Posted By:Brett Haynes - The Top Fan Tags:
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Johannesburg, South Africa - USA not quite at world's elite level - but getting closer, for sure. The United States had a chance to make a major impact on the soccer world, and they let it slip away. With a 2-0 lead at halftime in the championship game of the FIFA Confederation Cup, the Americans gave up three second half goals to Brazil, to lose 3-2 and finishing in second place. But if you are a real fan of American soccer, this tournament performance shows that the USA wants to be a world factor in soccer.
Early on, it looked as if the US was not going to be denied what they have craved for so long: a FIFA tournament title. On top of that, the Americans were 1-13 lifetime against Brazil and had lost the previous meeting - in this same tournament - 3-0. So as the game began, the enthusiasm from team USA was apparent. They seemed to be winning most loose balls, and were stringing together nice passes to create runs on goal. A tenth minute cross from Jonathon Spector to Clint Dempsey went home for a 1-0 lead, and the US had even more spark.
17 minutes and a few spectacular saves from American goal keeper Tim Howard later, Landon Donovan put away a shot from just inside the box for an incredible 2-0 American lead. Donovan played a very solid first half for USA. At this point, it seemed as if today was just going to be America's day to finally show the world that it can play soccer, as well.
USA held Brazil scoreless in the final minutes of the first-half, and into the locker room the teams went with the United States having every reason in the world to think they could win this game. But as a soccer fan, I knew that it would take everything and then some for our American team to hold on for the win. I guarantee you that the USA locker room also knew this, and in no way did they put anything on cruise-control. Brazil has won five World Cup titles, and are to me, the top national side in the world.
And so as the second half began, I was hopeful that our team could keep up the same spirit it had in the first-half. It didn't take long before the spirits of team USA, and my own, took a hit. Brazil's Luis Fabiano scored in the 46th minute to quickly cut the lead to 2-1. At that point, you could almost sense the feel of the game change. The USA at that point seemed to quit attacking as much, and focused more on absorbing the Brazil attack. What that meant is that Brazil would spend more time on the American side of the field.
With that being the case, Brazil scored two more goals. Fabiano added one more in the 73rd minute, and captain Lucio added the game-winner in the 83rd. It was methodical how Brazil scored in the second-half, just doing what needed to be done.
Many may say that Brazil was just toying with the USA in this game. I do not feel that way at all. I think Brazil is obviously the better team - arguably the best team on the planet right now - but they had a game on their hands. Let's face it, this game was tied with 23 minutes to play - hardly a guaranteed win if you are for Brazil. They did what they needed to do for the win, and for tha I give them credit. But I promise you the talk amongst the Brazilian squad following this game is that they cannot take the US lightly win they play in future matches.
So as the United States will take a bitter disappointment from this game, it should hold its head high and think about what it accomplished in this year's edition of the FIFA Confederation Cup: It was in position to win the championship game and defeated the number-1 ranked team in the world, Spain, along the way.
Overall, this tournament, was a positive step for USA soccer.
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