The USA shocked the footballing world with their 2-0 win over Spain. The result wasn’t a fluke either. The team worked hard for the full 90 minutes and thoroughly deserved the victory.
They clogged the middle, preventing Spain (and Xavi in particular) from their usual inclination to play through the middle, cutting up defenses with their pinpoint passing. To combat the effects of Torres and Villa, the American defenders showed discipline by playing deep – thus neutralizing the much-hyped duo’s pace. Finally, they went into the match with the famous American ‘never-say-die attitude’ and pulled off one of the greatest upsets in US sports history (probably only after the miracle on ice).
This victory was legitimate in every sense of the word and if I were the rest of the world, I’d be a little scared of the Americans. I wouldn’t be quaking in my boots just yet, but I firmly believe they will win at least one World Cup in our lifetime.
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My argument (really, more of a belief) obviously does not rest on the result of this game alone.
I think the fact that this generation of kids is even playing soccer is a huge step forward. And by ‘this generation of kids’, I don’t just mean teenage girls. Football (soccer) is fast becoming one of the most popular sports for kids of all ages to play. Even though many of the nation’s best athletes are still poached by ‘the big four’ (Football, Basketball, Baseball, Hockey), like I said, the fact that kids are even playing is a big step considering that not too long ago, nobody even knew what the sport was. And even though many are being enticed by bigger contracts from other sports, the number is slowly declining. America produces some of the world’s best athletes on a consistent basis; it’s only a matter of time before some of them are footballers.
The US is home to some of the best sporting facilities in the world, has incredible resources and is also willing/able to spend more money on the sport than other countries. Although this isn’t exactly key (you think of England’s facilities/resources and why they can’t turn out any decent tennis players when Serbian kids learn to play in abandoned swimming pools), it can only help.
Pretty much half of the players who made up the US’s last World Cup team plied their trade in the MLS. On the other hand, the squad that faced Spain was filled with players who play week-in week-out in leagues around the world (primarily Europe). The knowledge gained by players such as Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, etc. not only helps them as individuals, but helps the rest of the team as well.
The fact that the USA beat Spain 2-0 in the semi-finals of an (albeit, inconsequential) international competition on foreign soil says a lot. This is the Spanish side that brushed away all competition in the European finals just last summer. If Spain had beaten the USA they would have broken Brazil’s record of 35 matches unbeaten and set a new record for consecutive victories. So the motivation was there – as if the thought of losing against the USA wasn’t embarrassing enough.
But it’s important not to get too excited about this one game. In all likelihood, Brazil will beat the USA in Sunday’s final. But this isn’t about the Confederation’s Cup. This is about the future. Surely the victory over Spain is a sign of things to come?