Americans stun Spain in semis

Thursday, June 25, 2009
Clint Dempsey reacts after scoring the United States' second goal during its Confederations Cup semifinal Wednesday in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (ANTONIO CALANNI ~ Associated Press)

The U.S. reached the finals in a FIFA event for the first time.

BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa -- The United States stunned top-ranked Spain 2-0 on Wednesday night on goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, advancing to the Confederations Cup final with one of the Americans' biggest soccer victories.

Altidore scored in the 27th minute and Dempsey added a goal in the 74th as the Americans became the first team to defeat Spain since Romania in November 2006.

The chances of such a U.S. victory seemed slim just a few days ago. The 14th-ranked Americans lost their first two games in the Confederations Cup, an eight-nation World Cup warmup, and were on the verge of elimination.

"I can't explain it any more than you can," U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "Sports is funny sometimes, but when you put your mind to something, you can achieve it."

Now they will play defending champion Brazil or host South Africa on Sunday in their first-ever men's final at a FIFA competition.

"It's exciting, a great team effort. To beat an amazing team like Spain and make the final, it's big," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "We played as hard as we could and that's what it took. Every guy contributed, so it's a very good feeling."

The U.S. has three full days to prepare for the final. It was outplayed thoroughly by Brazil in a 3-0 first-round meeting.

"We take a few hours to regroup, but we'll be ready," Bradley said. "We're so excited about this."

Spain, the European champion, had set an international record with 15 straight victories and had tied Brazil's record unbeaten streak of 35 games from December 1993 to January 1996.

"We're not used to losing," Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque said. "We lacked a little of our usual touch."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: