Tag: United States of America

The Confederations Cup: Brazil 3-2 USA

The Brazilian coach Dunga’s name translates as “Dopey” in Portuguese, but this soubriquet could have applied to his entire team this evening as the South American champions rode their luck against an American team which, unencumbered by such considerations as fatigue, outplayed them in every department in Johannesberg for forty-five minutes this evening. The Americans deployed the same tactics as they did against Spain during the week. They ran their hearts out, defended deeply and hit the Brazilians with two stunning breaks before half-time, but even these ended up being not quite enough, as Brazil found themselves in the second half and clawed their way back into the match. Earlier this afternoon, Spain had beaten South Africa to third place in the competition with a 3-2 win against the hosts in Rustenberg, in a match that came to life in the last fifteen minutes of normal time, which ended with an extraordinary thirty yard free kick from Katlego Mphela bringing South Africa level. A late, late freekick from Xabi Alonso which curled through about eighteen players to give Spain a win that much of their performance simply didn’t deserve. For South African supporters, though, there is at least cause for quiet optimism that even if they’re some way off being genuine challengers for the trophy, the rank humiliation that many had predicted for them won’t come to pass, at...

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The Confederations Cup: Spain 0-2 USA

Yes, yes, yes. Spain had an off night. It has been a long season and their players may have been tired. And so on. Let’s drop the excuses, here. Spain, the European champions and, if you read the print media in much of Europe, already the World Cup winners a year before the tournament, were beaten by a better team on this extraordinary evening in Bloemfontein. This evening, the USA were better organised, more committed and took their chances when they were presented to them. The question now is whether they can translate a result like this into something more concrete. It’s the biggest surprise in the latter stages of an international competition since Croatia dumped Germany so royally out of the 1998 World Cup. The USA team’s next job is to work towards this sort of a result not being a surprise any more. For the first couple of minutes Spain swarmed forward, but the pace of the game was soon being dictated by the Americans. They had wondered aloud what may happen if Spain didn’t properly turn up for this match, and the game plan was clear. Run, chase, tackle. Don’t give them time or space to stop and think. It was as much as they could do, but it was enough. This wasn’t the blanket defence of the minnow playing the major nation, it was deep...

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The Confederations Cup: USA 0-3 Brazil

The problem with the Confederations Cup, aside from those bloody, bloody, bloody vuvuzela air horns, is that it brings about more mismatches (in terms of quality) than even the World Cup.  However, you’d not necessarily have pegged this game as being one.  If the orthodox Anglocentric viewpoint is to be accepted – that ‘we’ invent sports so brilliant everyone in the world adopts them and then get good enough to beat us hollow – this match represents a battle between the great old new-world football power and the coming colossus.  In reality, the hardworking-but-useless USA team were taken to pieces by a Brazil side who, moving more into their stride now, could turn goalscoring opportunities on or off as it pleased them.  3-0 it finished and, as the old saying goes, the US were lucky to get nil. Brazil coach Dunga said that jet-lag was at least partially responsible for his side’s lacklustre display against Egypt on Monday and so had made 4 changes to his starting eleven.  This is a large number of changes to make in an entire tournament let alone between games, so is the sort of bold decision which is prone to making a manager’s reputation or else getting them in a lot of trouble.  The USA, who had been neat and tidy if little else in their defeat by a typically chaotic Italy on...

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The Confederations Cup: Italy 3-1 USA

It starts off as a low whining sound. You turn the sound down on the television wondering whether the washing machine is playing up or whether the cat is ill, but the sound goes away as you mute it. Are the speakers playing up? Is there a problem with the reception? It can’t be. In the all-new digital television age, there’s no such thing as a bad picture. It’s either a perfect picture or no picture at all. And then you remember. It’s those bloody horns. They sound like somebody has managed to capture the sound of tinnitus and they’re playing it at a slower speed. South Africans are very fond of them, apparently. Sepp Blatter should ban them before the World Cup finals, unless he wants the tournament to be watched with the mute button pressed down worldwide. Today has been a good day for The Confederations Cup – the opposite of the disastrous start that it had yesterday. This afternoon, Brazil scraped their way past Egypt with the aid of what looked like referee Howard Webb using the fourth official and, by extension, a television replay to give a last minute penalty. Tonight, meanwhile, we saw a thoroughly knockabout contest between Italy and the USA, a game with four goals – two of which are likely to be replayed as being amongst the finest of the tournament...

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The Confederations Cup – A (Very) Rough Guide

For some people, the end of the football season in years that end with odd numbers means a return to the real world. For two and a half months they become normal people, spending time with family and friends, allowing their sofas and their wallets to recover from the arduous few months that have just passed and giving every impression of being normal, well-rounded human beings. Others choose to prop themselves up with another sport, like tennis, cricket or rugby league. The rest of us, though, are suddenly rudderless. In years ending in even numbers, the end of the domestic football season means the beginning of getting excited about the World Cup or the European Championships (which is often better than the tournament itself). Those years ending in odd numbers, though… we spend the summer months staring blankly at “Big Brother” on the television or sitting in the pub wondering if it would be improper to try and instigate a conversation amongst your friends on the subject of just how much Roger Tames looked like Roger de Courcey (of “Nookie Bear” fame). This year, though, we have the Confederations Cup. FIFA’s excuse for the Confederations Cup makes a degree of sense. It’s a warm up for next years World Cup finals – chance for the host nation to test out its media and transport infrastructure prior to the tournament...

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