Brazil defeat USA in Confederation Cup final

USA News and Reviews  By Aldwyn McGill

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Brazil defeat USA 3-2 to win Confederation Cup

Brazil showed character to defeat USA 3-2 to win the FIFA 2009 Confederation Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa.  In the semi final the Brazilians struggled with host South Africa and had to utilize a well taken free kick in the 88th minute to salvage a 1-0 win and its right to play USA in the final.

USA on the other hand entered the Confederation final beaming with confidence after defeating Spain, the number one ranked team in the world on goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey and a strong defensive performance.

Brazil was favored heading into the final, but USA could not be taken lightly. It was a given that Brazil would have the advantage in the ball possession, but many felt that it would have been a good match up of Brazil high powered offense which had average over three goals a game and USA stingy defense.

As it turned out it was USA offense that struck first, although Brazil had their share of early chances.  USA opened the scoring on a goal by Dempsey at the 10th minute, after he redirected Jonathan Spector’s cross from just inside the penalty spot to beat keeper Julio Cesar inside the far post.

The stage was set for an exciting encounter when the Americans did not let up and followed up the opening goal with a second score from Landon Donavan to take a 2-0 halftime lead. Many felt we had a game on our hands in the second half.

Brazil offense had not been shutout to that point in the tournament and USA was cashing in on counter attacks. To add to the suspense Brazil had not win after being in two-goal deficit games on four previous occasions under Brazil coach Dunga.

However, Brazil did not waste any time in trying to dispel the myth in the second half to stage after Luis Fabiano scored in the 46th minute and equalized in the 74th minute to start Brazil dramatic come-back, which occurred when Lucio added the winner in the 84th minute to earn Brazil its third title.

Although many may say that the Brazil victory was inevitable since Brazil soccer is superior to that of the Americans, for me it was USA inexperience that cost them and was the difference in the game as it took its toll on the players towards the end of the game.

USA was playing in their first world final in its history, while Brazil is a five-time World Cup champ for the 14th time in 15 tries and has earned its second title in two weeks. Championship experience is extremely valuable when going into a final and although USA fans may have felt that it looked like it was their destiny due of their emotional rollercoaster after having to rally after losses to Italy (3-1) and Brazil (3-0) before defeating Egypt 3-0 to reach the semi final against Spain, it did not turn out that way.

However, I am of the belief that USA have proven that they are the #1 team in CONCACAF and that soccer in the region is not that far away from a world championship at the senior level. USA captain Donavan could not have said it any better when questioned.

 “Yeah we’re disappointed. To give up goal so fast in the second half hurt,” Donovan said. “Give credit to them, they kept coming in wave after wave; they probably deserved to win.

“But it’s a disappointing when we gave such a great effort.’

On the flip side Brazil coach Dunga was ecstatic after winning the Cup which has extended Brazil’s winning streak to eight and unbeaten string to 16.

“Even when we went 2-0 down, we still believed we would win. To come back from this deficit you need a team of men”

 Dunga became the only man to win the FIFA Confederations Cup as a player and coach.

 “We were very determined. To come back from this deficit you need a team of men. I’m proud of my players.”

Lucio and Luis Fabiano, were instrumental in Brazil’s Confederation Cup win and finished atop of the Castrol Index to seize the Adidas Golden Shoe respectively.

While Kaka, was named Budweiser Man of the Match in the final and won the Adidas Golden Ball as the MVP of the Tournament

It was a bitter sweet situation for USA, who can take tremendous pride in their effort to reach the final and giving a good account of themselves and a good representation for CONCACAF.

However coach Bradley and his USA team would have to learn from their experience or lack of it after giving up three unanswered goal in the second half to lose the Confederation Cup 3-2 and Bradley explained.

 “The experience for our players in South Africa has been very special. It’s something we’ll remember and use as motivation to be back here next year for the World Cup.”

Besides Brazil and USA South Africa and the supporters made the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup a tremendous success.

Daniel Alves fires Brazil into final

FIFA.COM /24/2009 – BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa – Brazil edged South Africa 1-0 in a very tight semi-final thanks to Daniel Alves’s brilliant late free-kick. The Barcelona wing-back only entered the fray in the latter stages, but his 88th-minute rocket finally undid goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.

The game kicked off to the sound of vuvuzelas reverberating around the stadium, and within seconds, so too was the roar of ‘Booooooth’ as South Africa’s towering defender got his first touch. Teko Modise drew gasps from his adoring supporters in the fourth minute by bursting past two opponents before Lucio aborted the attack, and Felipe Melo did brilliantly to dispossess Steven Pienaar after the Everton playmaker had wriggled away from two markers down the left.

South Africa had begun brightly, but it was Brazil who created the first opportunity on 14 minutes. Maicon galloped down the right flank and neatly cut the ball back for Luis Fabiano, on the edge of the area. The Sevilla striker squared the ball for Ramires, whose left-foot shot was gathered by goalkeeper Khune.

Bafana Bafana instantly responded with an opportunity of their own. Siboniso Gaxa won the ball inside the opposition half, raced forward and unleashed a piercing, 30-yard drive that went narrowly wide of Julio Cesar’s right post. Aaron Mokoena came even closer to breaking the deadlock on 21 minutes, heading a pinpoint Modise free-kick inches over when unmarked.

Another set-piece, this time a direct shot on goal from Tsepo Masilela, was tipped over by Julio Cesar on 27 minutes. Kaka then sprung to life, collecting the ball in midfield, accelerating past two adversaries and feeding Ramires, who, well placed inside the South Africa box, failed to control the ball. Ten minutes before half-time, Andre Santos employed fine technique to test Khune, who was nonetheless equal to his long-range attempt.

Kaka was next to try his luck. The Brazil No10 raced inside from the left and curled a trademark effort just wide of the post, and the same player forced a save out of Khune, following another charge into opposition territory, with the half running out. There was still time for Pienaar to shoot narrowly wide from 25 yards and to block a fierce Andre Santos free-kick, before the referee’s whistle brought an entertaining, albeit goalless, half to a close.

Brazil swiftly assumed the initiative upon resumption of the second half. First, Kaka sprinted down the left touchline, before darting inside and winning a corner, which came to nothing. Then, Maicon played a one-two with Luis Fabiano and crossed for Kaka, who headed over but had been penalised for a foul anyway.

The pendulum then swung in the favour of Joel Santana’s side. Pienaar’s on-target shot was blocked by Luisao, before a Modise shot took a wicked deflection off the aforementioned defender and forced Julio Cesar to dive to his left and tip the ball round his upright. This spell of pressure prompted vociferous shouts from the South African faithful.

Luis Fabiano and Robinho then wasted half-chances inside the Bafana Bafana box, but it was the underdogs who were doing the majority of the pressing. And when Masilela cruised past two Brazilians down the left wing, his ensuing cross was just inches too high for the leaping Bernard Parker.

In the end the Brazilians needed a set piece to seal the deal and book a place in the final against the United States, who they beat 3-0 in the first round. After a foul on the edge of the area by Mokoena, substitute Daniel Alves curled his shot home with his right boot to end the Africans’ brave fight.

U.S. shocks Spain 2-0 in Confederations Cup semifinals

The United States ended Spain’s 15-game winning streak with a 1-0 victory on Wednesday, upsetting the European champion with goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey to reach the final of the Confederations Cup for the first time.

The result was the Americans’ first victory in four attempts against the op-ranked Spanish, which also saw its record 35-match unbeaten streak ended.

The United States played an inspired first half, creating several chances. But it played nearly the second half in its own end, finishing with 10 men, and survived with a collective defensive effort highlighted by key performances by central defender Oguchi Onyewu and goalkeeper Tim Howard, and Dempsey’s goal against the run of play.

Onyewu constantly anticipated passes and diffused danger while Howard made several saves that looked like sure goals.

“We played as hard as we could. That’s what it took,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “We’ll take a few hours to regroup. We’re so excited about this.”

The victory puts the United States into Sunday’s final against either host South Africa or a rematch against Brazil. Brazil beat the Americans 3-0 in the first round.

The United States took nearly four minutes before it gained any meaningful possession, but then started looking dangerous beginning with a bicycle attempt by Charlie Davies in the seventh minute that went wide left.

Fernando Torres and Sergio Ramos troubled the U.S. defense, but Spain also found itself tested with a shot from distance by Landon Donovan in the 21st minute.

Altidore, who plays in Spain for Xerez, converted in the 27th minute, taking a ball from Dempsey at his feet, muscling off Joan Capdevilla at the top of the penalty area, turning and shooting. Diving Spain keeper Iker Casillas managed to get his right hand to deflect the ball, but it only slightly altered the path as it bounced in off the left post.

It was the first goal allowed by Spain in the tournament.

The United States continued to create chances in the first half, but appeared overwhelmed by Spain after the break. The Spanish created no fewer than five chances in the first 11 minutes of the second half, and the Americans looked ready to break.

The U.S. gave away the ball cheaply in the middle third, inviting repeated attacks. But it occasionally broke free and in the 74th, Donovan worked open down the right side, and his cross was slightly deflected by Gerard Pique before Ramos’ stopped it. Dempsey was positioned at the left post, turned and struck the ball under Casillas for the insurance.

The Americans played the final four minutes down a man after Michael Bradley was ejected for a physical foul, the third time in four games the U.S. had man red carded.

The victory probably comes as one of the biggest in U.S. soccer history, along with its victory over England in the 1950 World Cup, its win over Trinidad to qualify for the 1990 World Cup, and its victory over Brazil in the 1998 Gold Cup.