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After a wave of optimism following their successful run in the Confederations Cup, the United States have come back down to earth with their 2-1 defeat to Mexico.
Although Mexico didn’t seal their victory on Wednesday until Miguel Sabah’s strike seven minutes from the end, the result actually flattered the United States who were outplayed at the Azteca stadium.
The U.S’s victory over European champions Spain in the Confederations Cup and their impressive performance in the final against Brazil – when they lead 2-0 before going down 3-2, showed the potential of Bob Bradley’s team.
Mexico though, reborn under coach Javier Aguirre, exposed the lingering weaknesses in the U.S line-up – as well as sending out a strong message that they aren’t about to get give up their long standing position as the dominant power in the CONCACAF region.
The US national team beat European champions Spain in the Confederations Cup and give Brazil a scare in the final. In the NFL heartland of Baltimore, 71,000 turn out to watch Chelsea v AC Milan.
In Pasadena, Chelsea v Inter Milan pulls in 81,000.
David Beckham gets booed and jeered on his return for L.A Galaxy and the American sporting public laps it up – top sports talk shows, which usually ignore soccer other than to mock the game occasionally, lead their bulletins on the issue.
A German official wanting to make the pronunciation of the African vuvuzela instrument clear to German reporters said last week: “Vuvuzela: it sounds like Uwe Seeler“.
This seems to be the only thing Seeler, the Hamburg striker who reigned supreme from the mid-50s to the early 70s, has in common with the African instrument that caused considerable controversy during the Confederations Cup in South Africa last month.
So, the Confederations Cup is over and much of the pessimistic handringing beforehand proved unfounded.Despite some real logistical problems, the general verdict seems to be that the tournament was a success with enthusiastic and colourful crowds and some classy and unpredictable football, not least the United States’ shock semi-final defeat of Spain and a thrilling final where Brazil went 2-0 down to the Americans before storming back to win 3-2 and ensure the football world was not thrown off its axis.Crucially, South Africa’s own team, Bafana Bafana, did a lot better than many of their own fans had expected. The side suffered a lot of bad press from their terrible pre-competition form — they did not even qualify for next year’s African Nations Cup finals — and Brazilian coach Joel Santana had been treated with scepticism by football writers and fans alike. Even Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the organising committee for next year’s World Cup, expressed concern over their form. After a slow start, however, South Africa turned in a creditable, if not outstanding performance. They reached the semi-final and held eventual champions Brazil until the 88th minute when they went down to a scorching free kick by Daniel Alves. And in the third place final they pushed European champions Spain into extra time before finally losing 3-2, again to a freekick.They badly need more strike power and it looks like Santana must make peace with English-based striker Benni McCarthy who was dropped from the team for his apparent lack of commitment. But their performance gave grounds for some optimism.Bafana Bafana’s Confederations Cup performance was key to the 2010 World Cup because it will encourage local fan participation — a constant worry for the organisers, who expressed concern before this tournament about lack of home enthusiasm.Nevertheless, there are continuing worries that even the cheapest World Cup tickets are still too expensive for working class South Africans and that they will be unwilling to pay in advance for entrance in a year’s time, something which goes directly against the entrenched local custom of buying tickets on match days.World Cup matches attended predominantly by foreign fans and restrained, middle class South Africans would be a huge disappointment for the first World Cup held in Africa, where the unique local atmosphere was a major selling point.That isn’t the only worry in considering what the Confederations Cup tells us about the likely success of next year’s much bigger global competition.FIFA boss Sepp Blatter gave organisers 7.5 points out of 10 for the Confederations Cup but World Cup veterans said this was nothing to be complacent about, given his likely tendency to talk up the tournament. Even Blatter said South Africa had to do “a little bit more” and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke was more direct, acknowledging problems with transport, security and accommodation capacity, which is still significantly below what will be required next year.Security is a particularly sensitive issue, given South Africa’s frightening reputation for violent crime, so it was unfortunate that the Confederations Cup saw alleged thefts from both Egyptian and Brazilian teams, although some of the circumstances remain mirky.More serious were security lapses in access to stadiums and other areas. Such failures must be cleared up in the time that remains if fans are to follow their teams without constantly looking over their shoulders.So the Confederations Cup provided both encouragement and warnings. Okay so far, but much more to be done. The next 12 months may be both nerve racking and frenetic for the organisers but we are all still hoping for a reasonably trouble-free football extravaganza with the special atmosphere that only Africa can give it–including those pesky vuvuzela trumpets…PHOTO: A South African fan at the June 28 Confederations Cup final REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
The U.S. were 2-0 up at halftime and threatening another major shock before Brazil stormed back to win 3-2 and seal the Confederations Cup.
Goals by Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan had Brazil in big trouble but Luis Fabiano took his tournament tally to five in five games when he scored just after the restart and equalised in the 74th minute. Brazil captain Lucio completed the job when he rose superbly to head home an Elano corner six minutes from time.
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.
The Confederations Cup, effectively a warm-up tournament for the World Cup, rarely captures the imagination but fans in the United States aren’t lacking enthusiasm for the tournament after their team produced a major upset by defeating European champions Spain 2-0.
Goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey ended Spain’s world record run of 15 successive victories and their 35-match unbeaten sequence, a world record streak they share with Brazil. That run has taken Spain to world number one in FIFA’s global rankings.
Italy’s entire soccer infrastructure needs an overhaul, captain Fabio Cannavaro said after the world champions arrived home from their Confederations Cup nightmare.
Elimination in the group stages after defeats to Egypt and Brazil followed a difficult few weeks for Serie A, with AC Milan’s Kaka sold to Real Madrid and other top players threatening to leave the stuttering league.
The noisy trumpet, which dominates the sound waves around the stadiums during the Confederations Cup, has got a lot of people covering their ears.
from Left field:
The South African sporting public were a little underwhelmed by the early stages of the Confederations Cup and the British and Irish Lions tour but the last few days has seen a major turnaround and there is now something in the air.
Relatively high ticket prices combined with the Sprinboks' decision to keep their players out of their Super 14 teams combined to ensure the early provincial games were played against a backdrop of empty seats.