By Wyatt Earp | June 29, 2009
Dammit. The United States soccer team made it to the championship game of the Confederations Cup – a FIFA-sanctioned tournament – by an incredible combination of skill, luck, and small miracles. No one expected them to beat Egypt by three goals. They did. No one expected them to beat powerhouse Spain. They did. And no one expected them to beat Brazil.
Sadly, they didn’t, even after building a 2-0 lead at the half. A win yesterday would have been the soccer equivalent of The Miracle on Ice, as Brazil is arguably the best team in the world.
JOHANNESBURG – Clint Dempsey sobbed as the Americans walked up to get their second-place medals, unable to hide the pain and the disappointment any longer.
The euphoria of knocking off Spain last week dissolved Sunday in the Confederations Cup final when Brazil unleashed its “Beautiful Game.”
After dominating the five-time World Cup champions in the first half, the Americans were powerless as Brazil scored three goals in the final 45 minutes to rally for a 3-2 win.
There is certainly no shame in losing to Brazil – overall, the U.S. is 1-14 against them – but it is doubly disappointing because the Americans looked so terrific in the first half.
“We’re at the point where we don’t want respect, we want to win,” said Landon Donovan, whose goal in the 27th minute gave the United States a 2-0 lead. “There’s no guarantee we ever get back to a final game like this, so it’s disappointing.”
That’s good. It means the U.S. team is getting better and expecting more of themselves. Hopefully, they will do some damage in the World Cup.
Almost sure to qualify for next year’s World Cup, also in South Africa, the Americans certainly saw the benefits of playing this game. What hurt was the way they lost it.
“We continue to try and move ourselves forward, and playing these kind of games only helps,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “But it still feels pretty lousy to let this one get away.” ()
To give you an idea off what this game meant in the Earp household today, Kyle, Erik, and I turned off the NASCAR race to see the match. We were hoping to witness history, only to be disappointed in the end.
The Americans led 2-0 at the half, and sat by while the Brazilians scored three unanswered goals to take the title. Visibly upset at the final score, Kyle started to cry when the final whistle blew. It’s a shame, because we all thought the U.S. had them right where they wanted them – before Brazil proved why they’re the best in the world.
The good news is that this match was great for soccer in America, and gives us a real rooting interest in the World Cup, which is only a year away. Hold your heads high, boys. You have nothing to be ashamed of.