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Despite the heartbreaking loss to Brazil in the finals of the Confederations Cup, there is much to look forward to for the U.S. men’s soccer team and growth/following of soccer in the states.
First, the U.S. team will be playing with great confidence as they are preparing for the World Cup, which will be held in South Africa next year. This past Confederations Cup was just another step in a process to make the U.S. team better, more respected and bringing more attention to the game of soccer to America.
The U.S. didn’t just waltz right into the final, but had to truly earn the right to have the opportunity to play for the Cup. They had to face and beat some of the top teams in the world including Egypt and stunning European champion Spain to reach the finals. Although they ended up losing in the final, all of these matches were part of the process, which will help the U.S. team grow and learn from their mistakes in order to be prepared for the World Cup.
One lesson learned is the Americans have to play the entire match and not just the first half. They illustrated that they could out-play their opponents for two and a half games, but in the end, they failed to close out the Brazil team. This is a concern that the U.S. team and Coach Bob Bradley will have to address and change. In addition, the Americans will have to improve on their defense. Even with shutting out Spain, they still gave up six goals to Brazil and three to Egypt overall in the tournament.
What can be viewed as a double-edge sword is the respect now gained throughout the soccer world for the U.S. team. This display at the Confederations Cup illustrated that the Americans are a solid team, should not be taken lightly, and are able to compete with the best in the game. Not that Spain and Egypt did not play their hardest, but their mindset must be different after losing to the underdog Americans.
The Americans will have to play at an even higher level in the future because of what they accomplished this past tournament. America is disliked by the rest of the world in any sport, and with the unexpected recent success in the Confederations Cup, our soccer team has added to that in another sport.
Additionally, it will be important for Bradley to keep this team together and keep practicing together. The only way to keep up their chemistry and become better will to keep the same players intact for the World Cup.
Although soccer is not considered one of the four major sports in the states, it sure got some well-deserved recognition during the past couple of weeks. If you asked people about the Confederations Cup before it began, many Americans wouldn’t even know it was a soccer tournament. Now, most people know that the U.S. Soccer team came up one goal short against one of the best soccer teams in the world.
The final match against Brazil was one of if not the most viewed U.S. soccer game according to ESPN’s initial figures. People were watching from all over the country. New York, Miami, Las Vegas and San Francisco were some of the top markets that tuned into the match. This is huge for expansion of soccer in the states and bringing credit to the sport.
Also, on June 25, Ed Foster, President of the United States Soccer Foundation, joined a team assembled with hopes to bring the World Cup tournament to the United States in 2018 or 2022. Foster is known, respected, and experienced in the soccer community and his addition brings a lot of credibility to the committee to make a push to host a World Cup.
These are all examples of good things to come for the sport of soccer in the states. The more success the national team has will continue to bring attention to the sport and hopefully will increase participation, spectators and a global perception that the Americans are here to stay as a competitive force in international soccer.