They were so close! It seemed to be on their fingertips, and what better start could you ask for if you're a young, learning national team that's a student of the game.
Going 2-0 up against the defending Confederations Cup champions and, contrary to stupid FIFA rankings, the BEST team in world football, Brazil. That was a dream start for the US.
But where could it have gone wrong for them?
We've seen the Cinderella story have an happy ending before i.e. Euro 2004, and we have also seen underdog teams come up against a powerhouse and shock the world within 90 mins to completely go against all that is logical and win the game, i.e. Liverpool vs A.C Milan. It was possible!
The US had the courage and heart going into that game and the confidence, Brazil had the belief they could win and there is a fine difference between the two.
You could say that the Michael Bradley red card against Spain did them in the final, and losing your most consistent player is always a loss. You'll end up paying later rather then sooner however, they were 2-0 up by the end of the first half! They needed to focus on the players they did have on the bench to get the job done.
They needed to pace themselves, and giving the ball away against a raging attacking Brazil is never a good thing. If conceding a goal within in the first minute of the 2nd half after being up 2-0 doesn't scream out tactical genius on Dunga's part then I'm not sure what does.
He never gave the US a chance to settle into the rhythm they wanted to and scoring so soon only does wonders for your team in terms of belief. That really killed the USA's confidence.
Why for the life of me Bradley did not bring in Torres to the midfield instead of Sacha Kljestan confuses me. I can only imagine he brought him in for some muscle in the midfield to hold the ball up but Kljestan gave the ball away more then anything and Torres would have held that ball more.
No offence to the MLS but Jose Torres plays with more technically gifted players in Pachuca and that's what the US national team was lacking, a player who could hold the ball up when they needed to at least get to extra time if not penalties.
There is a bright side to this, the US were in their first ever FIFA final and their display was not that bad considering who they are and who they faced. It's a step forward for the US national team and something they can take from this is confidence.
A tool they very much need especially ahead of their date with Mexico in the Azteca and the World Cup next summer.
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