Where does U.S. win over Spain rank in list of upsets?

June 25, 2009

In the previous post, Simon Evans discussed where the U.S. go from here after their stunning win over Spain. Below Mike Collett looks at where the Confederations Cup semi-final victory ranks among shocks.

The debate is back on. Where does the United States’ shock 2-0 win over Spain in the Confederations Cup on Wednesday rank among the all-time great upsets.

I would say very high indeed.

It’s not just the facts leading up to the match that scream “WOW, that was something else” but also the way the U.S. played. It was defending, team-work, spirit, guts and resilience of the highest level. The goals were not flukey either.

Teenager Jozy Altidore muscled his way past some tame defending from his Villarreal team mate Joan Capdivila to score the opener and Clint Dempsey pounced with the opportunism all great strikers show to put the U.S. 2-0 ahead.

Perhaps because they won 2-0 and not 1-0 as is usual in the case of upsets, this victory deserves a place in the top five of all time.

And before anyone says, “ah but the U.S. is ranked No.14 in the world by FIFA, so it’s not that big a deal,” think again.

The U.S. is ranked that highly because of the low standard of most of the teams around them in the CONCACAF zone — not all, but a lot. Any anyway, in football terms, the U.S. are not giants. They may rule the world, but they do not rule soccer — yet.

My suggestion for the greatest international upset of all time remains the United States 1-0 victory over England in the 1950 World Cup finals in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Some English papers thought the result was a misprint and “corrected” it the following day to read United States 1 England 10. They were wrong.

Here they are my choices then: I know I’ve probably left some real obvious ones out:

1. United States 1 England 0 1950 World Cup

2. North Korea 1 Italy 0 1966 World Cup

3. West Germany 3 Hungary 2 1954 World Cup final

4. Uruguay 2 Brazil 1 1950 World Cup final

5. United States 2 Spain 0 2009 Confederations Cup

6. Cameroon 1 Argentina 0 1990 World Cup

7. Senegal 1 France 0 2002 World Cup

8. Denmark winning 1992 European championship

9. Greece winning 2004 European championship

10. Faroe Islands 1 Austria 0 – Faroe Islands first ever competitive match in a Euro ’92 qualifier played in September 1990

11. Northern Ireland 1 Spain 0 1982 World Cup

12. Nigeria 3 Spain 2 1998 World Cup

13. Egypt 1 Italy 0 2009 Confederations Cup

14. West Germany 0 Northern Ireland 1 – West Germany’s first ever home defeat in a European qualifier, Hamburg 1983.

and possibly…

15. England 3 Hungary 6 1953 – England’s first-ever home defeat to overseas opposition but those in the know, saw it coming…and the Hungarians were magificent.


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Some body is pulling strings!

Posted by DenisR | Report as abusive

Hi Mike,You forgot to add one of the biggest in World Cup history ever! Algeria defeating west Germany by 2-1 in 1982. I would put it ahead of Senegal 1 France 0. Here is an exerpt from FIFA:”Algeria then provided an even bigger upset by defeating European champions Germany 2-1 in their opening game, Rabah Madjer and Lakdar Belloumi, African Footballer of the Year, the scorers. Despite also defeating Chile, the Algerians were eliminated on away goals after Germany enjoyed an all-too-comfortable victory over Austria which allowed both European teams to advance. One consequence of the controversy was that in future tournaments, concluding first-round games would kick off at the same time.”Thanks for the article. I enjoyed.Slim

Posted by Slim | Report as abusive

The Us team won fair and square, the Spanish simply underestimated their opponent. Its a shame they didn’t make the record though.

Posted by Boss Hoss | Report as abusive

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Posted by Reuters Soccer Blog » Blog Archive » Where does U.S. win over … | Webmaster Tools | Report as abusive

The two African nations beating top tiered South American and European countries, were much of bigger upsets, since they were played on a bigger stage (World Cup), upsetting the defending Champion, and in one instance, defeating a former colonizer.

Posted by Juan | Report as abusive

It is amazing that most of the surprises occurred when European teams were beaten. It was certainly a big surprise when Romania beat Colombia in WC ’94 and when Ireland drew with Cameroon in WC 2002. Nigeria’s defeat of Spain should be no surprise having topped their WC group in USA 94 and won the Olympic gold in 2006.

Posted by Ugochukwu | Report as abusive

Nice game worth talking about but Speaking of the biggest upset, and without going to a cospiracy theory, the 1982 world cup saw the biggest one, that should put it in the top 3 if not the top of the list,Per Wikipedia:”Group 2 saw one of the great World Cup upsets on the first day with the 2-1 victory of Algeria over reigning European Champion West Germany. This memorable game resulted in the controversial match between West Germany and Austria, their third and final match. As Algeria had already played their third match the day before, West Germany and Austria knew that a West German win by 1 or 2 goals would qualify them both, while a larger German victory would qualify Algeria over Austria, and a draw or an Austrian win would eliminate the Germans. The fourth team in the group, Chile, were eliminated regardless of the outcome. After 10 minutes of furious attack, West Germany succeeded in scoring through a goal by Horst Hrubesch. After the goal was scored, the two German-speaking teams went into an unspoken agreement and just kicked the ball around aimlessly for the rest of the match. Chants of “Fuera, fuera” (“Out, out”) were screamed by the appalled Spanish crowd, while angry Algerian supporters waved banknotes at the players. This sham performance was widely deplored, even by the German and Austrian fans who had hoped for a hot rematch of the 1978 FIFA World Cup match in which Austria had beaten West Germany. One German fan was so upset by his team’s display that he burned his German flag in disgust.[1] As a result of the outcome, FIFA introduced a revised qualification system at subsequent World Cups in which the final two games in each group were played simultaneously.”Thank you,Samy

Posted by Samy | Report as abusive

Where Exactly was the Upset in Nigeria beating Spain in ’98?

Posted by Njau | Report as abusive

The bookmakers made a lot. The match result never upset them. Don’t forget Spain did lose to South Korea in the quarter-final of last World Cup. Oh, Spain again, what a co-incidence.

Posted by Mario | Report as abusive

Visithttp://onthebreak.wordpress.com/for more Footbball opinion

Posted by onthebreak | Report as abusive

Great blog Mike!I thought the USA were brill the other night, they played their hearts out! Personally I love it when the underdog wins through and stirs up the pot, especially in such a convincing manner by way of their own merits!I imagine it must be difficult for any nation, even one as large as the USA, to have resources to pull from when the ‘cream of the crop’ of it’s athletes are more likely to be steered away into that country’s own more traditional sports.It’s the shocks and surprises that make every tounament memorable, so rock on South Africa 2010!AND IF the USA beat Brazil on Sunday, I wonder what rank THAT upset might be given ?!You can ‘never say never’!!!

Posted by peanut | Report as abusive

The American fighting spirit can get us the cup, Brazil will be a tough opponent but we can do it!

Posted by Raccoon | Report as abusive

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Posted by ban vuvuzela dot com | Report as abusive