Landon Donovan, right, and fellow team members celebrate their victory over Spain.
Antonio Calanni/Associated Press
via The New York Times.
The United States shocked the soccer world with a famous 2-0 victory against Spain in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup.
Playing in the Free State Stadium at Manguang/Bloemfontein, the US squad came in heavy underdogs against a squad that had won a world-record 15 matches in a row and had tied the world record for most games unbeaten at 35.
The US will face the winner of the next semifinal between Brazil and host South Africa.
Here were my live-blog observations of the fixture, with a handy roster tool from FIFA.
Vicente DEL BOSQUE (ESP)
(USA) Bob BRADLEY
- Referee: Jorge LARRIONDA (URU)
- Assistant Referee 1: Pablo FANDINO (URU)
- Assistant Referee 2: Mauricio ESPINOSA (URU)
- Fourth official: Coffi CODJIA (BEN)
- FOF: Alexis FASSINOU (BEN)
And we’re underway.
1: Riera makes a run down the left flank and centers, but Onyewu clears.
2: Spain controlling the tempo and the ball. Donovan challenges Ramos and Spain is awarded a freekick. Fabregas receives the free kick and tries to cross, but it’s deflected over the net. Villa fouls on the resulting free kick.
3: Altidore sprints into the left side of the box. He tries to center but Puyol deflects out for the corner. Donovan’s cross is cleared.
5: Davies has a chance on a through ball, but Casillas comes well out of the box to clear. Donovan then slides for the ball and trips Xabi Alonso. Donovan, perhaps harshly, gets a yellow card.
6: Donovan heads down the left flank and tries to lead Davies, but Casillas manages to gather and kick away. Davies looks lively and has good speed to pressure the Spain D.
7: U.S. work the ball, Dempsey centers from the right flank to Davies, who tries an outrageous bicycle kick. Excellent technique, but the shot is wide. That would have been a spectacular goal.
8: U.S. is putting good pressure, not letting Spain control the ball. Donovan makes a neat turn on the left but is crowded out. Puyol’s clearance hits Bocanegra, who sends a cross in, but it’s too high for Davies.
9: What an effort by Dempsey! From outside the box, he drives the ball low and hard, but it skims past Casillas’ right post. This is a phenomenal start for the U.S.
10: Spain is beginning to string along passes, trying to kill the U.S. momentum. Villa passes to Fabregas who tries a speculative dipping shot. A few more yards out and that might have gone in.
11: U.S. tries to counterattack after Spain give up possession, but it leads to nothing. Riera eventually takes the ball and passes to Fabregas. He crosses for Torres, who has the far post wide open! But the Liverpool striker can only shank it wide.
12: What a fast-paced, wide open match this has been so far. So much so that Spain has had to slow down play and become more deliberate in their possession.
18: Torres makes a nifty turn but was judged to be offside.
20: Villa makes a nice, mazy run against Spector and tries to center, but it’s kicked out.
21: U.S. going for a counterattack, with Donovan going up 30 yards before firing a 25 yard strike that goes wide.
27: GOAL USA! Jozy Altidore scores!!! What a start for the U.S.! Davies was playing out wide left and passed to Dempsey in the middle. The ball got deflected from Dempsey and fell to Altidore, who made a sharp turn to hold off Capdevilla. Altidore then shot low and Casillas could not keep the shot out. The 19-year-old made his Villareal teammate and first-teamer look slow there.
29: Riera trips up Dempsey for a free kick. Donovan goes down the right flank and passes to Spector, who launches what looks like a shot, well wide and high.
31: Spain playing some pretty passing. Ramos out wide boots a cross to Villa at the far hand post. Villa controls beautifully and shoots, but it’s deflected off Spector. Spain work the ball back to Ramos out wide on the right. But his next cross is deflected for a corner. The cross amounts to nothing.
32: What a chance for Villa! Xabi’s shot deflects towards Villa’s feet. Villa gathers to shoot, but his shot ls wide and high.
36: Donovan sends in a cross and Dempsey gets a head on it, but he can’t direct it towards goal.
38: Riera makes a run towards the middle but is crowded out. The U.S. have done an excellent job of closing in on Spain’s dangerous attackers in the final third. Spain back in possession – Xabi Alonso passed to Villa, who goes to Fabregas, who finds Torres in the middle of the penalty box! But the U.S. scramble to get the ball away for a corner. The resulting corner leads to a goal kick.
40: Donovan looks to latch on to a through ball, but is called offside. A very close call. The U.S. were doing a good job of keeping possession up to that point.
41: Xabi Alonso trips up Altidore, allowing the U.S. to catch their breath.
42: Spain is awarded a free kick and Villa tries to get a kick off quickly, pushing Donovan over in the process. With Donovan elaborating on the slight shove, the U.S. have time to get set. Xavi’s ball is cut off by Donovan. Xavi gets the ball back and slots a through ball through for a sprinting Villa on the right side, who cuts a pass back to Sergio Ramos, but the U.S. deflect the ball out for a corner. The resulting corner doesn’t amount to much.
44: Both teams are getting feisty with the ball. Spain is applying more and more gradual pressure. Pique goes to Torres on the right flank and El Nino makes Bocanegra look silly by cutting back towards the middle and shooting with his left foot. Howard gets low and makes a good save.
HALFTIME: U.S. have a lead through Altidore’s goal in a great first half for the U.S. Spain has started applying more and more gradual pressure, straining the U.S. back four and Howard. We’ll have to see if the U.S. can withstand the pressure.
David Villa just fired a swerving shot, but Howard was more than up to it, deflecting it with a strong left hand.
49: A good through ball meant for Villa, but Howard is able to collect.
50: Xabi Alonso chips to Ramos on the right, who crosses long, but the cross goes too far and the U.S. clears. Alonso gains possession and chips again to Ramos. Ramos tries to cut back inside the U.S. defense, but the U.S. recovers and clears.
51: Xavi finds some space and attempts a long range shot, but its deflected for a corner. Spain try to play it short on the following corner, but the U.S. manages to clear.
52: Riera makes a nice move against Spector and tries to cross, but Spector deflects the ball out of bounds. The resulting corner comes to Villa, who deflects it upward and tries a swinging shot, but Howard saves.
53: Dempsey elaborates on contact from Xabi Alonso, allowing the U.S. to regroup after considerable Spain pressure. Donovan gains possession and sends Davies through on the right flank, but Davies cross is to no one in particular at the back post.
54: Spain is back on the attack. Xavi crosses to Torres, who lets the ball go to Villa, who passes back to Fabregas who then tries to chip for Xavi. Xavi falls after a brush with Donovan, but the umpire refuses to give a penalty on such minimal contact.
55: Riera cuts back towards the middle across Spector and tries a fierce right-footed shot towards the near post, but it goes wide. Howard had it covered.
56: Xavi passes to Fabregas who passes to Ramos on the right. The ball takes a U.S. deflection, but Villa collects on the edge of the box and lets loose. Howard gathers comfortably. Still, Spain is applying more and more pressure.
57: The U.S. win a corner. Donovan sends it in, Spain deflect it outside the penalty box, and Clark tries a volley from well out. It goes up into the stands.
58: Spain is starting to string pases along, trying to wear out the U.S. midfield and defense. The ball pings around from Xavi to Fabregas, then to Ramos, who has been instrumental with providing support on the right flank. Speaking of instrumental, Onyewu gets a head on Ramos’ cross. Spain get the ball back but the U.S. steal and attempt a counterattack.
60: Another Ramos’ cross leads to a deflection and corner. Spain again play it short, Xavi to Villa and then back to Xavi.
61: Spain play some lovely one-touch football until Villa tries a curvy effort from outside the box that goes wide. On the other end of the pitch, Altidore holds off Puyol in the box, but can’t get a good shot off.
62: The U.S. play some of their own one-touch football, but both U.S. strikers looked offside on a through ball from Dempsey.
63: Good cut out by Spector on a pass meant for Riera on the left. A cross by Ramos is deflected, and Riera has a chance to volley it, but the U.S. slides in.
64: Spain with a long-range shot, but Howard gets low to save. Spain applying all sorts of pressure, Fabregas passes outside Ramos on the right, who launches a shot, but Howard has his near-post covered.
65: Davies launches a counterattack, but he is double teamed. On the other end, Torres has a chance to shoot, but has no fewer than 3 white shirts around him. Riera gets the ball and crosses to Ramos, who shoots from inside the penalty box. The U.S. midfielder Clark makes a full stretching slide to deflect the ball. Dempsey embellishes a fall so the U.S. can its collective breath.
67: Altidore makes a run on a long ball, but Casillas collects. The U.S. definitely needs to apply more pressure or may tire from Spain’s possession game. Riera passes along to Fabregas, who stutters before crossing. The U.S. heads the ball out of danger.
68: Santi Cazorla comes in for Fabregas, and will likely provide more width.
69: The always menacing Torres makes a run on the left, but the U.S. control the cross. Feilhaber will come in for Davies, likely to give the U.S. more of a 1-1-4-4 for a shot at more possession. Dempsey moves forward.
70: Riera fires to Torres, who almost controlled the ball while leaping in the air.
71: Clark’s over the top ball finds Dempsey, who passes back to Clark. Clark fires a shot outside the box, but it’s deflected.
72: Feilhaber runs right at Ramos. The fresh legs should help.
73 Demerit helps scramble away a cross from Riera that was meant for Torres.
74: GOALLLLLL! The U.S. is in control! Feilhaber cuts back towards the middle and passes outside on the right flank to Donovan. Donovan had a chance to shoot, but instead played a low, rollingInstead of shooting, cuts the ball back to the middle. The ball gets some fortuitous deflections to Dempsey, who slides the ball past a scrambling Casillas. Wow. Both Pique and Ramos touched that Donovan cross, yet its Dempsey who gets the shot in. Not the prettiest goal, but the U.S. will take it.
76: Clark sends a cross in but Casillas gathers. I would think the U.S. wants to hold the ball more and ease the pressure Spain is applying. On the other end, Ramos sends in his 1,000th cross. Torres controls on his chest, but Spector clears. Free kick for the U.S. for a tug on Spector by Torres.
78: Mata will come in for Riera. Spain start to pass with a lot more urgency. Mata’s cross on the left is deflected out. The cross is taken short and comes to Cazorla in the middle. Feilhaber commits the foul.
79: Spain has all sorts of players who can shoot. Villa takes the free kick, but it’s right at Howard. But Spain get the ball back! Mata on the left fires a cross, but Spector’s head deflects it. The corner is taken short and the cross is sent through but Spain can only get a glance on it.
80: The U.S. trying desperately to keep possession, but Spain is hurrying their opponents. Mata looks lively on the left side, and slides a centering pass for Xabi Alonso, who fires a hard volley straight at Howard, who punches away. M
82 Mata, Cazorla, Xavi, Capdevilla out wide, but the U.S. deflect. Everything’s happening on the U.S. side of the field. Altidore holds the ball up on the left side. Nice move by Feilhaber, but his pass is to an offside Altidore…which looks like a horrendous call.
83: Mata’s passes to a sprinting Capdevilla on the left flank, who cuts back but the ball falls to Spector who clears.
84: Conor Casey comes in for Altidore. It looks like Dempsey will play as a lone striker.
85: Mata’s cross aims for Spain, but Onweyu clears. Spain send a corner short…Spain get another corner after a scramble. Spain knocking the ball around, the U.S. briefly get possession but Spain get it right back.
86: Casey gets his first touch…Casey looked to latch onto a long pass, but he’s deemed offside. That is a straight up terrible call. Two Spain defenders were playing him onside.
87: Bradley receives a red card! Unbelievable. He’s clearly going for the ball there. There was contact, but it’s not like his studs were up.
87: Mata’s cross comes to Puyol who has a close range shot but it’s deflected out. Spain maintain possession off the cross and try to stretch the U.S. squad with 10 men.
88: Bornstein comes in for Dempsey to shore up the midfield.
89: Donovan elaborates on contact from Villa. Pique gets carded for dissent. The U.S. is seconds away from arguably its most famous victory.
90: Casey tries to trap the door into the corner, but Spain manage to get the ball out. Spain have 3 minutes of stoppage time.
91: Mata on the left plays a one-two with Villa in the box, but Howard collects on the return pass.
92: Mata sends another ball in, but Oyenwu clears easily. Xavi sends a ball in but Onyewu gets a head in. Spain trying desperately to crack open the U.S. defense. Villa gets the ball on the left, but his shot goes well wide. Just seconds to go now.
That’s it!!! The U.S. have defeated the #1 team in the world! Spain’s win streak ends at 15 and unbeaten streak at 35. Unbelievable. The loss of Michael Bradley for Sunday’s final will hurt, but the U.S. must be proud of a famous victory nonetheless. Their opponent will be determined tomorrow when Brazil and the tournament hosts South Africa square off. Can Bafana Bafana pull off another upset? We shall see.
Some quotes from Coach Bob Bradley after the match:
“Yeah it’s exiciting, it was a great team effort. To beat a great team like Spain, it’s great.”
“The final…we take a few hours to regroup, but we’ll be ready, we are so excited about this.”
Some famous victories, from ESPN coverage:
1950 USA beats England
1994 USA beats Colombia
1998 USA beats Brazil
2002 USA beats Portugal
2002 USA beats Mexico