DAVID SMITH - Thursday, June 25, 2009
After helping the US to a shock upset over Spain, Landon Donovan is reveling in the team's accomplishment and ready for whoever they are set to face in Sunday's final.
"We just beat the best team in the world, so whether we play Bafana Bafana or Brazil, we are emotionally on a bit of a high," Donovan told YA.
Wednesday's comprehensive 2-0 victory over the world's top ranked team saw the Stars and Stripes approach the game with a more aggressive tack for the second consecutive time, with their uptempo press already successfully pushing Spain from the opening minutes.
"Regardless of who we play we needed to start the games better," he explains. "It's not only because of what goes on on the field but mentally we've been starting more aggressively."
The Americans' assertive approach on the offensive end as well a stingy performance by the defense dealt the confounded European champions into their first shutout over 90 minutes since their overtime penalty shootout win over Italy in last summer's European Cup semifinal, and their first loss since late-2006.
"There was a lot of clear frustration," Donovan gleams.
In a scene which is all too familiar to the Americans, the frustrated Spanish team left the field without the customary exchange of jerseys, a move which Donovan and his teammates have become accustomed to from previous 2-0 victories over certain disconsolate opponents.
"They just walked off the field after the game," Donovan says. "Whatever, it's not my way."
"They were upset and they're not used to losing, so I can see why they would be frustrated."
Amid the ecstatic reaction of advancing to the Stars and Stripes' first ever final in a FIFA tournament is a small sense of trepidation, however, as the US were again dealt a questionable red card following a challenge by Michael Bradley in the dying minutes.
While only forcing the Donovan and his teammates to play the final four minutes of regulation a man down and having no effect on the ultimate outcome of the game, Donovan feels that Bradley's sending off was a glaringly unnecessary call so late in the game.
"In my opinion, unless it's a blatantly bad foul, two minutes from the final, you don't send a player off," he laments, however admitting that it ultimately is up to the official. "[But] that's for the referee's judgment."
The significance of the victory is not lost on the all-time leading scorer for the US, however, as they look to use this success as a springboard for future challenges, beginning with Sunday evening's date in the final.
"Sometimes you compete against a team like that, their quality is too much and they still beat you," he confessed. "But there are nights when you compete like this, you make some plays and you can win."
"That's what our expectation is."