When looking at the U.S. finishing 2nd in the Confederations Cup, it is easy to start getting excited about the team. I think, however, the excitement might be a little premature.
If we look at the tournament in its entirety we see, not a soccer team ready to vie for a World Cup, but rather a team that made the semifinals via the longest of long shots. Did they deserve to be there? Sure, they made their own luck, but that’s not to say that they’ve been a dominant team recently.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the victory over Spain was an excellent win, but it was a bit like surviving a siege. The U.S. were dominated in every aspect of that game except on the scoreboard. The U.S. will not get very far next summer, or even in CONCACAF letting Tim Howard get shelled every game.
That’s the problem. The U.S. played the same way for every game of the Confederations Cup except for their game against Egypt, a team ranked considerably lower than them that they should beat every time.
When you look at each game of the tourney, it becomes even more obvious that the U.S. is not nearly ready for primetime.
Game 1: They go up 1-0 at halftime and then let in 3 second half goals to Italy and lose 3 -1.
Game 2: They get blown out by Brazil, who score 3 first half goals and cruise. The final is 3 – 0.
In fact, going into the third game against Egypt, who beat Italy and nearly beat Brazil, most thought it was going to be another blowout.
Game 3: The U.S. did a great job and finally played to win rather than not to lose, but the 3-0 win only helped them when Italy collapsed against Brazil.
Game 4: The U.S. scored a goal early, then held on for dear life against Spain, who everyone knows overlooked the U.S.. Even then, Spain had most of the chances and were unlucky to score. A late U.S. goal makes the final 2-0, but there was no time in that match that U.S. looked equal to Spain.
Game 5: Finally the U.S. played like they may be ready to do something in the World Cup. The first half against Brazil was the best they’ve played in months, but 45 minutes doesn’t make a game, and to be fair, Brazil still had most of the play. If Tim Howard doesn’t make several huge saves, the game is tied at the half. The U.S. comes out and gets crushed in the second half when Brazil scores 3 (really 4) goals and ends up with the trophy.
The U.S. really played about 120 minutes of good soccer out of a possible 450 minutes played. Not really the type of performance we should be expecting out of the 14th best team in the World, according to FIFA.
In fact, I believe that if the U.S. keeps playing the way they did for most of the Confederations Cup in CONCACAF qualifying, they might not even make it to the World Cup next summer.
The U.S. has a lot of work to do before next summer. They would do well to study their play in the whole tourney rather than focusing on where they finished.