That’s Entertainment

For those anti-international football types who didn’t notice, there was a final played yesterday. The Confederations Cup is nothing but a show that FIFA likes to put on. It does serve two purposes though – the host nation gets to show the rest of the world that they are ready to welcome them and of course FIFA makes even more money.

If you wanted something to do on a Sunday, watching the U.S.A. nearly stage what would have been a tremendous upset victory over Brazil was probably as good an option as any. The game started with Brazil pinning the U.S. back in its own half. I lost count of how many crosses Maicon sent into the box. The North Americans looked shaky at the back.

And then unexpectedly if not fortunately, Clint Dempsey scored against the run of play. It looked like he barely made contact with the ball but it counted nonetheless.

Brazil 0 – U.S.A. 1!

The goal sent shockwaves and anxiety through fans of the Seleção. Not to be outdone by his teammate, in the 26th minute Landon Donovan finished a superbly executed counter-attack.

Brazil 0 – U.S.A. 2!

So the first half finished with the most unlikely of score lines. Brazil had it all to do. The U.S. only had to hold their lead for just 45 minutes.

I’ve liked Luis Fabiano since his days at Sao Paulo. Excellent first touch! Good finisher! I like the player. I felt it was just a matter of time until he made his mark on the match. Quickly after the second half started, he did just that. Kaka scored, but it was not allowed. Luis Fabiano then scored the equalizer to set up a dramatic winner by captain Lúcio.

My only gripe about the game is how the debacle we’d just witnessed was less important in the eyes of the American presenters than the wow effect of having had ‘a two-goal lead over Brazil for the first time ever’. OK! Brazil represents the pinnacle of international football. Losing to them is never a cause for shame or embarrassment. But to be up two goals and then give up four unanswered (Kaka’s was clearly a legitimate goal) is unacceptable. I felt as though it had been the U.S. U19s who’d been beaten by the full Brazilian team.

I’m not sure if I agree with the loss being a moral victory. Not even Coach Bradley (at least not in the interviews I saw) said anything about surrendering a two-goal lead. I expected more analysis of how and why the lead was conceded. Homage to Brazil’s prowess and playing up the fact that the U.S. had done well just to get to the final wasn’t enough for me.

That is minor though in the grand scheme. More importantly, the match was exciting, played at high tempo, and in a good spirit. You could see that the North Americans were determined to give Coach Bradley selection options if not headaches when time comes to finalize his World Cup roster, especially after the poor displays in the earlier matches. You could see that the Brazilians were playing with the pride that anyone who wears the famous yellow jersey is expected to do.

The Confederations Cup is a show. Let’s be clear about that. Arsenal fans could be forgiven for having mild interest in Gilberto’s participation and serious concern that the additional matches only increase Cesc’s risk for injury. But for the football fan who just wants to be entertained, yesterday’s final was not the match to use as criticism of FIFA.

I along with many millions watching were entertained.

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