A Gutting Loss: How The US Finish in the Confed Cup Will Play at Home
The English language recently added its 1,000,000th word, but as any American who has traveled to England (or vice versa) will tell you, there's plenty lost in translation.
Even ignoring colloquialisms and slang, there are plenty of words that fall in or out of usage depending on which side of the Atlantic you're on. For the newly minted American football fans, here's one you might want to adopt:
Gutted (adj.) The feeling of utter pain and humiliation you feel when your side doesn't win a game it should have.
ex) When Tottenham scored the equalizer against Arsenal, the faces of the fans told the story: they were completely gutted.
Now that the lexicon has been established, a breakdown of the US-Brazil Confederations Cup final is much easier.
It was, simply put, a gutting loss for the United States.
Goals by Fulham's Clint Dempsey and MLS superstar Landon Donovan in the first gave the US a half-time lead that looked bulletproof. A 2-0 mark with Tim Howard between the pipes and the defense looking stout, one can forgive fans a bit of hubris.
But Brazil hasn't gained a reputation of being harder to kill than a cockroach for no reason. Two goals from Louis Fabiano and the killer by Lucio off of a corner sent Sam's Army home shamefaced and sad.
But should they be?
The US walked into the Confed Cup an also-ran. A joke in a group that featured Brazil, Italy, and the African champions Egypt. The US would play their three games, give fans a chance to see what rockstars like Kaka can do, and then go home to play their mistimed MLS season.
And that's quite nearly what happened.
Credit US coach Bob Bradley and the players for taking the game to Egypt, even if Italy hadn't wet the bed against Brazil, that game would have helped the US save some face after two terrible games to start the cup off.
The game against Spain was one of the most enjoyable games I've seen. The US played like they had nothing to lose, and in fact, they didn't. The goals from Altidore and Dempsey weren't the most perfect ever seen, but they were enough to put the US through.
That alone should allow the US players to carry their heads high. They went off 999-1 underdogs to win the Cup and now they were just one match away from doing just that.
The match against Brazil was what it was. The US was efficient, scoring two goals on their first two shots on goal, but Brazil looked dangerous going into halftime and I wouldn't be too surprised to find out that Dunga threatened players' lives during his pep talk.
That Brazil came back and won shouldn't surprise too many long-time watchers of the game, but for the US fans who turned the game on at half after their buddy texted them that the US was about to beat Brazil, Lucio's strike probably landed like one of Muhammed Ali's haymakers.
The question is: Where does this leave the game of soccer in the United States?
Whether this will increase the profile of MLS games or the newly formed WPS, I don't know. Players like Landon Donovan will draw people to the stadium, but by and large the US stars don't play domestically.
Dempsey, winner of the Bronze Ball, plays for Fulham, just down the way from Jonathan Spector at West Ham. Tim Howard keeps Everton's sheets as clean as possible, Jozy Altidore is in Spain, and Benny Fielhaber was last spotted in Denmark.
While each of these guys did a lot to increase their international profile (and possibly increase the likelihood of getting sold to a better club), there isn't likely to be a rush of Americans headed to Craven Cottage anytime soon.
What is clear is that the National Team is now no longer a joke. Upcoming World Cup qualifiers ought to garner more attention and the Gold Cup next month will move from being a niche event to something that will draw a fair number of eyes.
Even though the US lost, they acquitted themselves well against Brazil, if only for a half. Even that will put a fair amount of momentum behind the team. If, by some act of horrible malice, they fail to qualify for next year's World Cup, then soccer will retake its place as the "sport the world plays that the vast majority of Americans wish would simply go away".
A good showing in the Gold Cup and the remaining World Cup qualifiers could cement the US National Team's position on the sports radar of the nation. Goodness knows the rest of the world has already taken note of their rise, now it remains to be seen if they'll be noticed at home.
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