Confederations Cup - Semi Final 1
The United States caused a major upset last night in the Semi Finals of the Confederations Cup and in a first for the men's soccer team, reached the final of a global Competition.
Goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey combined with a resolute defensive display secured a place in the Final for Bob Bradley's team, and knocked out the much more favoured Spain.
It was an unexpected victory, not least because the US were the underdogs for this game, but most observers did not expect to get them to get this far at all, having started the tournament very badly and losing their opening 2 games.
Even the most optimistic of supporters would have struggled to believe after that first couple of matches yet qualify they had, convincingly beating Egypt to find themselves in the Semi Finals, and before the match, manager Bob Bradley had rejected the underdogs tag, instilling confidence in his team.
"We came up against Spain before EURO 2008 and we played a great game. We've been watching them during this tournament and we've been taking note of their style. We know how to stop them and we are very confident," USA coach Bob Bradley.
As it turned out, the CONCACAF winners found themselves in the Semis against a European Champions brimming with confidence, having been unbeaten for over 2 years, a total of 35 games with 15 straight wins until last night.
The US pressured Spain at the start, but it did not take long for Spain to begin to dominate possession, but they could not take their chances and seemed to be disjointed in their passing game, while the US waited for the counter-attack.
Jozy Altidore broke the deadlock against the run of play, taking the lead for the USA on 27 minutes, losing his marker and beating Casillas from 15 yards.
Spain regrouped, and continued to dominate possession, without really threatening at first, until closer to half time the US defence found itself under immense pressure. Tim Howard made a couple of excellent saves to maintain the slender lead until the interval.
In the second half, it seemed that certain that Spain would equalise, increasing the pace of the game and having numerous chances, Torres and Villa both denied by Tim Howard.
Then on 74 minutes Landon Donovan's put through a perfect pass for Fulham's Clint Dempsey to score from close range.
After the match, Bob Bradley praised his team:
"It's exciting, a great team effort. To beat an amazing team like Spain and make the final, it's big," said US coach Bob Bradley.
"We played as hard as we could and that's what it took. Every guy contributed, so it's a very good feeling."
Teams and stats.
Spain: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Capdevila, Pique, Puyol, Xavi, Fabregas (Santi Cazorla 68), Alonso, Riera (Mata 78), Torres, Villa.
Subs Not Used: Diego Lopez, Albiol, Arbeloa, Marchena, Pablo, Busquets, Silva, Llorente, Guiza, Reina.
Booked: Capdevila, Pique.
US: Howard, DeMerit, Spector, Bocanegra, Onyewu, Clark, Dempsey (Bornstein 88), Davies (Feilhaber 69), Donovan, Bradley, Altidore (Casey 84).
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Pearce, Califf, Wynne, Beasley, Kljestan, Adu, Torres, Robles.
Sent Off: Bradley (87).
Booked: Donovan, Altidore.
Goals: Altidore 27, Dempsey 74.
Ref: Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay).
Previous results and stats:
P W D L GF GA Pts
Brazil 3 3 0 0 10 3 9
USA 3 1 0 2 4 6 3
Italy 3 1 0 2 3 5 3
Egypt 3 1 0 2 4 7 3
Date - Time Venue Results
15 Jun - 20:30 Tshwane/Pretoria USA 1 Italy 3
18 Jun - 16:00 Tshwane/Pretoria USA 0 Brazil 3
21 Jun - 20:30 Rustenburg Egypt 0 USA 3
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