One of the greatest performances in national team history (yes, let’s veer from horror to hyperbole) even if it is a lightly-regarded tournament.

Box score.

Where have these guys been?

Sheer effort, movement off the ball, closing attackers down, goalkeeper Tim Howard looking unruffled and seemingly increasing in confidence with every save; the U.S. had it all today.

And the world’s best team couldn’t break down that defense.


Updated 3:35 p.m.: Freddy Adu just tweeted – “whattttttttt. greatest win in US Soccer history straight up. finals here we come.”

The game will be shown again at 8 p.m. on ESPN2, BTW.

Game story.

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  • Anon

    Awesome. While we bunkered in a bit after getting the first goal, it was really brilliant defending. Dempsey’s second goal was great hustle and the difference between their defender’s casual tap of the ball that led to the goal and Demerit and Onweyu’s clearances was stark. Howard made some stunning saves too.

    Lalas tried to push this down on the victory ranking because it wasn’t the World Cup, but it sure feels bigger than some of those vaunted WC early round victories. The fact that Spain hadn’t lost at all since 2006 and hadn’t lost to a non-Euro since 1999 (I think that’s right), coupled with the team’s play in the first two games of the tourney, makes this seem even more incredible.

    It’s a bummer that Bradley was red carded and won’t be available Sunday. Who will they put in his place? Sasha, Benny, Torres? I’m betting Sasha since they can keep the Benny/Davies/Dempsey rotation going that has worked so well.

  • Frank

    WOW! WOW! WOW!

    The only blemish – the red card on M. Bradley. Can his red card be appealed???

    Nick replies: No. Especially since he had his studs showing on that tackle right in front of the ref. The challenge could have broken the other player’s ankle.

  • Frank

    Thank you, Nick, for clearing up the red card issue for me. I missed the Bradley red card play while I was out grabbing my mail and have not seen a replay of it yet. No problem at all if it was indeed deserved. Thanks again!

  • Inigo Montoya

    What a blast. I will simply re-post the comment that I made after the Egypt game:

    Nick, I hope you recorded it. It was fun to watch — the USA controlled the midfield for the first time in many games.

    They showed some of what you Brits call “bottle” the likes of which we haven’t seen since 2002. A sharp contrast to the frantic stuff we occasionally saw against Italy and Brazil.

    Should have been 4-0 or 5-0. Altidore got robbed by a handball, and Donovan had uncharacteristic problems finishing, tho he more than compensated with terrific commitment for the full 90. Demerit and Onyewu were strong in the back as well, and Guzan had a chance to work out some kinks.

    Of course the US has no chance against Spain Wednesday, but they had no chance in the opening round against Portugal in 2002, or against Germany in the quarters the same year. But for a handball and a missed call, they might have been thru to the semis . . .

    I’m looking forward to watching Wednesday, but have no expectations at all. I’m just happy they get another crack at world-class competition before 2010.

  • Studs Up

    Just got a congratulatory email from a Spanish friend of mine. He actually applauded the “intelligent” US playing. I never thought I would ever hear that from a European. And this guy is actually a football reporter for a Spanish daily newspaper. Wow, this game has done us/US a world of good. Just hope for a better second showing against braSil. Gooch should name his own price now and Bayern Munich must be kicking themselves for passing up on Landon. This is the best I’ve ever seen him play and he still can get better. He has played like a man.

  • Luke Skywalker

    I’ve thought the US MNT has been improving incrementally, year to year, with MFs like Bradley and Dempsey, and perhaps in the not too distant future, Feilhaber and Clark, getting to Landon Donovan’s level.

    At some point, we were going to beat a world class team in a game that mattered. I felt that it was possible today would be that day, so I took the day off to watch. I am SOOOOOO glad I did!

    The difference between today’s team and teams of a few years ago, it seems to me, is that we not only defended with intensity, crucial against Spain, but we also had the ability to score. We were more dangerous than in most previous years — the exception being the 2002 World Cup team with McBride at his peak and Josh Wolff still uninjured and speedy. Altidore is only 19, and unpolished, but even today he is a force to be reckoned with. We do need to find a second dangerous forward; perhaps Davies can develop into that player.

    It seems to me this is the most important victory in the US MNT’s history. The 1-0 win in 1950 against England was by a makeshift team on a terrible field and was before soccer reached the heights of today. The 3-2 win against Portugal in the 2002 WC was almost as big, but Portugal isn’t quite Spain, with its 35 game unbeaten streak, and we got an own goal. The win against Columbia was at home, with a much poorer US team, and needed an own goal. The win against Brazil in the Gold Cup was in a relatively local tourney against a Brazil team trying several younger players out.

    Today’s win, in contrast, was on the world stage, against a full Spanish squad. There was no own goal, with both our goals well deserved — Dempsey being so quick to anticipate the defender would trap the ball, and knocking it into goal almost as the ball was being trapped. Altidore held his defender perfectly, and took a hard and accurate shot. As noted, our defense was almost airtight, unbelievable against a team with Spain’s strengths.

    So I’ll just say it — this is the most important victory in the history of the US WMT — it was against a top foe, without the home field advantage, without an own goal in our favor, featuring excellent defending and midfield play, with well taken goals. It is this game, and no other, which proclaims that the US, on a given day, can beat almost any team in the world.

    That said, we will not be favored against Brazil in the final, and with good reason. But no team can now assume that they will beat the US MNT any more, even if heavily favored.

    May the Force be with the US MNT on Sunday again.

  • Luis Menendez

    C’mon, Mr. Green, you can’t slither away that easily.

    The other day, you mocked Michael Bradley after he said “I told you so !” to all of you soccer “experts” following Team USA’s 3-0 thrashing of Egypt.

    So, be a man about it, take your medicine, admit you were wrong, and stop with the crap about the Confederations Cup being “lightly” regarded.

    Spain sent its “A” team, and Team USA beat them on a neutral field.

    The snobby European schtick is getting stale.
    Unfortunately, you and the aging, out-of-touch Grahame Jones haven’t received the memo.

    Nick replies: What was I “wrong” about exactly, Luis? And BTW, if it takes “mocking” so that the U.S. beats the No. 1-ranked team in the world I’ll gladly do it every time. That’s one way to win a World Cup.

  • Gabriel

    Hey guys! It is great that I have found this blog on the LA times website. I was wondering about how you guys felt about that crushing game on wednesday against the “almighty” Spanish squad.

    I am a great soccer fan, writing to you guys all the way from Brazil. Well, I’ve always had a simpathy for the US men’s national soccer team. And ever since you guys has that astonishing perfomance at the 2002 World Cup, I’ve warning people that the US would sooner or later have a great perfomance at a major tournament.

    And that day has come! Before this Confederations Cup started, I warned some friends that the United States would qualify to the semifinals on second place of the group, instead of Italy. People told me I was crazy, of course. And you guys made an excellent match against Italy on first round, and were beaten only because of that early red card. Against Brazil, all that was planned fell down on that early 5′ goal. And on the third round the team played greatly against a tough Egypcian side. Well, I don’t even have to comment the incredible perfomance against Spain, but I can tell you guys that I saw it coming. All that people said in Brazilian television was that it probably would be an easy game for the spanish sqaud, wich I certainly disagreed. I thougt you guys might lose, but for a close score.

    Well, what I have to say is that I think you guys can make an excellent appearance at next year’s World Cup, since Donovan is at a great moment (he and Kak have played simillarly in this Cup so far) and you have other great players, like Dempsey and Altidore. I try to watch as many matches of the US MNT as I can, even though that is a tough thing to do, since they don’t show the CONCACAF qualifiers on Brazilian TV. But I got to say that Coach Bradley is doing an excellent job, even though I really liked Bruce Arena’s work.

    All I hope is that you guys don’t get screwed like you did on last World Cup draw, when you were put to match Italy, Ghana and Czech Republic on the group stage. I think you can make it like you did in 2002 (oh, that handball!) even though when teams that have never won a World Cup face giants like Italy, Argentina or Brazil, it usually is a lot tougher because of the tradittion.

    Well, I wish you good luck for Sunday’s match, and even tough I have supported you guys so far in this Confederations Cup, now, of course, I will support my mother nation, Brazil. And it certainly won’t be an easy afternoon for us, like it was on that group stage game. I’m almost sure it will be a close score game, despite the Brazilian National Team great moment.

    But no matter what happens, congratulations for you national team, you guys did an excellent job on this really tough competition, where we were looking to face Italy or Spain in the final round. Remember, this is the second most important FIFA competition, wich gathers all the Champions of the Continents, and you guys made it to the final.

    Congratulations, and see you on Sunday!