BRENT LATHAM - Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Spain vs United States
Conferations Cup - Wednesday June 24, 2009
Free State Stadium
Bob Bradley's men pulled off a stunning upset over the world's number one ranked team, beating Spain to advance to their first-ever FIFA international final.

The Americans were buoyed by captain Carlos Bocanegra, who returned to action, at left back, alongside the usual central tandem of Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu.

In somewhat uncharacteristic fashion, the American skipper opted to play Spain straight up, coming out in a 4-4-2 with Josmer Altidore and Charlie Davies up top. In just the sixth minute the US served notice when Davies, starting again after his sensational display against Egypt, pulled off a full bike in the area that rolled just wide.

A minute later Davies was at it again, flashing a header across the face of the Spanish goal, before Clint Dempsey tried his luck from outside the box and missed just a little wide.

The US continued to pick its spots and find space, and Landon Donovan had his own shot from outside the area after a long run forward with the ball.

Spain didn't create its first real chance until the 21st minute, when Albert Riera picked up a ball on the right wing and cracked a shot that rolled horizontally across the box and out for a throw in.

Jozy Altidore, who plays his club soccer for Villarreal in Spain, put the Americans on the board first in the 26th minute when he turned defender Capdevila. The young striker's shot smacked off the hand goalkeeper Iker Casillas and then the post to give the Red, White and Blue a stunning lead.

Spain came forward in irritation, and David Villa missed the top corner from six yards after a deflection landed at his feet in the box.

The Americans were still looking dangerous, and in the 36th minute Donovan lofted a set piece into the box where a storming Dempsey headed high, with a wide open Carlos Bocanegra crashing in behind him.

As the half wore on, Spain dominated possession and came closest through Fernando Torres, who beat Bocanegra into the box but could not beat Tim Howard, who kicked away his low shot.

The Spanish came out furious in the second half as David Villa ripped a shot that Tim Howard saved brilliantly on the dive to preserve the shutout.

In the 54th minute the Spaniards had a legitimate penalty claim denied by Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda when Donovan bundled over Xavi in front of the net.

But it was not to be the Spaniards night. After a couple more close misses by Spain, who had eight shots on goal in total, the Americans would build a two goal lead in the 74th minute when Dempsey jumped on a poor touch from Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos at the far post. The Fulham-man easily poked the ball past a helpless Casillas for the second goal of the game.

The goal was the result of beautiful combination play beginning on the foot of Benny Feilhaber, who had entered for Davies. Feilhaber advanced the ball downfield and played it for Donovan, who sliced a pass into the area that was touched by two Spanish defenders before Dempsey got his foot on it.

The low point for team USA came late, when Michael Bradley was mysteriously sent off in the 86th minute for a nothing challenge, ruling him out of the Confederations Cup final against the winner of the Brazil and South Africa match to be played Thursday.

"We're excited to be in the final," Bob Bradley said later at the press conference. "Whenever you're in the final you have a chance to win the tournament."

"The motivation will be high and regardless of whether we play against Brazil or the Bafana Bafana. The challenge wil be great, but at that point only two teams will have the chance to lift the tropy."

"Of course it's disappointing to go down a man at the very end," the coach said about his son's sending off. "We're constantly working with all our players to play aggressively but also to be disciplined."

"Anytime any of your players pours his heart into a game and to see him lose the chance to play in a final, I think players all around the world understand what that means. That's as difficult and tough as it gets."

With the crowd chanting USA-USA and screaming Ole Ole, the Spanish frustration grew as the two goal lead proved too much to overcome. The Spaniards left the field in irritation, as the Americans celebrated in front of a newly appreciative crowd.
Ed C.
Friday June 26, 2009 5:09 am
Brazil was bad last night. Let's hope they'll be bad Sunday too!
Thursday June 25, 2009 3:11 am
USA played very well, great defense, good offense.

Jozy is still pretty raw. Needs to work harder and be smoother.

Dempsey is dangerous but not often enough.

Bradley is the best defensive midfielder on the team, we need a real ......attacking midfielder!

Charlie Davies is for real.

That was a soft red card when compared to MLS and EPL but NOT other .....leagues in the world, learn to control yourself!

Bob is a good American coach with a provincial approach to the game. I .....don't believe that can take us very far in the world cup.

We need to see more of Torres, Feilhaber, and possibly Adu. We need to develop players with the American heart and soul displayed against Spain, but with the softer skills (where have attacking players with Latin style skills gone?). O'Brien was the last one - remember him? We went to the quarters in '02.

Great job guys. Keep fighting but bring the skills!!!!
Thursday June 25, 2009 2:39 am
Great win for the USA!!!

I'm so proud of this team. I'm man enough to admit that I was very down on our guys, but they've proven me wrong and I'm so happy that they have.

I've been begging for the Spector, Onyewu, Demerit, Bocanegra backline and I finally got it! All of these guys have raised their stock so much in my opinion. They are without a doubt the reason we are at this point.

Other guys who have played great are Davies, Donovan, Howard and Deuce.

We made our luck today, with nothing but our hearts. I don't care who we're playing, if we bring that much heart with us, we can win. I haven't been this happy since Benny's goal in the Gold Cup. Great job guys. I'll never forget this game.
Douglas Morris
Thursday June 25, 2009 1:53 am
In a few posts in the last few days I have ragged on Bradley and am happy to say I was wrong. He put a team and a formation on the pitch that was set to compete against Spain. And compete they did. Certainly Spain has more possession, more shots, more corners, and more scoring opportunities than the USA, but football is a funny game that way. To be fair, the US had 3 very questionable offside rulings go against them that would have led to break away situations. So Spain could have scored a lot and the US could have scored more. Today was out day.

There are still chinks in our armor. We need some depth. We still need a crisp finisher. But Kudos to Bradley for convincing his team they could compete, and putting 'em out there in a way that would help them do that.

Thursday June 25, 2009 1:47 am
Coach Potatoes Disengage!

Ah, the rapture. As mentioned above already, this is exactly the back four I was hoping for. Keeping this group together will cause problems for everyone in the future. They were formidable. As far as wingback work, Spector was better than Boca. But I'm Not Complaining! Whoohoo!

Though everyone seems to think Bradley's card was harsh it looked to me like he was one foot studs up right at the dude's ankle. I think the call stands.

So....who subs for Bradley now in the championship?
Thursday June 25, 2009 1:23 am
Is there a vendetta against USA soccer? Because the only tackle that deserved red was Clark's against Gattuso. He clearly was late and swiped at the knees. Bradley's tackle got ball. I just don't get it.
Wednesday June 24, 2009 11:11 pm
"America can always be counted on to do the right thing, after it has exhausted all other possibilities."

I think this can be applied to certain players, but especially to Bob. We played this way because Ching was injured= Davies, Hedjuk was injured and Wynne blew it= Spector, Beasley showed in one play why he should never play again, and Klejstan red card= Feilhaber, and Boca being injured= the starting tandem of Epic proportions, Gooch and Demerit. Oh yeah, and Boca playing natural position. And the attacking play? We needed 3 vs. Egypt.

Also, bucket Finally works versus Spain as we combat Fabregas and Xavi, forcing them wide for the big guys at the back.

OK. I will give credit to Bob for Finally playing the right people and Not bunkering down (for a while), but still instilling enough paranoia that we defended like titans.

This was the single greatest match in US history. And we've still got Torres, Edu, and Adu, very young, and in the wings.

And to the guy who bad mouthed Altidore. IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU SHOULD NOT BE THIS DUMB.
Wednesday June 24, 2009 10:44 pm
Excellent game! Everyone is good. Howard, Donovan, DeMerit and Gooch are great!
Wednesday June 24, 2009 10:16 pm
Right on Phil, there is no question that the US beat Spain's strongest side today. On all the blogs and newspapers, not a single writer is questioning the legitimacy of this win! The determination they showed on the pitch today was remarkable and my admiration and respect goes out to our boys!
Wednesday June 24, 2009 10:07 pm
Charles.....what have you been smoking? Better yet, what game were you watching? I just saw a replay of the Red card. First of all, Bradley came from the front, not from behind. Second, cleats were not up more than 2 inches off the ground. And he beat the other player to the ball. Remember, this is the same referee who sent off Mastroeni in the WC against Italy and sent off Clark in the first game here. Either he has some discrimination against the US or he is incredibly an inept referee.
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