The United States soccer team has enjoyed very few days like today. There were the 2002 World Cup victories over Portugal and Mexico, the 1989 victory at Trinidad to send the States to its first World Cup in 40 years, and the 1950 1-0 stunner over England. We won't know the full impact of today's 2-0 upset of Spain in the Confederations Cup semifinals for a few years, but the win over FIFA's top-ranked team has a chance to surpass any past glory in terms of signifigance for the program.
Since their surprising run to the 2002 World Cup semifinals, the world has been waiting for the United States to establish itself as a consitent global contender. We are a long way from being ranked alongside Brazil, Italy and Germany, but there's a level just below those superpowers that the US seemed ready to join seven years ago. Today's result could be the first confirmation of our arrival.
Goal.com has a point-counterpoint on the significance of today's result. I'd argue that it's too soon to make that call, but Zac Lee Rigg makes a valid point- one result does not a build a program. He uses Greece's Euro winning squad of 2004 and Iraq's 2007 Asian Cup winners as evidence. The point is well-taken; this result will be diminished if the US doesn't use it has a springboard to a trip to the knockout round in 2010.
But let's worry about 2010 in 2010. Tonight is a time to savor a great result for the US. Showing poise defensively and taking full advantage of their limited offensive opportunities, Bob Bradley's men produced the greatest upset by an American sports team since the Miracle on Ice nearly three decades ago. Now the US has a date in the final on Sunday, likely against Brazil. Take another read of that last sentence. Let's hope you see similar lines many times in the years ahead.