BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa -- Three thoughts after the U.S.' stunning 2-0 win over Spain in the Confederations Cup semis:
• The stunners keep on coming for the United States. Three nights after overcoming astronomical odds to beat Egypt 3-0 and qualify for the semifinals, the U.S. pulled off a monster upset against Spain, the world's top-ranked team. The Spaniards had won 15 straight games and gone a world-record tying 35 games without a loss. But the U.S. played with confidence from the start, stayed organized and mightily frustrated the Spanish Armada all night. Granted, it's not the World Cup, but you have to give the U.S. a ton of credit for knocking off the best team in the world in a competitive FIFA tournament. It's easily the biggest win for U.S. soccer since beating Mexico to reach the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals. Next stop for the Yanks: Sunday's final against Brazil or South Africa.
• Bob Bradley had the perfect game plan. The Fire Bradley crowd might have to keep quiet for a while. The U.S. stayed compact defensively, keeping the back line narrow and deep and daring the Spaniards to send crosses into the box (which isn't their strong suit). Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark had monster games in the central midfield, covering all sorts of ground, and Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu rarely put a foot wrong in the central defense. Captain Carlos Bocanegra somehow played all 90 minutes at left back despite this being his first game of the tournament. That left it for the U.S. attackers to pick their spots, and they did: Clint Dempsey put the game away late in the second half and played his second straight Dempsey-quality game, Landon Donovan kept going forward (and frustrating the Spaniards) and Jozy Altidore broke out of his slump with a huge goal against his Spanish-league brethren.
• Not having Michael Bradley on Sunday could be a killer. Bradley drew a red card late against Spain and will miss the final. That's a major blow for the Americans: Bradley has covered a ton of ground in this tournament and showed he has a future at a big club in Europe.
What did you think of the U.S.' stunning upset? Check back later for postgame quotes....
Just a quick note on the Spanish players/jersey exchange topic. Not every single Spanish player stormed off the field without exchanging jerseys. Most of them did, something that Donovan noted after the game. I did not remove the item about the topic in this blog post--someone at SI.com did. (If I had done it myself, there would have been a line put through it, but it would have remained in the post.) Also, if you wonder why I only put "three thoughts" in the original postgame posts, it's because I have to post it by the final whistle, then hustle to the postgame interviews. After the postgame interviews, I'll write another (more detailed) piece, which is the one that has since been added to the blog. Thanks for reading.