The US Football Community Has Some Thank You Notes to Dispense
After progressing to the semifinals of the Confederations Cup, an event that qualifies as a minor miracle after their first two matches, the United States has a list of people to thank that rivals anything you'll see at the Oscars.
Fans will thank players, players will thank coaches, and the USSF community as a whole will have a plaque carved and bejeweled in Brazil's honor. American football fans everywhere are wrapped up in a warm, fuzzy feeling that will surely dissipate once we all wake up Monday morning and realize, "Oh s---, we have to play Spain on Wednesday!"
A huge thank you goes out to Brazil. You could have fielded a weakened or experimental side against Italy (think Julio Cesar at striker), but you brought your Sunday best and steamrolled them. Without your efforts to dispatch the Azzurri, even a 15-0 victory by the US would have been for naught.
Another thank you needs to be given to Bob Bradley. Bob, thank you for finally showing the balls to put out a side that was capable of being aggressive. Granted, you had no choice if you wanted to retain even a slight measure of respectability, but lately we've learned never to doubt your ability to make bizarre decisions.
To the US team as a whole, thank you for showing up with a huge performance on a big stage for the first time since the 2002 World Cup. In that tournament, you beat Portugal and Mexico, and were the better side in a losing effort to Germany. Since then, it's been quite ugly outside of the Gold Cup. Thanks for doing even a little bit to reverse that trend.
Also, thanks for not picking up yet another red card. That would have been a little ridiculous.
Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, thanks for silencing the doubters who claimed that you were unfit for international duty. Most people who pay attention to football knew what you were capable of, but your crucial goals will go a long way toward silencing those who think Dempsey shuts down in a USA jersey and Bradley only plays because his dad is the coach.
Charlie Davies, thank you for justifying the faith that Bob Bradley showed by giving you the start today. Your opening goal was the catalyst for this whole thing.
FIFA, thanks for not using head-to-head results as a tiebreaker before total goals scoredthe US and Italy were even on points and goal differential, so total offensive output decided things.
Jozy Altidore, thanks for drawing that penalty kick late in the first half against Italy. Without your aggressive foray into the box and Landon Donovan's ensuing finish, we would have had to be very lucky to get into the semifinals. The final tiebreaker is the drawing of lots.
Egypt, thanks for maintaining the status quo by decisively losing to a higher-ranked team for the first time in this tournament. I thought you were going to hang on against Brazil, and I was rooting for you against Italy, but it was nice to see things return to normal when you (No. 40) were beaten by the 14th-ranked team.
Thank you, Italy, for somehow managing to be shut out twice in three matches despite having a team that contains Andrea Pirlo, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Alberto Gilardino, Luca Toni, and Giuseppe Rossi. They accounted for 58 goals during their respective domestic campaigns and Pirlo is regarded as one of the finest passers in the world. Even one goal against Brazil would have given you a place in the semifinals and sent Team America home.
And last but certainly not least, thanks to the US MNT for playing with some real passion for the first time in months. While you probably won't win the Confederations Cup, you weren't even expected to do this much. It gives you momentum heading into the Gold Cup and restores a little bit of the fans' faith.
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