The United States are one victory away from claiming a major FIFA competition for the first time if they can produce an upset against heavily favoured Brazil at the Confederations Cup final on Sunday.
REUTERS - The United States are one victory away from claiming a major FIFA competition for the first time if they can produce another shock against Brazil when the Confederations Cup reaches its climax on Sunday.
Skipper Carlos Bocanegra, whose side were beaten 3-0 by Brazil in their Group B encounter on June 18, says the U.S. will play without fear against their heavily favoured opponents and adopt an entirely different strategy for the match.
Unlike the U.S., Brazil know all about winning major trophies, having been crowned world champions five times. They are seeking a third Confederations Cup victory in attempting to retain the trophy they won in 2005.
"The first time we played Brazil we came out a bit timid," Bocanegra said at a news briefing on Friday. "We gave them too much respect.
"We went out and sat back too much but we changed it against Egypt, playing with a lot of energy from the start and we carried that into the Spain game. We had a go at them for 90 minutes rather than absorb pressure."
The U.S. beat Egypt 3-0 to secure a surprise semi-final berth and then secured an even more unlikely place in the final with a stunning 2-0 win over Spain, who suffered their first international defeat for nearly three years and 36 matches.
"It is very important for us to win," said U.S. coach Bob Bradley, adding that victory would help the team's seeding for the World Cup finals draw later this year.
"In our history, the U.S. national team have had some important and very good victories but we have never won a major competition.
"We have won the CONCACAF Gold Cup and that is the reason we are here. Every team wants the chance to play in a final and we are looking forward to it. It would be incredible for us if we won it."
Bradley will not be able to choose son Michael for the game, however, as he was sent off towards the end of the semi-final.
He will have the impressive Clint Dempsey in attack and the Fulham forward will be looking to complete an excellent tournament with a winner's medal.
Dempsey has scored twice, including the second against Spain, and was praised by FIFA Technical Study member Holger Osieck for "winning nearly every ball in the air, keeping possession and working hard" in their 3-0 win over Egypt.
Osieck also praised his "tireless" performance against Spain in which, besides his goal, he helped to set up the first for Jozy Altidore.
Despite the north Americans' enthusiasm and new-found sense of belief, Brazil still start as overwhelming favourites.
However, the Brazilians know they cannot allow themselves to be out-thought as they were for long periods against South Africa in their semi-final on Thursday, or they might struggle to win with the flourish the world loves to see.
A Daniel Alves free kick two minutes from time secured their 1-0 win over the hosts and midfielder Gilberto Silva said they would take nothing for granted in the final.
"I was not shocked by the U.S. victory," he told reporters after the South Africa game.
"Spain did not do their job in a proper way, and if you do not do that you are not going to win. We respected our opponents and worked hard for the victory. We will do the same on Sunday."
Forward Robinho added: "If the United States are in the final, you cannot say they are lucky. They have improved and it is going to be very hard against them, but I think we will win."
Brazil and the U.S. have met 15 times with Brazil winning 14 matches and the U.S. one.
The final starts at 2030 (1830 GMT) at Ellis Park, with the third-place playoff between Spain and South Africa kicking off at 1500 (1300 GMT) at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.
Brazil: 1-Julio Cesar; 2-Maicon, 3-Lucio, 14-Luisao, 16-Andre Santos; 5-Felipe Melo, 8-Gilberto Silva, 18-Ramires, 10-Kaka; 9-Luis Fabiano, 11-Robinho
United States: 1-Tim Howard; 21-Jonathan Spector, 15-Jay DeMerit, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra; 8-Clint Dempsey, 22-Benny Feilhaber, 13-Ricardo Clark, 10-Landon Donovan; 9-Charlie Davies, 17-Jozy Altidore
Date created : 2009-06-28