June 29, 2009

Brazil sets things right

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey, Soccer

Since the NHL draft was about as exciting as watching grass grow and the biggest deal involved a player that will be a free agent on Wednesday, well, is it really worth mentioning in any more depth than this paragraph? The answer is a resounding “No.”

There was an event that managed to pique my interest yesterday and, in fairness, it didn’t just draw my eye fleetingly, it drew me in a 90-minute ride. The match was the Confederations Cup final and, for a match between the USA and Brazil, it was shockingly close.

For a while there, I actually thought that the US had a shot at taking home the Confederation Cup. Up by two at the half, with a solid defence, a rattled opponent and goaltender Tim Howard looking as great as he did against Spain, why would I bet against the Americans? The potential for two stunning upsets in a row — two of the biggest soccer wins in American history — was all there, but as we found out in the second half, the execution wasn’t.

After looking sloppy and uninterested in the first half, Brazil showed what they can really do in the second 45. Their “beautiful game,” was just that. Kaka showed how great of a play-maker he can be, Luis Fabiano showed that he could be the next great Brazilian striker and the US showed that they just didn’t have any answers for an attack that sublime.

The United States will get a lot of credit for first beating Spain to get to the final and then keeping in tough against Brazil and rightfully so. They’ll probably be one of those teams-that-nobody-wants-in-their-group types when it comes to drawing for 2010. But that’s still a while away and even though they’ll most likely make the World Cup, there is still some qualifiers left.

But, looking ahead, If the States can pull off an upset or two at next year’s World Cup, maybe they’ll finally instill some footballers’ spirit in the youth of North America — something that is sorely lacking.

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