In one of the greatest matches in U.S. Soccer history, the U.S. got goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey to stun No. 1-ranked Spain 2-0 and advance to the finals of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa.
The U.S. Men’s National Team will face the winner of the other semifinal match between Brazil and South Africa in their first ever final in a FIFA tournament on Sunday, June 28 in Johannesburg.
Altidore ignited the upset with a fantastic show of strength and skill to score from the top of the 18-yard box in the 27th minute, while Dempsey surprised the Spaniards to provide the insurance goal in the 74th minute. Tim Howard, who returned to goal after resting for the final group match against Egypt, made eight saves to match an impressive performance by the U.S. defense, which shutout Spain to snap their world record 15-game winning streak and 35-game unbeaten streak.
“For us it’s a big night,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley. “The players all work hard. We constantly talk about reaching higher and trying to accomplish new things. Spain is a team that we have the greatest respect for. They are a super team. Their ability to play, pass and move. We knew it was a challenge, but we felt that we would have a chance and that we could win this game.
“We had a real confidence that we could try to make it harder for them than some of the other teams they have play against, and we had the weapons that could cause them some trouble. We have some speed up front. We have some guys that come out of the midfield. I think that those are all things that work for us.”
“It’s huge for U.S. soccer,” said Dempsey. “I think it’s the first time for the men to be in the final of a major international competition. This is much sweeter because we were down and out. We came back fighting in the Egypt game. No one expected us to win this game. We fought hard, showed a lot of heart playing compact defensively, picked our moments to go forward and got some goals. We’re excited by the result, and I think all the fans back home will be excited as well.”
With the two-goal cushion, the U.S. put forth an impressive defensive effort to keep the clean sheet down the stretch. Two more confident saves by Howard in the 79th and 81st minutes were his last of the game as DeMerit, Spector, Onyewu, Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Clark, Donovan and Bradley all made key tackles and clearances.
In the 86th minute, the U.S. faced a major setback when Bradley was shown a red card for a slide tackle on Xavi Alonso on a 50-50 challenge, and the midfielder will now miss Sunday’s final. It was the third time in four games the U.S. has had a player sent off.
Dempsey continues to climb the all-time scoring lists for the U.S., and by scoring his 15th career goal, he is now tied with Cobi Jones for eighth on the all-time goal list. He also leapfrogged Claudio Reyna on the all-time points list and is now tied at ninth with Eddie Lewis with 36 points.
(courtesy of ussoccer.com)