First of all, U.S.A. in their last world-wide tournament, the 2006 world cup, were embarrassed walking away 0-2-1 after being ranked in the top 15 in the world prior to the tourney. They started out the Confederations Cup dropping their first game losing 3-1 to Italy (2 goals from an Italian American that we let get away), Then we lost to Brazil 3-0 in our second game. We, for all intensive purposes, were eliminated. Brazil had to win their game over Italy by at least 3 goals, and the U.S.A. had to beat Egypt by 3 goals. Some how the U.S.A. pulled it off. After 5 straight, less than perfect performances they did something right.
So they made the second round of the tourney. Now they got to face the #1 team in the world spain, who had basically kicked the crap out of everyone in their pool during the first round of the tourney. I'm pretty sure even the U.S. Coaching Staff was doubting their chances. The U.S. not only won the game, but controlled arguably the world's best team for 90 minutes on their way to a 2-0 win and the championship game. Now the U.S.A. is in the Championship against Brazil whom had already embarrassed the boys in blue in the first round of the tourney 3-0. The U.S. came out strong and put Brazil's backs against the wall. Up 2-0 at half, the U.S.A. just couldn't hold up and lost 3-2 to the new #1 team in the world.
So why is this important? I mean we didn't even win, but it's significant for a couple reasons:
1. We actually won a game! and even better, we beat a good team! U.S.A. Soccer hadn't done anything outside of our regional area, where the only real team we play against is Mexico. In the last world cup we got knocked around by both Italy and the Czech Republic, and only managed a tie vs. Ghana. This was a big proving ground for the U.S.A. team and for the new coach Bob Bradley. After the slow Start the U.S. stepped up to the plate and did something.
2. We have some momentum going into the World Cup. We beat Spain, who always is good at soccer, and we had Brazil on the ropes. I don't know about you, but if I were playing i would feel like whatever this years world cup has in store for us was nothing compared to what we had faced. The U.S. also got a very favorable draw for the 2010 World Cup with the only real threat being England.
3. U.S. sports fans took just a minute to check out this team. The U.S. Soccer team actually got some publicity, from ESPN nonetheless. The U.S. fan base is giving them a chance to prove themselves. Now it's up to the team to not screw it up. But U.S.A. soccer finally got some news coverage and has the chance to insert itself into the U.S. sports fans hearts that its never had.
And thats why The U.S.A.'s run in the Confederations Cup is the most significant sports event of 2009.