USA 2, Spain 0.
Let me repeat that.
USA 2, Spain 0.
In one of the most shocking results we've seen in some time, the U.S. men's soccer team found a way to snap Spain's streaks of 15 straight wins and 35 games without a loss.
This is the same team that was recently embarrassed by Costa Rica in World Cup qualifiers, and was run over by Italy and Brazil in the first two games of this Confederations Cup with minimal effort required of those teams.
So, will the real U.S. men's soccer team please stand up?
The fact this team was even playing in this game was a minor miracle. The U.S. needed Italy to lose by 3 goals and had to beat Egypt by a three-goal margin, and most of us would have bet our life savings against the possibility of that ever happening.
Yet, someone waved a magic wand and "Abracadabra," it was done.
Or maybe they woke up the morning of the Egypt match and found giant pods in their basements. As in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the real players were replaced by the pod people, who are unrelenting in their mission of world domination.
Whatever happened, the reaction by the U.S. players after pulling off that miracle was an angry one. There were nasty "take that" comments directed at their critics and the "so-called soccer experts in the USA".
Obviously, they have been reading their press clippings. The players and coach have been under attack from all sides after their recent poor performances. I have been a critic myself, but mostly I'm just disappointed that we can't seem to develop players with the skills of the International footballers.
As the Spain match approached, one would assume that the U.S. team would give it a good try and eventually succumb to Spain's superior talent. Well, one thing is certain—Spain does have superior talent.
But the incredible happened.
The American team put forth an effort that hasn't been seen in many years. Pedestrian players played like stars and their star players played like International stars.
My players of the match
Oguchi Onyewu: He may have played the greatest game ever by a U.S. defender. Seemed like he cleared away every cross that Spain put in front of the goal. And there were plenty.
Landon Donovan: He became a man today. I have criticized him often for not stepping up his play in the big games. I can criticize him on that no more.
Jay Demerit: He defended flawlessly. This coming after I was calling for his head after he sheepishly ducked out of the way of two goals in the loss to Italy.
Best Tactical Decisions
Keeping DaMarcus Beasley on the bench. Hopefully, he'll be sent packing completely.
Starting Davies again. While he's not the long-term answer, his aggressiveness is a perfect complement to Altidore's more controlled demeanor.
Putting Bocanegra at left back and leaving Demerit in central defense. That solidified the back four, which needed to be at its best in this game.
So, which team can we expect to see in the Confederations Cup final?
If the USA draws Brazil once more, can it continue to ride the wave of emotion and find a way to reverse the results of the previous meeting? If it draws the host, South Africa, will it play as well while not in the role of the huge underdog?
Once again, will the real U.S. men's soccer team please stand up?
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