U.S. Soccer Shocks No. 1 Spain in World Tourney

Struggling national team ends Spain's 35-game win streak

By Eamonn Brennan
|  Thursday, Jun 25, 2009  |  Updated 3:59 AM PDT
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Associated Press

The U.S. can celebrate what is likely to stand as the greatest victory in the team's history -- beating European Champions and No. 1 ranked team Spain 2-0 in the semifinal of the Confederations Cup.

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Wins like this don't come very often, regardless of country. When you're the U.S., and the history of your national team is roughly akin to the Los Angeles Clippers' place in the NBA, these wins never happen. Until today.

The U.S. shocked Spain -- the No. 1-ranked national team in the world -- in the semifinals of the FIFA Confederations Cup Wednesday, topping what is without question a more talented, respected, and impressive side than the United States. Spain features players who start on nearly every top club in the world; the U.S. has but a few players that have found any measure of success in top leagues. And yet, despite the gulf in talent -- and a late red card -- the U.S. managed the impressive if frantic win.

It's hard to understate how unlikely this win was. By all rights, the U.S. didn't belong in the semifinals. They needed Italy to lose 3-0, and themselves to win 3-0 over Egypt, to advance; this miraculously happened. But the U.S. has looked weak throughout the Confederations Cup and its recent World Cup qualifiers. Spain, on the other hand, has looked every bit as tough as their win in Europe's major championship, Euro 2008, would suggest.

The last time Spain lost a game? 2006. The last time the U.S. lost a game? Last week. You get the idea.

So the US advance and play the winner of the opposite semifinal on Sunday. That will likely be Brazil. (Though if today is any indication, maybe not.) But no matter what happens on Sunday, the U.S. can decidedly call 2009's trip to South Africa a success. Next up: 2010.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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