“They scored again.” I heard UTRider say from his office. I couldn’t believe it and checked the gamecast. Sure enough, the US were up 2-0 over the top-ranked team in the world and European champions in the 74th minute.
After the 3-1 defeat to Italy, I had written them off for dead in the group stage of the Confederations Cup. The 3-0 loss to Brazil more or less sealed the deal in my mind, given they would need a six goal swing in the final group stage round to keep the defending world champions from advancing.
Then on Sunday, I got a text from my brother telling me that the hardly probable had happened—the US had defeated Eqypt 3-0, and Brazil had defeated Italy 3-0. The US and Italy were level on points at 3 each, level on goal differential, so it came to the second tie-breaker: goals scored. Advantage USA. Only problem is that meant playing Spain in the semi final.
Spain hadn’t lost a match since 2006 and were on a run of 35 games without a loss and 15 wins in a row in International play, both records. When I texted Dug to tell him of the 2-0 advantage, his response was pretty typical of football fans long accustomed to disappointing performances in international play: “they’ll find a way to lose.”
They didn’t. It’s not the world cup, but it’s the finals of an international tournament. Cheering for the US in football is like cheering for French riders in Le Tour—take whatever success you can find and pop the bubbly in celebration.