The story of the Confederations Cup is, without a doubt… well, it’s the Egyptian team getting cleaned out by prostitutes. Nothing can compete with that. The second-most important story, though, was the USMNT (US Men’s National Team, if you were curious) sleepwalking through the first two of their three round robin games (both losses), then magically coming alive and getting a great deal of help to advance to the quarterfinals.
Their reward for advancement was mighty Spain, the top-ranked team in the nation. Wait, that doesn’t adequately describe the Spaniards’ dominance. They hadn’t lost since November. November of 2006, that is. Their unbeaten streak was 35 matches long, tied for the world record. They had won 15 matches in a row, which was a world record. They hadn’t even allowed a goal in 451 minutes of play. The US was going to lose. It was a foregone conclusion.
Unfortunately for Spain, though, the US ate their Awesome Flakes this morning. The Americans opened scoring midway through the first half with a stellar shot from Jozy Altidore. Then as Spain struggled in vain to put a shot past goalie Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey took advantage of a Spain turnover in the second half and put the game out of reach. The final score: Lowly America 2, Mighty Spain 0.
So did the US outplay Spain? Well, they won by two goals, so there’s that. But really, Spain was a lot better. They led in shots, 29-9. They led in shots on goal, 6-2. Corner kicks? 9-3, Spaniards. They controlled the ball 56% of the time. The USMNT had absolutely no business winning this match. But they did anyway, because doing something you have no business doing is the American Way.
So now, the USMNT faces the winner of Brazil and host South Africa for the Confederations Cup title, an absolutely unfathomable proposition as of the beginning of this weekend. This means, in all likelihood, that it’s Brazil/US to decide the title on Sunday. Lest our memories fail us, Brazil destroyed the Americans in opening round Confederations Cup play. The final may be no closer than the 3-0 erasure delivered last week.
Or maybe the Americans have one more shocker left in them. Only one way to find out.