The U.S. Soccer Team has overcome long odds to reach the Confederations
Cup semifinals in South Africa. The U.S. defeated Egypt, 3-0, and got
help from Brazil, which beat World Cup champion Italy by an identical
Counted out by just about everyone after lopsided losses to Italy and Brazil at this Confederations Cup, the U.S. Soccer team is surprisingly moving on to the semifinals by the narrowest of margins.
The second group tiebreaker had to be used after the USA, Italy and Egypt all finished with three points from one win and two losses. Brazil won all three of its matches to top Group B with nine points.
The Americans and Italians finished with goal differences of minus two, while Egypt had minus three. The next tiebreaker was goals scored, and the USA won out over Italy - 4 - 3.
The U.S. took the lead against Egypt in the 21st minute on a goal by forward Charlie Davies, who had not played in the previous two games. He managed to control a rebound off the Egyptian goalkeeper who was sprawled on the ground by the left post and booted it in off the keeper's hand.
The Americans held the 1-0 halftime lead. U.S. coach Bob Bradley said they knew in the other group match being played at the same time that Brazil had grabbed a 3-0 lead over Italy at the intermission.
"At halftime, we felt if we were smart and we continued to press in a good way, then there would be chances and that we could get two more goals," Bradley said. "So in that regard, credit the players for the push that they made throughout the game. And we're excited to move on."
The second goal for the United States came from the coach's son, midfielder Michael Bradley, in the 63rd minute, off a well-placed cross from captain Landon Donovan. The third goal - the one that would be the key to reaching the semifinals - was scored in the 71st minute on a header by midfielder Clint Dempsey off a long high pass into the box from defender Jonathan Spector.
Dempsey was named "Man of the Match". He said he knew only the day before the game that the Americans still had a mathematical chance to make it to the semifinals. He said that to achieve what they did is something special and something to build on.
"You know, you want to end on a good note and try to get something out of this tournament," Dempsey said. "It was important to us to deal with what we dealt with - losing two games to two good teams [Italy and Brazil]. But we were still going to work hard and try to get something out of it, and we did. And I think that says a lot about our coaches and a lot about our team and our mentality in trying to move forward and better ourselves as a national team and as footballers."
So the surprising turn of events on Sunday night with Brazil's 3-0 win over Italy and the Americans 3-0 win over Egypt puts the United States into the semifinals against European champion Spain - the Group A winner. Spain is on an international record 15-game winning streak.
Group B winner Brazil will face Group A runner-up, host South Africa.