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BRENT LATHAM - Wednesday, June 24, 2009
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Spain vs United States
Conferations Cup - Wednesday June 24, 2009
Free State Stadium
2
Bob Bradley's men pulled off a stunning upset over the world's number one ranked team, beating Spain to advance to their first-ever FIFA international final.

The Americans were buoyed by captain Carlos Bocanegra, who returned to action, at left back, alongside the usual central tandem of Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu.

In somewhat uncharacteristic fashion, the American skipper opted to play Spain straight up, coming out in a 4-4-2 with Josmer Altidore and Charlie Davies up top. In just the sixth minute the US served notice when Davies, starting again after his sensational display against Egypt, pulled off a full bike in the area that rolled just wide.

A minute later Davies was at it again, flashing a header across the face of the Spanish goal, before Clint Dempsey tried his luck from outside the box and missed just a little wide.

The US continued to pick its spots and find space, and Landon Donovan had his own shot from outside the area after a long run forward with the ball.

Spain didn't create its first real chance until the 21st minute, when Albert Riera picked up a ball on the right wing and cracked a shot that rolled horizontally across the box and out for a throw in.

Jozy Altidore, who plays his club soccer for Villarreal in Spain, put the Americans on the board first in the 26th minute when he turned defender Capdevila. The young striker's shot smacked off the hand goalkeeper Iker Casillas and then the post to give the Red, White and Blue a stunning lead.

Spain came forward in irritation, and David Villa missed the top corner from six yards after a deflection landed at his feet in the box.

The Americans were still looking dangerous, and in the 36th minute Donovan lofted a set piece into the box where a storming Dempsey headed high, with a wide open Carlos Bocanegra crashing in behind him.

As the half wore on, Spain dominated possession and came closest through Fernando Torres, who beat Bocanegra into the box but could not beat Tim Howard, who kicked away his low shot.

The Spanish came out furious in the second half as David Villa ripped a shot that Tim Howard saved brilliantly on the dive to preserve the shutout.

In the 54th minute the Spaniards had a legitimate penalty claim denied by Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda when Donovan bundled over Xavi in front of the net.

But it was not to be the Spaniards night. After a couple more close misses by Spain, who had eight shots on goal in total, the Americans would build a two goal lead in the 74th minute when Dempsey jumped on a poor touch from Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos at the far post. The Fulham-man easily poked the ball past a helpless Casillas for the second goal of the game.

The goal was the result of beautiful combination play beginning on the foot of Benny Feilhaber, who had entered for Davies. Feilhaber advanced the ball downfield and played it for Donovan, who sliced a pass into the area that was touched by two Spanish defenders before Dempsey got his foot on it.

The low point for team USA came late, when Michael Bradley was mysteriously sent off in the 86th minute for a nothing challenge, ruling him out of the Confederations Cup final against the winner of the Brazil and South Africa match to be played Thursday.

"We're excited to be in the final," Bob Bradley said later at the press conference. "Whenever you're in the final you have a chance to win the tournament."

"The motivation will be high and regardless of whether we play against Brazil or the Bafana Bafana. The challenge wil be great, but at that point only two teams will have the chance to lift the tropy."

"Of course it's disappointing to go down a man at the very end," the coach said about his son's sending off. "We're constantly working with all our players to play aggressively but also to be disciplined."

"Anytime any of your players pours his heart into a game and to see him lose the chance to play in a final, I think players all around the world understand what that means. That's as difficult and tough as it gets."

With the crowd chanting USA-USA and screaming Ole Ole, the Spanish frustration grew as the two goal lead proved too much to overcome. The Spaniards left the field in irritation, as the Americans celebrated in front of a newly appreciative crowd.
chart79
Wednesday June 24, 2009 6:47 pm
Coaching Ineptitude, what is your problem? Why all the hate? This is by far the best effort of any US team. WE BEAT SPAIN, the No. 1 team in the world. Who can criticize anything that Bradley did today? No one, that's who. Bob Bradley doesn't show nepotism by playing his son. Michael Bradley is just that good. Anyone who was coach of the US team right now would play Michael Bradley, he's got more offense than Mastroeni and great hustle/effort/defense as compared to Torres and Feilhaber. Don't get me started on Adu, he's a long way from even playing for the senior US team. The two best central midfielders in the US pool right now are Bradley and Edu so it shouldn't surprise anyone that Bob Bradley starts his son. As for Michael Bradley picking up a red card, we shouldn't be surprised as the US has already been given a few dubious cards in this tourney. Don't mistake his hard tackling and effort (both should be heralded as the right way to play footy) with the refs' ineptitude and propensity to award diving players who act like they've just been hit by a sniper's bullet. Both Bradley's and the US team deserve our respect and admiration for what they've accomplished at this tourney. Let's not forget that we led Italy 1-0 at half and who knows what would've happened had if Clark didn't get sent off unfairly. The team has played great in 2 games, poor in 1 and absolutely amazing against Spain.
grady36
Wednesday June 24, 2009 6:26 pm
Ridiculous red card can Bob have that reviewed? Surely a yellow, it was baffling. What a fantastic victory though, let's go Bafana Bafana in the other semi final!!!

In the post game review did anyone hear Lalas say this win will make it onto his "top ten" US soccer victories? Is this guy for real?
cudevil
Wednesday June 24, 2009 5:54 pm
For the life of me, I cannot understand how people can still throw around the nepotism tag at MB, or why people suggest he should not always start in meaningful games. He's proven himself to be more than capable in both the Eredivisie and the Bundesliga, and he's still only what--22? His game has matured. That was hardly a "wreckless challenge" today--he did not go high, it was not particularly late, he did not come over the ball (he actually got a piece of the ball for goodness sake!). It was arguable that the foul merited a yellow (especially considering he had not been called for many fouls during the course of the game).

Great and deserved win today.
Coaching Ineptitude
Wednesday June 24, 2009 5:47 pm
I am ecstatic but please admit BB's use of subs was pathetic, as they were too late and misplaced. Believe me I mortgaged work to watch and I am as solid as it gets fanwise.

Why is MB automatically in the line-up, and why is BB coaching if his kid is in the player pool? It stinks and so does Bob, his son may be good enough to play but I want talent evaluated in an unbiased fashion from someone intelligent who does not have any allegiance to anyone in the pool. Nepotism and soccer run hand in hand and I am sick of it. Meanwhile, no Torres, no Freddy, and only Benny late?

How about some creativity going forward instead of six defensive players, is five not enough? At least MB subbed himself for the final with another stupid reckless challenge, we were laughing hard as it happened and immediately expected red, why provide the opportunity? He is a liability because he cannot finish a tourney without a red, he tried to get one vs Egypt but the guys feet were too quick with another stupid blind side challenge, watch the tape.

Hopefully Benny starts for the final, in front of our five defensive players. I am excited but thinking of the future, as well as the past with our straight red history.
doug
Wednesday June 24, 2009 5:44 pm
I asked Google to translate this headline and got back "FURY WHITE SHAKE SPAIN"
leeterofcola
Wednesday June 24, 2009 5:40 pm
I've been begging for that exact backline for a while now and I finally got it. I know Carlos would rather play centrally but he'll do what's best for the team. Great win for the USA. Maybe the biggest in our history. If not it's up there with beating Mexico and Portugal at the WC in 2002, beating Brazil in the Gold Cup, beating Colombia at WC 1994, and beating England at the WC like a hundred years ago. This is huge!!! It was a semifinal in a FIFA competition, with the world watching. This looks like a team of destiny. The stars are finally aligning for us.

Oh and that red to Bradley was BS. I knew FIFA's goons would do their best to help Spain. They'll probably sabotage Brazil tomorrow so they can get their precious Spain vs. Brazil matchup.

I love it man! Nobody wanted us to make it this far but here we are. Playing with heart and confidence goes a long way.
usa-ga-fan
Wednesday June 24, 2009 5:26 pm
Very much liked the back line. All worked together well. Boca was a little rusty but who can blame him. To say great game is an understatment. Well done.
Lou_C
Wednesday June 24, 2009 5:17 pm
Chazz...the US will never get the respect from the major powers in the world until they can pull off more wins like this. I agree with you. All of those who hate US soccer will make excuses. Now it's onto Sunday. I questioned all last week where was the heart of this team, the way they played against Italy and Brazil. Now we see it. Now it's time to show the world that we may not have the best squad, we may not have the best players, but we are the best fit and have the biggest heart in all the world. Brazil may very well beat us, but they are gonna have to bring their A+ game to do it!!!
phil
Wednesday June 24, 2009 5:10 pm
wow. eating my words never tasted so good.

this is what this team can do when they play to their. congrats to every player and especially to coach bradley. there is no asterisk today. the US outplayed the best team in the world today.
TrappedInBelgium
Wednesday June 24, 2009 5:07 pm
make excuses chaz? no way man, the USA showed their true colors and shut down the so-called best team in the world! if they're the best, we should win the world cup next year!!!
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