Many sports fans in the United States have little idea of just how big it is that the U.S. national team is in the finals of the Confederation Cup. We lost our first two games against powerhouse Brazil and the defending world champions, Italy.
In order to edge Italy out for the right to advance to the semifinal game, we needed to beat a strong Egypt team by three or more goals, and Brazil needed to beat Italy by three or more goals. The chances of that happening were roughly one in a thousand. But it happened.
For that, we got the privilege of going up against Spain. Spain, the best team in Europe. Spain, the heavy favorite to win the World Cup next year. Spain, who hadn’t lost a match in 35 meetings, since the team formed in more or less its current incarnation.
Well, tonight we won, 2-0. Maybe Spain can’t play well in cold weather (it’s the dead of winter in South Africa right now).
This is the first time the U.S. national team has progressed to the finals of any international soccer tournament; Brazil and South Africa play for that tomorrow. I could have sworn I saw somewhere that winning the Confederation Cup generates an automatic bid to the World Cup, but maybe I was wrong. In any event, this is by far the best the U.S. has ever done, and it’s done it by somehow getting past three of the four best teams in the world. (Germany is not in the Confederation Cup.) I’m kind of rooting for South Africa tomorrow.