It seemed to shock everyone with whom I watched the match, though. This just in: at any given time, Brazil is probably better at soccer than the United States. I know! Ground-breaking!
There are any number of reasons that the Unites States blew a 2-0 lead. Tim Howard had a great first half. Not so much with the second. It happens. The States probably got a little over-confident, because being 2-0 up to Brazil is not a place they’ve ever been and it’s confusing. Conversely, Brazil apparently realized that it would be at least a little embarrassing to lose, and turned on the gas.
We should be proud of the US team. The stakes were pretty high for them and they were runners-up, ahead of a generally, if not empirically, superior Spanish team. They scored first and second against the historically greatest team in the world–Brazil has won five World Cups, remember, and this is their third Confederations Cup (the former partly causes the latter, but, you know, whatever). It was a good run, especially when you consider the club careers and relative fame levels. There was nothing shaming about today’s defeat, and much that was laudable.
But it would also not be shaming had the US not advanced this far, even if I would like to have a US team that truly competed in real FIFA tournaments. They’d be on television more, it would be nice to win world titles in sports we didn’t invent ourselves, we would look less jingoistic and weird and padded up.
And that’s just it. The US plays other sports. Soccer is not remotely the primary sport in the States. In a bar, watching a match, you will find men who do not understand the offside rule. That we have, at any point, produced a squad that could managed not to be embarrassed by the Brazilian national squad for a consecutive set of ninety minutes is astounding.
And, hey! The US team is cuter than the Brazilian side. They’re not cuter than many (maybe France on a day when Thierry Henry has flu?), so we should really lap this up. Here’s a mildly antique photo of Oguchi Onyewu, looking rather more pleased than he does right now….