The United States had led at the half 97 times and only lost once in their Cup tournament history. Today they led 2-0 over soccer juggernaut Brazil and, if not for the constant annoying buzzing of horns, I’m sure you could hear a faint “USA…USA.” At the half, ESPN anchor and former USA soccer representative Alexi Lalas said that he was so excited his legs were shaking under the table, but he quickly warned “Brazil is gonna come!” USA secured the lead with a goal by Clint Dempsey followed by another from Landon Donovan. The goalkeeping was superb as well, with Tim Howard, saving the US defense’s butt on a number of occasions.
Alexi Lalas earned his fat ESPN check, though, as the Brazilians came out with extreme intensity in the second half. At the 46 minute mark, Luis Fabiano scored his 4th goal in 5 matches, making the score 2-1. Then again at the 60 mark, Kaka headed a ball to the brink of the goal line but it was ultimately ruled a save by Howard. The announcers seemed to come to the conclusion that the ball was probably a goal but soccer does not do replays so the call of “no goal” stuck. To say that the US was holding on for dear life would be a major understatement. The US would fight back when, nearing the 66 minute mark, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey would have two great cracks at the goal that had the Brazilian goalie on his heels but were ultimately smacked away.
The Brazilians would not go away, though, as Kaka weaved into the box and started a series of shots that would eventually end in another Luis Fabiano goal, this time a header. After battling for awhile, Brazil would take the 3-2 lead on a corner kick to header goal by a man so cool he only has one name, Lucio. From there on, it was all just a matter of time management and control of possession for the Brazilians. Eventually the clock would run out on the game as well as the American’s Confederation Cup hope. Not leaving empty handed, the United States put on a good showing in the first half against a very very good Brazilian squad and had previously beaten another soccer juggernaut in Spain. Tim Howard would eventually win the “Golden Glove” award, surprisingly over the winning Brazilian keeper. This was definitely one that got away from the Americans, though, and left them disappointed. US leader Landon Donovan said in frustration after the game, “We don’t want respect, we wanna win.”
In other United States news, this time with a happy ending, I received this twitter from USA Basketball today:
After traveling for 34 hours, the USA U19 team scrimmaged Croatia less than 24 hours after arriving in New Zealand and posted a 97-68 win.
This is in reference to the World Championship scrimmage victory that the US U19 team got early this morning over the Croatian team. The Americans had to go on a 21-9 run to get a 45-37 lead at the half. They finally put the Croatians away by dominating the fourth quarter 30-15.
Seth Curry led the Americans with 16 points. Lexington’s own Shelvin Mack was a stat-stuffer, piling up 12 points, 6 assists, and 4 steals. The United States, along with Kentucky’s Darius Miller, will start preliminary round play out of pool B on July 2nd against Iran, followed by a July 3rd meeting with France and a 4th of July game with Egypt.
The moral of the story is don’t let go of your patriotism yet. The US still has a chance to prove themselves in our sport of historical dominance, basketball. So don’t put away your red and white striped polo with navy blue, star embedded, collar just yet. Our U19 boys are still representin‘.