Major League Soccer will institute a two-week break during the group states of the FIFA World Cup next summer.

Between June 10 and June 25, no MLS fixtures will be played. MLS also will not play matches during the World Cup semifinals and championship match.

There are no qualifiers yet for the 2010 FIFA World Cup from CONCACAF, the regional leading body made up of North American, Central American and Caribbean nations.

Out of the six nations left in contention, the top three will advance automatically to South Africa, while the fourth place team faces a playoff against the fifth place team in the South American region.

These are the standings:

USA USA 8 5 1 2 14 9 16
Mexico Mexico 8 5 0 3 12 9 15
Honduras Honduras 8 4 1 3 14 8 13
Costa Rica Costa Rica 8 4 0 4 9 13 12
El Salvador El Salvador 8 2 2 4 8 10 8
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago 8 1 2 5 8 16 5

These are the remaining fixtures:

Fixtures
10/10/09 TBA Honduras Honduras USA USA
10/10/09 TBA Mexico Mexico El Salvador El Salvador
10/10/09 20:00 San Jose Costa Rica Costa Rica Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago
14/10/09 TBA El Salvador El Salvador Honduras Honduras
14/10/09 TBA Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago Mexico Mexico
14/10/09 TBA USA USA Costa Rica Costa Rica

The United States team will earn one of the top four places and so will stay in contention for a World Cup place after the October fixtures. The worst the U.S. could do would be to lose both fixtures and end up in fourth, facing a playoff against a South American squad. The U.S. would likely automatically qualify as long as it earns a point against either Honduras or Costa Rica.

Except for Trinidad & Tobago, all the squads still have a chance at automatic qualification, so next month’s fixture should provide plenty of excitement.

Spain and England qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday through straightforward victories in the latest round of qualifiers.

The Three Lions earned some revenge with a 5-1 dismissal of Croatia at Wembley Stadium. Croatia eliminated England from Euro 2008, paving the way for Fabio Capello to become England’s national manager. Capello may have solved of Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard both had braces, while striker Wayne Rooney also found the net.

La Furia Roja eased its way past Estonia 3-0 at the Estadio Romano Jose Fouto. Spain opened the scoring when Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas played a neat one-two with Valencia’s David Silva before slotting past goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko. Substitute Santi Cazorla and Juan Mata also netted goals.

FIFA lists the teams that have already qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Results:

09/09/09 15:00 La Paz Bolivia Bolivia 1:3 (0:1) Ecuador Ecuador
09/09/09 15:30 Yaounde Cameroon Cameroon 2:1 (1:0) Gabon Gabon
09/09/09 17:15 Toftir Faroe Islands Faroe Islands 2:1 (2:1) Lithuania Lithuania
09/09/09 17:20 Uherske Hradiste Czech Republic Czech Republic 7:0 (3:0) San Marino San Marino
09/09/09 18:00 Montevideo Uruguay Uruguay 3:1 (1:0) Colombia Colombia
09/09/09 18:30 Ta’Qali Malta Malta 0:1 (0:0) Sweden Sweden
09/09/09 19:00 Asuncion Paraguay Paraguay 1:0 (1:0) Argentina Argentina
09/09/09 19:00 San Salvador El Salvador El Salvador 1:0 (1:0) Costa Rica Costa Rica
09/09/09 19:11 Port Of Spain Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago 0:1 (0:0) USA USA
09/09/09 19:30 Vaduz Liechtenstein Liechtenstein 1:1 (0:0) Finland Finland
09/09/09 19:30 Glasgow Scotland Scotland 0:1 (0:0) Netherlands Netherlands
09/09/09 19:45 Belfast Northern Ireland Northern Ireland 0:2 (0:1) Slovakia Slovakia
09/09/09 19:45 Cardiff Wales Wales 1:3 (0:1) Russia Russia
09/09/09 20:00 Zenica Bosnia-Herzegovina Bosnia-Herzegovina 1:1 (1:1) Turkey Turkey
09/09/09 20:00 London England England 5:1 (2:0) Croatia Croatia
09/09/09 20:00 Andorra La Vella Andorra Andorra 1:3 (0:3) Kazakhstan Kazakhstan
09/09/09 20:00 Minsk Belarus Belarus 0:0 Ukraine Ukraine
09/09/09 20:00 Mexico City Mexico Mexico 1:0 (0:0) Honduras Honduras
09/09/09 20:15 Podgorica Montenegro Montenegro 1:1 (0:0) Cyprus Cyprus
09/09/09 20:30 Puerto La Cruz Venezuela Venezuela 3:1 (1:1) Peru Peru
09/09/09 20:30 Tirana Albania Albania 1:1 (0:1) Denmark Denmark
09/09/09 20:30 Oslo Norway Norway 2:1 (2:0) FYR Macedonia FYR Macedonia
09/09/09 20:45 Budapest Hungary Hungary 0:1 (0:1) Portugal Portugal
09/09/09 20:45 Maribor Slovenia Slovenia 3:0 (2:0) Poland Poland
09/09/09 20:45 Hanover Germany Germany 4:0 (1:0) Azerbaijan Azerbaijan
09/09/09 20:45 Bucharest Romania Romania 1:1 (0:0) Austria Austria
09/09/09 20:50 Turin Italy Italy 2:0 (2:0) Bulgaria Bulgaria
09/09/09 21:00 Ramat Gan Israel Israel 7:0 (4:0) Luxembourg Luxembourg
09/09/09 21:00 Yerevan Armenia Armenia 2:1 (1:0) Belgium Belgium
09/09/09 21:00 Belgrade Serbia Serbia 1:1 (1:1) France France
09/09/09 21:30 Riga Latvia Latvia 2:2 (0:1) Switzerland Switzerland
09/09/09 21:30 Chisinau Moldova Moldova 1:1 (0:1) Greece Greece
09/09/09 22:00 Salvador De Bahia Brazil Brazil 4:2 (2:1) Chile Chile
09/09/09 22:00 Merida Spain Spain 3:0 (1:0) Estonia Estonia
09/09/09 22:15 Riyadh Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 2:2 (1:1) Bahrain Bahrain

Welcome to coverage of South Africa 2010.
The teams are out on the field, with South Africa president Jacob Zuma and FIFA president Sepp Blatter shaking hands with both teams. Blatter greets Landon Donovan with a kiss on the cheek, apparently they are familiar with each other.

Blatter also being convivial with Zuma. I wonder if I would shake Zuma’s hand?

The Star-Spangled Banner is now playing.
Now the Brazil anthem. Hino Nacional Brasileiro

The teams now shake hands with Brazil captain Lucio leading the way.

The ESPN ticker shows the standings for CONCACAF qualifying, with Costa Rica on top followed by the U.S.

U.S. (4-2-2-2)
Howard,
Bocanegra, Onyewu, Demerit, Spector
Clark, Feilhaber
Donovan, Dempsey
Davies, Altidore

Brazil (4-3-2-1)
Cesar,
Maicon, Lucio, Luisao, Andre Santos
Ramires, Gilberto, Felipe Melo,
Robinho, Kaka
Luis Fabiano

We are under way in Johannesburg!
Brazil stroke the ball around the pitch. Brazil right back Maicon sends in a cross, but U.S. cuts it off. Now the U.S. takes some possession. Feilhaber tries to spread it wide but it’s deflected to Altidore, who passes on to Dempsey. From outside the penalty box, he shoots wide.
4 Howard cuts out a searching through ball meant for Luis Fabiano
5 Brazil stroking the ball round, Maicon finds Kaka, Onyewu kicks it out. Gilberto Silva takes the throw in, passes a good ball to Maicon out wide, and the U.S. is forced to concede a corner.
6 Altidore heads the corner out. Maicon sends in another cross, but Onyewu heads it straight back to the right back. Maicon then hits another cross, Dempsey at the far post kicks it out.
7 Robinho takes the corner on Brazil’s left side. Kaka at the near post heads wide.
8 Santos sends a ball back to the Brazilan fullbacks, Lucio has to scramble back amidst good U.S. pressure. But Brazil being Brazil kick the ball around. Maicon crosses but Spector clears. A speculative effort from Fabiano blazes a speculative 30-yard effort high.
10 GOALLLLLLLL US! Totally against the run of play!!!! Spector from the right launches a cross and Dempsey nudges the ball towards the far post. Julio Cesar had no chance, what a clever touch by Dempsey. That’s 3 goals in 3 matches for him now. As for the cross from the right back Spector, what a beautifully sent ball.
11 According to ESPN, that’s the first time Brazil has trailed in the tournament. How will Brazil react?
12 Altidore fouls Santos. Brazil like to go down that right flank with Maicon acting as another winger.
13 Kaka finds Robinho in all kinds of space out on the left! He tries to curl one towards the far post, but Howard gets down well. Maicon sends in the corner, but the U.S. deflect out. Donovan scrambles to keep the ball in and finds a sprinting Davies! But 2 Brazil defenders crowd him out and concede the corner.
14 Donovan’s s corner goes out for another corner. Onyewu at the far side heads back towards the center, there’s a scramble in front of the net before Altidore sprays it high.
15 Maicon crosses, Onyewu heads out. It comes to Kaka on the left, whose shot is deflected and collected by the U.S.
16 Unlike the group stage, the U.S. looks enthusiastic and up for the fixture this time.
17 Dempsey tries to draw a foul and a free kick, but Brazil play on. U.S. forwards doing a good job on closing in on the ball, putting pressure on Brazil
18 Altidore draws the foul and the free kick. About 30 yards out on the right. Donovan sends it in, Lucio gets a head to it. Feilhaber eventually collects but is held up by Ramirez.
19 Kaka gets the ball and is blatantly held by Bocanegra. Bocanegra gets the yellow card. With Brazil in possession, Donovan helps close out the pacey Maicon on the right flank.
20 Melo to Gilberto to Maicon to Ramirez to Santos. Shot blocked at the edge of the box.
Gilberto to Ramirez, who floats a cross but it goes out for a goal kick. Brazil have plety of possession but can’t find the way through.
21Robinho beats Spector to afree ball and sends in across but Onyewu was alert with the header.
22 Kaka on the run, Feilhaber with a beautiful slide tackle to halt the attack. After a few Brazil passes, Feilhaber comes up with another tackle, this time on Ramirez. Feilhaber, in for the suspended Michael Bradley, is single handedly disrupting the Selecao’s attack.
23 Robinho teases Spector before trying a one-two with Kaka, but the pass is too far and Spector had it covered.
24 Fabiano almost latched on to a ball from Kaka after Demerit missed deflecting the pass, but Spector was there for backup and cannoned a clearance.
25 Maicon with another cross, Onyewu and Demerit both miss a chance to clear, but Robinho’s shot hits off Demerit and the U.S. clears.
Kaka contros well and passes to Melo who blazes a low shot to Howards’ right. Howard punches away before the ref whistles for a foul and cards Melo for dissent.
26 Maicon on the right flank passes to Kaka, who cleverly backheels to Maicon. The right back’s shot can’t beat Howard at the near post though.
27 GOALLLLL U.S.! Corner is handled well by the U.S. Donovan launches a counterattack and plays a brilliant one-two with Davies! Donovan then skips inside Ramires and slots a left-footed finish towards past Cesar. What a quality goal that was. The U.S. was content to absorb pressure and then launched a world-class counterattack.
29 Kaka tries a shot but it deflects off a teammate. How in the world will Brazil handle this? So far they’ve had plenty of possession but have lacked the killer touch. Meanwhile, the U.S. has taken advantage of their opportunities.
30 Donovan on the left, sends a cross in, but strangely neither U.S. striker latch onto it despite being in plenty of space. Huh?
31 Some feisty battles for the ball. U.S now has the majority of possession, ironically after scoring both goals. When they’re not having the ball, they are executing crisp, crunching tackles.
33 Gilberto Silva has a shot deflected by Dempsey.
34 Robinho on the left flank teases Spector, finds Santos on a great run into the box! But Howard shuts out Santos’ near corner shot and concedes the corner.
35 On the corner, Robinho plays it short to Santos, Santos’ cross is dead on, but Fabiano’s header is over the crossbar. That was a good chance for the Selecao, who seem to be waking up from their slumber.
36 Altidore controlled well down the right flank and drew the foul on Andre Santos in a dangerous spot.
37 Donovan with the free kick, Brazil concede the corner.
Donovan’s corner is collected easily by Cesar. Brazil launches their counterattack, and Fabiano is brought down by the tracking Donovan, 30-yards away from the left handed post of the U.S. goal.
39 Kaka to Melo to Maicon for a cross. U.S. deflects. It comes to Davies who tries to come forward but Brazil track back and Davies loses out. On the other end, Fabiano latches on to a ball but is deemed offside.
40 Spector with a cross, Lucio clears. Spector battles with Kaka for a ball on the left and has the step and the speed to close out. Feilhaber is fouled.
41 Robinho on the left fires a shot from a tight angle, but Howard was up for it. Robinho’s short corner goes to Santos, but his cross comes to nothing.
42 Robinho teases Spector, Dempsey helps out. As Robinho cuts inside, Feilhaber dispossesses him. Gilberto gets the ball and tries to send it in. Tenacious defense by the U.S.
43 Robinho runs at Spector and cuts back. Melo spreads the ball to Maicon, who tries a speculative effort from the right side of the penalty box but it’s splayed wide.
44 Brazil on a counterattack but Onyewu cuts it off. Robinho on Spector tries to find Kaka but the U.S. clear.
45 Kaka’s shot is deflected, Felipe Melo tries to follow up, but Onyewu flicks it out for a corner.
46 Robinho sends it in, it’s headed straight up and Howard collects. There were all white shirts in the middle of that pile, save for Howard’s neon green.
Last gasp for Brazil for the half. Maicon latches on to the ball! Bocanegra’s leg deflects the cross, which takes it away from the looming Fabiano. That preserves an all-important two goal lead.

Half time! What an effort by the U.S. They have thoroughly outplayed and outhustled Brazil. Brazil have had the majority of possession, but the U.S. have played the counterattack to perfection and deserve the lead. I would bet Brazil begin going to the left more with Robinho’s pace and trickery and try some link up play with Kaka and Santos. Maicon also poses a threat, but if he moves forward, Donovan is free to counterattack. I bet Dunga comes in with Dani Alves for more attacking power. 45 long minutes to go before a world-famous victory and a first FIFA championship for the U.S.

Second half begins

47 GOALLL Brazil! Maicon to Ramirez back to Macion, who passes up to Luis Fabiano. He takes a neat turn on Demerit and shoots down low to beat Howard. Perfect start to the second half for Brazil.
48 Kaka is crowded out, but Brazil look lively.
49 Spector called on a foul for impeding Robinho. Maicon to Kaka, but Onyewu clears. Altidore to Donovan, Donovan’s ball deflects long almost to Atidore but Luisao clears. Feilhaber sprints down the left side and tries to pull it back for Davies, but keeper Julio Cesar was ready.
50 Dempsey to Donovan, who tried to chip Davies into the open, but Brazil defend well.
51 The U.S. has to be careful of not opening up too much because Brazil looks ready to motor down the pitch at the blink of an eye.
53 Maicon found Luis Fabiano, who flicked on to Ramires, but Howard collected. On the other side, what a poor counterattack by the U.S. Davies had two men coming with him, but he came inside and tried to find the trailing Dempsey. A pass to the sprinting Donovan probably would have provided a better opportunity.
54 Kaka drew the foul on Feilhaber, Maicon’s free kick is headed out by Altidore. A searching ball for Fabiano goes out of play.
55 Kaka controlled a high ball beautifully and almost sent Robinho through, but Howard was able to collect. The ref brought the ball back for an earlier U.S. foul. The free kick went low, and there was a scramble, before Felipe Melo was called for the foul.
56 The U.S. with some extended possession.
58 Santos on the left passes to Kaka, who teases Spector before the right back slides in and knocks the ball out for a corner. The corner results in a free header for Lucio, but Howard comes up with a tremendous save! Gilberto Silva sends the rebound sky high! What a chance for the Selecao!
59 Santos tries to find someone out wide to the left, but Spector is more than up to the task.
60 Robinho on the left with Santos, Santos sends in a beautiful cross to Kaka on the far post! Kaka’s header is deflected out by Howard…but I don’t know, Howard was in the goal when he made the deflection! The entire ball must be inside the goal…that play will be scrutinized to no end. The replay looks like the ball was in! What a break for the U.S.
63 Kaka’s cross is sent out for a corner by a diving Onyewu. Maicon’s corner is punched out by Howard. The ball finds its way to Maicon, who spins a dangerous cross to Lucio at the far post, but the ref deems him offside.
64 Brazil is marching up the pitch in numbers, but Robinho’s cross is sprayed out by a U.S. defender. Maicon’ has another go at a cross, but Onyewu heads it off. All Brazil at the moment.
65 Now the U.S. gets some decent possession. Donovan tries a curving shot from outside the box, and Julio Cesar can only punch it wide.
66 Dempsey takes a great left-footed shot! Great interchange between Dempsey and it look liked Davies to set up the shot that was saved.
Andre Santos comes out, the always dangerous Dani Alves comes in. Ramirez comes out for Elano.
67 Donovan’s corner is well-headed by Brazil. Elano’s first ball is a searching one across the pitch to Dani Alves on the left flank, but Alves’ shins knock it out for a goal kick.
68 Fabiano and Demerit go up for a ball, and the ref calls the foul on Fabiano.
69 Wondering when the U.S. will bring in a sub, you have to worry about energy and stamina at this point in the game. Brazil spreading it out wide. Kaka takes on Dempsey and falls a bit too easily, looking for the foul.
70 Lucio, the Brazil captain, gets carded for dissent. Demerit sends the ball up. A scathing counterattack by Brazil, with Elano sending the ball in from the right, but the U.S. defend well.
71 A brilliant through ball by Elano! Fabiano is one-on-one but Howard scrambles for the save of the match. Onyewu was playing Fabiano onside.
72 Maicon’s cross is headed out by Demerit. Dani Alves’ shot is blasted high over the goal.
Davies latched onto the ball and almost took on 3 Brazil defenders! Luisao slides in, otherwise it would have been one-on-one with Julio Cesar.
73 On the other end, Felipe Melo shoots wide. The U.S. is setting up for a sub. Dempsey sends a ball to Davies out on the right flank, but Brazil is up for it.
74 GOALLLLLL Brazil! Kaka takes on Spector and sends in a cross, which Robinho cannons off the crossbar! Fabiano reacts first with the header and the game is tied!
75 Kljestan comes in for Altidore, Borstein comes in for Feilhaber. Looks like Kljestan will slot in for Feilhaber, Borstein will come in on the left. Does that mean Dempsey moves up?
78 Kaka chests the ball down and tries a 30-yarder to no avail.
79 Donovan’s free kick from a foul by Felipe Melo is collected by Julio Cesar amidst white shirts. Brazil collect and proceed to knock the ball around. Robinho and Kaka interchange passes before Kaka tries to send Dani Alves through, but his pass is too weighted and goes out.
80 Borstein tries a left-footed, off balance shot, but he had some space available.
81 Robinho sends Kaka in on the left flank, who tries to skip past Spector, but Spector gets a foot in. Robinho collects outside the box and twirls with a shot, but it’s high and wide.
83 Fabiano on the left, Bocanegra heads out the cross. US, which has resorted to just absorbing the pressure, will have to be careful.
84 GOAAAAAAAAALLLL Brazil! Some tenacious play by Demerit to keep Fabiano at bay, then Elano is shut down. but the U.S. concedes a corner. Lucio heads Elano’s far-post corner against the post and in. A free header for the Brazil captain, who took it so well.
86 Is there a way back for the U.S.? They now have to shift away from absorbing pressure and must compel themselves to move forward.
87 Great tackle by Clark on Kaka. Dempsey collects and passes out to Davies, who tries to find Donovan, but the pass goes out for the corner.
88 Conor Casey comes in for Ricardo Clark, hopefully to bring in some attacking power. Onyewu gets above everyone but his header goes over the crossbar!
89 Robinho on the left flank, Kaka with a curler towards the far post, but it began well wide and it finished almost as wide.
91 3 minutes of extra time signaled. Julio Cesar collects a ball dent downfield from Howard.
92 Brazil is running the U.S. ragged with their passing. We might be seeing this a minute later with the same interchange of passing. Except Dani Alves tries a bomb from 30 yards and sends it out to the seats.

The final whistle! Brazil show its quality and hold off a spirited effort by the U.S. People will say the U.S. can hold their heads up high, but the U.S. had a chance to win and it will be disappointing to finish runners-up to say the least. If the squad can learn how to play ahead, the U.S. will be a force to reckon with in international football. They can take this experience with them as they go forward in CONCACAF qualifying.

As for Brazil, it looks like Dunga will have some much needed momentum going forward. His squad, a mix of youth and experience, proved to be worthy of being Confederation Cup champions. Elano proved to be a useful substitute, with some precise passing and the corner kick that resulted in the game-winner. I don’t think anyone thinks this is the Selecao’s best, but this squad showed enough heart to win. How will Dunga adjust before next year’s World Cup?

Overall, you have to label the Confederations Cup a stirring success. It provided some quality football from a couple of World Cup favorites and some stirring efforts from international underdogs, including the U.S. and hosts South Africa. Undoubtedly, the Confederations Cup has whetted the appetites of football fans everywhere for the 2010 World Cup.

Golden Ball winner (Tournament’s Most Valuable Player) – Kaka
Golden Boot winner (Tournament’s Best scorer) – Luis Fabiano, Brazil, 5 goals
Silver Boot – David Villa, Spain, 3 goals
Bronze Boot – Clint Dempsey, U.S., 3 goals
Golden Gloves (Best goalkeeper) – Tim Howard

Brazil defeated a game South Africa squad 1-0 in the second Confederations Cup semifinal.

Barcelona wing back Dani Alves set up from just outside the penalty box and curled a brilliant free kick into the far netting for the clinching goal.

For the Sunday final, the Selecao will face the U.S.A. , a surprise finalist who beat top-ranked Spain in the first semifinal.

Hosts Bafana Bafana will face Spain on Saturday.

U.S. celebrates victory over Spain
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.

Line-up

ESP
USA
Substitute(s)
Coaches
Vicente DEL BOSQUE (ESP)
(USA) Bob BRADLEY
Officials
  • 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)

Live observations:
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.

SECOND HALF
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

How things stand after day two of the Confederations Cup:

Group A
Match Date – Time Venue Results
1 14/06 16:00 Johannesburg South Africa South Africa 0:0 Iraq Iraq
2 14/06 20:30 Rustenburg New Zealand New Zealand 0:5 (0:4) Spain Spain
5 17/06 16:00 Mangaung/Bloemfontein Spain Spain Iraq Iraq
6 17/06 20:30 Rustenburg South Africa South Africa New Zealand New Zealand
9 20/06 20:30 Johannesburg Iraq Iraq New Zealand New Zealand
10 20/06 20:30 Mangaung/Bloemfontein Spain Spain South Africa South Africa
Group B
Match Date – Time Venue Results
3 15/06 16:00 Mangaung/Bloemfontein Brazil Brazil 4:3 (3:1) Egypt Egypt
4 15/06 20:30 Tshwane/Pretoria USA USA 1:3 (1:0) Italy Italy
7 18/06 16:00 Tshwane/Pretoria USA USA Brazil Brazil
8 18/06 20:30 Johannesburg Egypt Egypt Italy Italy
11 21/06 20:30 Tshwane/Pretoria Italy Italy Brazil Brazil
12 21/06 20:30 Rustenburg Egypt Egypt USA USA

Spain, namely Fernando Torres, looked convincing in the 5-0 trouncing against New Zealand. Torres scored a hat trick, while Cesc Fabregas and David Villa also got on the scoresheet. The entire team’s passing and shooting were so precise, it was as if they were wearing surgical masks and wielding scalpels. The Spanish squad is in form and in such high morale, you get the sense they truly enjoy playing with each other. They are brimming with collective spirit.

As for the United States, I suppose Bob Bradley’s team can hold their collective heads up high. Ricardo Clark’s untimely tackle on Gennaro Gattuso in the first half resulted in a straightaway red card and dismissal. The decision seemed harsh, and put the U.S. squad at a disadvantage for two-thirds of the match. Jozy Altidore did well to draw a penalty and Landon Donovan showed his composure by wrongfooting Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon on the resulting kick.

Italy could not find a way through until substitute striker Giuseppe Rossi, equalized with a left-foot lash from 26 yards out that U.S. keeper Tim Howard had no chance at. Daniele De Rossi gave Italy the lead with an equally impressive curler from 30 yards until Rossi added another in injury time.

Rossi, born in New Jersey and son of an Italian immigrant father, had the option of playing for the U.S. but chose to play for the country he had represented in youth football tournaments.
The U.S. could use someone of his quality and energy; Rossi is a former Manchester United player and now scores regularly for Villareal in the La Liga. You can’t say that about, say, U.S. striker Jozy Altidore, who can’t even find time on Villareal’s bench.

The U.S. shouldn’t be ashamed of losing 3-1 being down a man, but Bob Bradley’s tactics must be questioned. After halftime, up 1-0, why not put ten men behind the ball and force Italy to find a way through? Instead, the U.S. tried to maintain some semblance of offense, which led to turnovers. After giving up possession, U.S. midfielders and fullbacks would retreat from Italy counterattacks. On Italy’s first two goals, American midfielders failed to mark the shooters and allowed clean looks.

Moreover, why is Bob Bradley bringing on a striker as his first substitution? Italy coach Marcello Lippi brought on Rossi and Riccardo Montolivo, two energetic youngsters, to replace elder veterans Gennaro Gattuso and Mauro Camoranesi in the 57th minute. The substitutes pressured an already stretched U.S. squad, which led to Rossi’s equalizer. Meanwhile, Bradley waited until the 66th minute and substituted Charlie Davies for Jozy Altidore. Substituting a striker for a striker at a time when the U.S. is struggling to maintain possession does not seem to make much sense.

Why not substitute Altidore for Sacha Kljestan as soon as Lippi makes his substitutions and play 4-4-1 with Landon Donovan as the release valve? Bradley could later fortify the midfield like he did in the fixture by bringing in DeMarcus Beasley for Benny Feilhaber. With the U.S. down a man and holding on to a precious lead against the defending World Cup champions, Bradley should have made defense and possession priorities, not attack.

Things don’t get easier for the U.S. squad, which faces Brazil on Thursday in what will be a pivotal Group B fixture. I would not be surprised if Bradley fights fire with fire and brings on an attacking squad, especially in light of the goal fest between Brazil and Egypt.