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Despite Defeat, USA Announce Arrival on International Stage

At one stage, it looked as if the underdogs might even win the trophy. But even in defeat, the US announced themselves as a force to be reckoned with in international football…

Demerit and the US ultimately fell short, but not by much...

Demerit and the US ultimately fell short, but not by much...

On June 29, 1950, in a game remembered as “The Miracle on Grass,” Team USA beat traditional international powerhouse England 1-0 in a World Cup game in Brazil.
As the score was wired back to newspapers in England, sports editors were so convinced a mistake had been made during transit that some even printed the score as 10-0 to England in the next day’s edition.
They would soon be told of their mistake.
At the time, many thought the U.S. might soon become a real force in world football. Alas, such an emergence did not happen, and the country continued to operate on the fringes of the football fraternity.
Nearly 59 years to the day since that famous result, all that changed.
Despite a defeat to Brazil in the Confederations Cup final, the U.S. announced themselves as genuine competitors on the world stage.
Any team can pull off an unbelievable result, as the U.S. did in 1950 and against Spain in the Confederations Cup Semifinal on Friday.
But to go on and push another world-class side right to the limit, as the U.S. did in the final against Brazil, indicates that perhaps that is the level at which the team belongs.
It wasn’t quite a second “Miracle on Grass” for the American team, but at one stage it looked like it just might be. After goals from Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan gave the U.S. a 2-0 half-time lead, Brazil fought back in the second half valiantly and showed their renowned class as they ran out deserved 3-2 winners.
Luis Fabiano (twice) and Lucio combined to deny their opponents, but the American’s assent to football’s top table was already complete.
“It’s a tough one to see slip away,” said U.S. coach Bob Bradley after the game. “We gave the goal up so quickly in the second half that we put ourselves in a tough spot. But I’m extremely proud of the team.“
Two weeks ago, the U.S. were viewed as dark horses, even in a tournament of only eight teams. The elite teams in the world—Spain, Italy, Brazil, etc.—would not have lost sleep about the team as potential opponents.
Now, however, no international team will take the US for granted.
Still, fans of the U.S. team should not get ahead of themselves. No one should fool themselves into thinking that the Confederations Cup is a big international tournament, one of prestige and standing within the world game.
It isn’t.
By the next tournament, in four year’s time, the result of this final will barely be remembered—that does not indicate a world-class tournament.
But, by the same token, the small field is one of undisputed quality. America beat arguably the best national team in the world, Spain, in the semifinals, and pushed the game’s traditional powerhouse to the limit in the final.
They mixed it with the best of them, and will have learned a lot from this experience.
“We continue to try and move ourselves forward, and playing these sort of games only helps,” Bradley said. “I hope people around the world will see we have good players and good results, and hopefully, we will get even better.”
The trophy cabinet may still be empty, but the U.S. has finally arrived on the world scene.
They might not be expected to win international tournaments in future—few teams ever are—but they will certainly be expected to progress to the later stages of any competitions they enter.
That is a small, but significant shift in status.
With two impressive results, they have gone from novelty act to, if not the main event, certainly top of the undercard.
“They are now a bit more confident about their capacity on the world stage,” said French World Cup winner Marcel Desailly. “They have some good players and have shown that when you play tight and strong, then you can achieve something. I can see some disappointment on the players’ faces, but c’mon, it was Brazil in front of you.”
Traditionally, American squads have travelled to international tournaments with little more than hope.
In a year’s time, assuming all goes well in the remainder of the qualification process, Team USA will return to South Africa with more than hope; they will travel with expectation, too.
As much as it might pain the rest of the world to admit, the U.S. are now a force to be reckoned with—even at the highest levels of what they call “soccer.”

On June 29, 1950, in a game remembered as “The Miracle on Grass,” Team USA beat traditional international powerhouse England 1-0 in a World Cup game in Brazil.

As the score was wired back to newspapers in England, sports editors were so convinced a mistake had been made during transit that some even printed the score as 10-0 to England in the next day’s edition.

They would soon be told of their mistake.

At the time, many thought the U.S. might soon become a real force in world football. Alas, such an emergence did not happen, and the country continued to operate on the fringes of the football fraternity.

Nearly 59 years to the day since that famous result, all that changed.

Despite a defeat to Brazil in the Confederations Cup final, the U.S. announced themselves as genuine competitors on the world stage.

Any team can pull off an unbelievable result, as the U.S. did in 1950 and against Spain in the Confederations Cup semifinal on Friday.

But to go on and push another world-class side right to the limit, as the U.S. did in the final against Brazil, indicates that perhaps that is the level at which the team belongs.

It wasn’t quite a second “Miracle on Grass” for the American team, but at one stage it looked like it just might be. After goals from Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan gave the U.S. a 2-0 half-time lead, Brazil fought back in the second half valiantly and showed their renowned class as they ran out deserved 3-2 winners.

Luis Fabiano (twice) and Lucio combined to deny their opponents, but the American’s assent to football’s top table was already complete.

“It’s a tough one to see slip away,” said U.S. coach Bob Bradley after the game. “We gave the goal up so quickly in the second half that we put ourselves in a tough spot. But I’m extremely proud of the team.“

Two weeks ago, the U.S. were viewed as dark horses, even in a tournament of only eight teams. The elite teams in the world—Spain, Italy, Brazil, etc.—would not have lost sleep about the team as potential opponents.

Now, however, no international team will take the US for granted.

Still, fans of the U.S. team should not get ahead of themselves. No one should fool themselves into thinking that the Confederations Cup is a big international tournament, one of prestige and standing within the world game.

It isn’t.

By the next tournament, in four year’s time, the result of this final will barely be remembered — that does not indicate a world-class tournament.

But, by the same token, the small field is one of undisputed quality. America beat arguably the best national team in the world, Spain, in the semifinals, and pushed the game’s traditional powerhouse to the limit in the final.

They mixed it with the best of them, and will have learned a lot from this experience.

“We continue to try and move ourselves forward, and playing these sort of games only helps,” Bradley said. “I hope people around the world will see we have good players and good results, and hopefully, we will get even better.”

The trophy cabinet may still be empty, but the U.S. has finally arrived on the world scene.

They might not be expected to win international tournaments in future — few teams ever are — but they will certainly be expected to progress to the later stages of any competitions they enter.

That is a small, but significant shift in status.

With two impressive results, they have gone from novelty act to, if not the main event, certainly top of the undercard.

“They are now a bit more confident about their capacity on the world stage,” said French World Cup winner Marcel Desailly. “They have some good players and have shown that when you play tight and strong, then you can achieve something. I can see some disappointment on the players’ faces, but c’mon, it was Brazil in front of you.”

Traditionally, American squads have travelled to international tournaments with little more than hope.

In a year’s time, assuming all goes well in the remainder of the qualification process, Team USA will return to South Africa with more than hope; they will travel with expectation, too.

As much as it might pain the rest of the world to admit, the U.S. are now a force to be reckoned with — even at the highest levels of what they call “soccer.”

 

This article was also featured on Fox Sports.

An abridged version was also reprinted by the LA Times.

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June 29, 2009 - Posted by | Sport, World Football | , ,

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