June 28, 2009
FIFA 2009 Confederation Cup Final: Halftime
Anyone that has a genuine love of sports should be watching the FIFA Confederations Cup final this afternoon. The USA leads Brazil 2-0. While it's only halftime, this game and the game before when the USA upset Spain, the number one ranked team in the world, has been an amazing performance. For any team to reach the finals of a FIFA tournament is an accomplishment (a first for America by the way), and I don't think any team would ever take that for granted. But noone can deny how much of an underdog the USA has been, especially since giving the game up against Italy and being roundly defeated by Brazil in the group stage. The unlikely combination of events that sent the United States into the semifinals against Spain seems to have revitalized the team. I've watched every game that the US has played this tournament, and the team that played against Italy and Brazil in the group stage and the team that upset Spain and has Brazil on the ropes at halftime of the finals are two different teams. Of course, one must keep in mind that in both the Italy game and the first match against Brazil, the United States played with only 10 players after getting a red card in the first half of both games. At least one goal in each game could probably be attributed to simple fatigue. Still, those two losses could have demoralized the team and had the players accepting defeat and an early trip home. Somehow they found a way, caught a break or two, and got a second chance to prove themselves. It's really been an excellent metaphor for the American dream in general: the ability to have a second chance and make the most of it. There's still a lot of time to go against a monster of the international soccer world, but the USA has proved that they belong on the international stage, and that confidence and determination are quite possibly more important than a slight edge in ability. It's a lesson that everyone that ever has or will compete, in any endeavor, can take to heart and be proud of.