It will be more than twenty four hours before the ball is dropped at Ellis Park in Johannesburg for the championship final of the Confederations Cup and after such a Jekyll & Hyde side in our US National Team from their first two group matches to their three goal victory against Egypt while getting help from Brazil as they took out Italy with three goals of their own and a Semi-Final shocker to take out the number one ranked side in the world.
Here we are ladies and gentleman our first final in a official FIFA competition outside our Confederation’s Tournament that is honestly a notch or two below the World Cup. But for the USA it really doesn’t matter what the heavy critics from England say. They can down play it all they want because for us, this tournament as is the World Cup will be our only chance to face world class talent.
But let’s get to the matter at hand with this post and that is the match up between Brazil & the USA. Historically this coming Sunday will be the fifthtenth match between the two sides and the results have been one sided, yet we all remember the victory during the Semi-Finals of the 1998 Gold Cup when CONCACAF invited guest teams to the tournament and Brazil was always the favorite to accept the challenge. That was the one goal victory when Preki scored a late goal in the second half and Kasey Keller made 35 saves to help the USA advance into the final, losing to eventual champions Mexico.
But I think we all know that the other thirteen matches either in a friendly, Gold Cup Confederations Cup & the World Cup hasn’t been pretty for the National Team. A combined total of eight goals scored to a whopping twenty-six goals against and that includes the last match in Group B of this current Confederations Cup. In four Semi-Finals (3 Gold Cups & 1 Copa America) February 10th, 1998 was the miracle win when Romario was apart of Brazil’s National Team. Three Confederation Cup matches in Group B outside of the disappointing effort were one goal defeats. But the goal scorers for Brazil in those matches and the last Gold Cup match in the semis on July 23rd, 2003 were names like Ronaldinho, Adriano & Kaka.
The year we hosted the World Cup in 1994 was also a one goal loss in the round of 16. Most of us remember when Tab Ramos got a flying head butt that cracked his skull by Leonardo who got a straight red in the 43rd minute. The USA was up a man till they allowed Bebeto to convert a chance in the 72nd minute. Yes there is a lot of negatives in this series for the USA and a single ray of light, but did you know that there are some small positives that we can hang our hat on.
Did you know that Carlos Bocanegra & Bertrand Patenaude are the only players to score a combined two goals against the lemon shirts and Patenaude scored his goals in a single game. The friendly back in Solider Field in Chicago saw the USA score two goals in a single match wasn’t the first time our National Team put more than one past them. The very first matchup against Brazil was after the 1930 & first ever World Cup as the USA put three past Brazil on August 17th, but they scored four.
What does this all mean for the USA this coming Sunday afternoon? Just as all the odds was stacked against them before playing Spain, there is a solid chance of them getting a victory either thru ninety minutes, or pushing it into extra time and if necessary penalties. This group finally got their heart, fire and spirit back. At the same time Bob Bradley finally found a way not to second guess himself where certain players that he favored failed him. He fixed the problem and got two solid performences from players that clicked on all cylinders. If Brazil starts this match sloppy like they did against South Africa, I believe the boys will punish them severely.
No matter what happens this group has already sent a shot heard around the world. Spain went down fighting and now it’s Brazil’s turn to get a dose of the American Football Revolution.