RUSTENBURG, South Africa -- Three quick thoughts after the U.S.' 3-0 win against Egypt, which (combined with Brazil's 3-0 win over Italy) sends the U.S. to the Confederations Cup semifinals:
• Million-to-one shots do come true. Welcome to the craziest night in U.S. soccer since South Korea's late goal against Portugal gave the U.S. a birth in the second round of the 2002 World Cup. It seemed impossible: To survive, the Americans needed a 3-0 win over Egypt and a 3-0 Brazil win over Italy. And they got it. What can you say? The U.S. showed all the determination, confidence and discipline that it didn't show against Brazil on Thursday. It scored goals with hustle (Charlie Davies), skill (Michael Bradley) and grit (Clint Dempsey). Miraculously, the U.S. will meet Spain in the semifinals on Wednesday in Bloemfontein.
• The U.S. kept its cool. The Americans could have been knocked off their game when Egyptian defender Hani Said used his outstretched arm to block Jozy Altidore's shot off the goal line and deny the U.S. a 2-0 lead in the 52nd minute. (New Zealand referee Michael Hester swallowed his whistle.) But the Yanks kept pushing, going up 2-0 11 minutes later on Bradley's goal and using Dempsey's pinpoint header in the 71st minute for the all-important 3-0 margin. For all the criticism this team has taken for its fecklessness in this tournament, this was a truly remarkable performance.
• The Yanks were due for some luck. After earning two somewhat harsh red cards and not getting the benefit of the goal-line handball against Egypt, the U.S. got a big lucky horseshoe from Brazil, which had to beat Italy by three goals for the Americans to have any chance of surviving. I'm watching the U.S. players on the field right now, and it's almost as if they're in shock that they have actually qualified for the semifinals. It's certainly a night that's reminiscent of South Korea's gift goal at the '02 World Cup, but this was an entirely different U.S. performance than the one in '02 against Poland. The U.S. put itself in a situation to advance, and it deserves what it got. Unbelievable.
Post your thoughts below, and check back later for post-game interviews...
UPDATE: Just got back from postgame interviews and learned from my SI magazine editor that I need to save them for this week's SI mag story. My apologies!