A lesson in finishing

Brazil celebrates with the Confederations Cup

It’s not exactly news that Brazil is a very good footballing side.

But during their 3-2 win over the United States in Sunday’s Confederations Cup final, the Selecao showed just how much quality and poise they possess.

And just how far the United States has to go when it comes to sealing the deal on the world stage.

Don’t get it twisted. Any fan of American soccer should be proud of the team’s effort today.

The two first-half goals were brilliant pieces of skill – a stark contrast to the goals against Spain, which were more of the lucky bounce variety.

It’s really all that anyone could ask. For the red, white and blue to have a 2-0 lead over one of the world’s best teams at halftime of a FIFA tournament final is the stuff of dreams.

The problem with dreams is that, sooner or later, you wake up.

So I guess that makes Luis Fabiano the bogeyman.

The Sevilla striker scored in the 46th minute to drag the Samba Kings back in the match before adding the equalizer on a rebound header in the 73rd minute.

Ten minutes later, the captain, Lucio, slammed home a powerful header off a perfectly served corner from Elano to give Brazil the match winner.

And they deserved it.

So, where did it go wrong?

That’s the thing. I’m not so sure it did.

Sure, the U.S. came out of the locker room a bit more tentative with the two-goal cushion. But why wouldn’t they? There’s no need to push so many men forward with a big lead when killing off the game would serve just as well.

No, on most days, two goals would have been enough.

The credit here goes to Brazil. I’m not sure what Dunga said at the half to light a fire under his squad, but the Selecao  looked as good as I’ve seen them since their World Cup run in 2002.

Felipe Melo and Gilberto Silva slammed the door on any U.S. attacks in the midfield and Luis Fabiano kept flashing the form that made him one of La Liga’s most feared strikers.

They came forward in wave after beautiful wave, sliding the ball into the middle, then out to the wings and then in to Tim Howard’s box.

You could see it coming. After the first goal, I knew that No. 2 was on the way. After the second, I hoped we could get it to extra time.

But it didn’t happen.

I’m disappointed, sure. But the overwhelming emotion for me is pride.

We were robbed against Italy, got waxed by Brazil, thumped Egypt, out-gutted Spain and then stood toe-to-toe with Brazil in the final of the Confederations Cup.

I’ll take that anyday.

And I’m taking something else with me from this tournament.


Because, if all goes well, we’ll be back on these fields next year, playing for the biggest prize in world sport – the World Cup.

I can think of no better preparation than what we’ve just endured.


One Response to “A lesson in finishing”

  1. maca Says:


    i think the big difference in the game was brazils ability to adjust things by introducing two world class subs that where instrumental in the comeback.

    when things are not going well for the big boys they can make changes that make a difference.

    what was impressive about the brazillians was that they didnt panic and stuck to what they believe in and thats to keep the ball and be patient.

    the US had a good game plan and should hold their heads high, unfortunatly they didnt have a plan B like brazil.

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