I can only shake my head at what we can expect from Brazil in the 2010 World Cup. That really should be what we take back home. We know their talent but today showed a team that would not go away. Hats off to the USA for pushing them to the limits but if the meme pushed by Alexi Lalas and John Harkes is "we let one get away" then I am sorry, that really is the wrong message. It gives the impression that the US had the Brazilians by the scruff of the neck and it was an awful display in the second half that let the US down.
Nothing could be farther from the truth as Kaka, Robinho, Luis Fabiano, Maicon, Lucio, and Dani Alves took control of the second half. In the first half, Jonathan Spector limited the damage that Robinho could do. Dempsey with a delicate touch flicked home a Spector cross and Donovan took a cross from Charlie Davis to slice a goal past Julio Cesar. The goals put the USA two up at half time. But indications that the Brazilians were moving into overdrive were already present as Bocanegra fortuitously deflected Maicon's cross past Luis Fabiano's otherwise assured goal before the half closed.
As soon as the second half began Brazil lost no time with Fabiano collecting a pass swinging around and volleying a goal home as the defense stood blindsided. The goal led to the Brazilians exerting even more pressure as they sought the equalizer pushing the US deeper into their corner. Even catching a fortuitous break when replays clearly showed Tim Howard's save off Kaka clearly came when the ball had already crossed the goal line only delayed the inevitable. The Brazilians scored again in the 74th minute with Fabiano at the right place and time to head the ball back into goal as Robinho's shot clanged of the crossbar (it looked like it had broken the line) and into his path . Brazil buried the stake 10 minutes later when Elano's corner was headed emphatically by Lucio straight past Tim Howard for the match winning goal.
What the "we let one get away" message does is that it demeans an overachieving US effort. The US lost ball possession, was overwhelmed by the huge discrepancy in shots on goals, and conceded far too many set pieces. It still served them well against Spain who ran out of ideas when they needed to score. Believe me as a long suffering Gunners fan we carry every possession stat possible when we lose to teams like Hull City. It still does not mean that those teams are better than Arsenal. However, in the final the US came across a resilient Brazilian team that had answers to the adverse half time score. Let me tell you as much as the US learned about itself, the Brazilians learned more through this match. That is why Dunga looked exultant and Lucio looked like he was about to weep. They know now what it takes to win the World Cup. True grit, baby! True grit.
The reason why I wanted the US to win has less to do with international success. It has more to do with forcing the game onto the national mainstream which only becomes animated every four years the World Cup is played. The game is given conditional love. It still lives on headlines like "USA beats world number one in soccer." Another one would have been extremely nice. But please dispense with the "we let one get away" claptrap. All it does is reinforce the same mindset that doomed us in the 2006 World Cup when FIFA gave us a ranking of number four. I mean come on.