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Friday, June 26, 2009
Gulati reflects on victory over Spain

JOHANNESBURG -- If the United States follows its upset of European champion Spain with a victory over South American champion Brazil in Sunday's Confederations Cup final, it would be the greatest back-to-back wins in American soccer history.

U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati ranked Wednesday's 2-0 victory over the world's top-ranked team alongside the 1989 victory at Trinidad and Tobago that earned the U.S. its first World Cup berth since 1950, a first-round win over Colombia at the 1994 World Cup, and wins over Portugal and Mexico en route to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals.

"I think people generally agree that this would be in that same group. I wasn't around in the 1950 game," Gulati said, referring to what many regard as the No. 1 U.S. win, the 1-0 upset of England at the 1950 World Cup.

"What would be very, very unique would be to win the trophy here and have two of those games in a row," Gulati said. "Then I think you can certainly say it's been the best week in the history of U.S. soccer."

After opening with losses to four-time world champion Italy and five-time champion Brazil, the 14th-ranked U.S. advanced from the first round by defeating Egypt 3-0 as the Azzurri lost to Brazil by the same score.

"Someone said to me after the Egypt game, 'So you got lucky," Gulati said. "There's only one thing in this entire process that's been pure luck, and that was the draw. And in the draw we drew Italy, Brazil and Egypt."

Gulati said the victory over Spain has created what is referred to in the U.S. as water cooler talk -- people at work gathering around the water fountain and talking about a current event or issue.

"We haven't convinced the world that we're better than Spain. What we convinced the world was we can beat Spain," Gulati said. "I don't think we convinced anyone that we're now ready to beat Spain every week. That's not the case, but we proved we can, and hopefully we'll prove the same with Brazil on Sunday."

U.S. players are hearing the feedback.

"The players will tell you that they've been getting texts, e-mails, Twitters and Facebooks and whatevers and all this stuff from the people they know back home telling them that they're proud of us," coach Bob Bradley said.

Yet neither the team nor the federation is getting carried away.

"Nobody is ready to crown us world champions. Nobody is ready to say that in 10 games we would beat Brazil in seven or eight of them," Gulati said. "But our players know what they are capable of. They know they were better than what they showed against Brazil, and the reality is we've got a pretty good team."




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