The United States stunned the world as they beat European Champion Spain 2-0 in the Confederations Cup semi-finals on goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. Altidore scored the initial goal in the 27th minute after a booming shot found itself in the back of Iker Casillas’ net. Dempsey later netted a second-half goal due to sloppy defending from a usually stout Spanish defense.
The chance of getting the opportunity to play Spain was unfathomable. The U.S. was outclassed by World Champion Italy in their first match and later dissected apart by Brazil in their following match. Thanks to a 3-0 victory over Egypt in their final group match, the U.S. managed to advance on goal differential, which led to their eventual upset win over Spain.
Although this is not the biggest victory in U.S. soccer history, it is most definitely monumental. Spain is the champion of Europe, ranked No. 1 by FIFA in the world rankings and arguably have the best domestic league in the world. Barcelona just recently lifted the Champions League trophy, while Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite (aka Kaka) and Cristiano Ronaldo are leaving their respective clubs to join legendary side Real Madrid of the Spanish League.
From the very first whistle, Americans were hungry animals running toward victory; a sort of Running of the Bulls, only not in Pamplona, Spain. Hungry for more, the U.S. will be matched against the winner between host nation South Africa and world powerhouse Brazil. Brazil is coming off a dominating victory over Italy.
The Confederations Cup is not the most celebrated tournament in soccer, but it can be used as a barometer to measure international status. The U.S. has proven they can compete beside the best teams in the world. And if the Americans fall short in the final, at least they can brag about having played with the big boys. 2010 World Cup, here we come!