By David Aneser, WSOE Sports
The United States Men’s Soccer team has just two games left in their quest to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The team has experienced the ups, beating Mexico 2-0 in Columbus and coming back to beat Honduras 2-1 in Chicago, to the lows, getting blown out in Costa Rica 3-1 and losing the gut wrencher at Azteca in august. Anyone who watched ESPN at all during June knows about the Confederations Cup, the second biggest competition the States compete in, and how the team went to the final. For those who follow the team, the game against Egypt was a turning point not only for the team but the entire US soccer organization. They had previously looked bad with two red cards and blowout losses to Italy and Brazil. Before the Egypt game, the press was talking about who should replace Bob Bradley. The team rallied around this and just like the ’04 Red Sox overcame astronomical odds. Not only did the US have to beat Egypt, the defending African champs, 3-0 and having Brazil beat Italy 3-0. Some oddsmakers in England were giving 9,000 to 1 odds. Egypt’s top 3 players all got hurt and subbed off in the game, Charlie Davies scored a scrappy goal followed by Bradley and Dempsey to win 3-0. Brazil did their part and beat Italy 3-0.
The US had to face the mighty Spain who were the defending European Champs, having gone undefeated in 35 consecutive games and winning 15 consecutive. Spain is filled with a who’s who of top flight soccer stars and oddsmakers for this game were giving 14 to 1 odds for the US to win. Anyone who watched remembers Jozy Altidore holding off his club teammate Joan Capdevilla to score the first goal. Follow this with goalie Tim Howard standing on his head and defenders diving all over. (Note: I have watched soccer for most of my life and I have NEVER seen more blocked shots from field players in my life.) Clint Dempsey then showed true grit to score the clinching goal in the last 10 minutes and the US was on to their first FIFA tournament final ever.
In the final the US was riding high facing a Brazil team that was not as attack minded as previous teams. The US started about as well as they could, Spector sent in a cross that Dempsey got just a good enough deflection on to put it pass Julio Caesar. The second goal was a thing of absolute beauty. Ricardo Clark gave a pass out of the back to Landon Donovan who hit it up to Charlie Davies who brought it up and crossed it back to Donovan who took one touch and put it in the back of the auld onion bag (football term for goal). As we all remember, the second 45 minutes weren’t as good for the US as the first 45. Luis Fabiano scored 45 seconds into the half followed by Kaka leading a Brazilian attack that clicked on all cylinders and put two more past Howard, also one more not counted, by the end of the game to win 3-2.
The next step for the US was Mexico at the Azteca, playing at 7,000 feet above altitude the US struck early with Charlie Davies. Davies’ celebration was cut short, where he planned to do the stanky leg, because there were bags of vomit and urine being thrown at him, yea its intense. Mexico scored once before half and once in the last 8 minutes to win the game. There was very questionable officiating but the US didn’t get any points out of the game and Mexico were back in the hunt. Three more games were played since then leaving the US top of the table with 16 points.
There are now two more games for the US team to qualify. At Honduras, which has political unrest, and at home for Costa Rica. If the US is able to beat Honduras, they officially qualify for the World Cup. Depending on other games the US can also advance with a draw. This game will not be broadcasted on TV because none of the big companies bought the rights to the game (Sat 10pm). ESPN has the rights to game against Costa Rica, which will be at 8pm on Wednesday the 14th. The US will be without starting midfielder Clint Dempsey against Honduras but he may come back against Costa Rica.
Seriously why should you care, IT’S YOUR NATIONAL TEAM! Those of you who don’t like soccer and say it’s a fake sports and all they do is dive, watch, you’ll see it’ not true. Remember, there is a reason it is the most popular sport in the world. The World Cup final is watched by 2 billion people, the Super Bowl, by 300 million. Just for these games, start to catch World Cup fever. It’s the one fever that everyone wants and can only be cured by more cowbell.