Sunday, 28 June 2009

Sporting public ambivalent to USA's improving soccer team

Heartbreak for the USA; the Confederations Cup trophy was dangled enticingly before them like a popstar's baby. They surrendered a two-goal half-time lead to mighty Brazil, who successfully retained the title by winning 3-2 inside normal time. Fitting that the five-times World Cup winners should become the first nation to win this tournament three-times, but America coulda shoulda!

Having seen off European Champions, Spain in the semis, the US got stronger during the tournament despite their unlikely path to the final. Let's not forget Brazil took them apart earlier in the tournament, three-nil.

I watched the final in a Miami Beach bar. There was scant cheering; certainly insufficient to warrant the magnitude of their progression to, and performance in the final. Baseball and the other American sports are just too established. Their culture stands firm.

For the Americans can take tremendous credit from their first-half show. They simply ran out of steam and lacked depth against the Brazilians, who punched the wind out of their sails with an early second-half goal. At 2-1, the tide turned South America's way.

The US are perennial qualifiers for the World Cup Finals, and many of their big players star in Europe's top leagues. They've a reputation for professionalism and discipline, and deservedly so.

But put a couple of quid on Brazil to win the World Cup next year. They're the only nation to win the tournament outside their continent, and they've done that thrice. As an Englishman, I daren't tempt fate by commenting on our chances (carpe diem, Fabio!)

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