Confederations Cup: USA Shocks Spain, Advances to First Final

RD LockhartContributor IJune 25, 2009

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 24:  USA players celebrate victorious at the end of their FIFA Confederations Cup Semi Final match against Spain at Free State Stadium on June 24, 2009 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. USA won the match 2-0.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

The United States men's national soccer team stunned the world of soccer Wednesday evening with a sparkling 2-0 defeat over No. 1 ranked Spain in their semifinal match of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup at Bloemfontein's Free State Stadium in South Africa.

The win earned the Americans their first trip to the cup final in team history. 

"The U. S. put in a tremendous team effort and were all over the field," said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque in defeat. "We were surprised by how well they played and we have to take our hats off to them."

The Beatles classic song "Come Together" came to mind as news of the amazing American victory filled the airwaves.  "Here comes old flattop, he come grooving up slowly..."  

Losers of their first two cup matches against Brazil and Italy, team USA was doing just that, moving up slowly, scoring just one goal in those matches together while playing with very little passion making careless defensive miscues.

Amazingly, behind the leadership of head coach Bob Bradley, they found a way to "come together" at just the right time with an excellent balance of timely offense and stifling defense. 

"When you play a team like Spain you have to work very hard and defend as a group," said Bradley.  "We made a special effort to try to control their midfield and not let them get comfortable. When we got the ball we knew we needed to be aggressive."

Facing cup elimination team USA dumped a valiant Egyptian team 3-0 to secure the runners-up berth and stamp their ticket to the semi-final match against the reigning European champions from Spain by virtue of goals scored.

With virtually no one but their coaches, family, and friends believing in them, team USA pulled off what has to be the "biggest win" in American soccer history to earn a shot at the country's first FIFA title on Sunday.

"This win is huge for American soccer.  It's the first time we've gone to the final of a major competition," said USA midfielder and Budweiser Man of the Match Clint Dempsey.  "We were down and out and no one expected us to win. Everyone back home is going to be excited about this and we're all thrilled."

Goalkeeper Tim Howard was a beast again between the pipes standing on his head devouring 29 furious shots on goal from the mighty Spaniards for his second consecutive shut-out in this year's cup helping team USA become the first team to beat Spain since Romania in 2006.

Coming into the semi-final the Americans were 0-3 all-time versus Spain and for the casual American soccer fan like your writer, most are proud just to know that America has a team representing the country but not many, if any, place expectations like winning, on the team.  After all futbol is not football in the United States.

But, the way this American team rallied together to triumph over the Spaniards in such a dominating dramatic fashion ending both their 35-match unbeaten and 15-match consecutive winning streaks respectfully, is truly out of this world.

Team USA can savor the taste of this historic victory for only a short time.  After the winner of the second semi-final is decided between host country South Africa and perennial favorites Brazil, the Americans will still have one final match to play. 

However, team USA does not appear to be afraid or intimidated by pressure heading into their first final of a major competition.

"We just beat the best team in the world, so we're going to be very fired up no matter who we meet in the final," said an elated USA forward Landon Donovan after the match. "It's great to reach a FIFA final for the first time, but we've played a lot of finals in our region. We won't feel any new pressure in this final here. We'll be ready to go."