Commentary

Top club players share thoughts on U.S. win

Updated: June 26, 2009, 11:16 AM ET
By Sheldon Shealer | ESPNRISE.com

The United States men's soccer team stunned top-ranked Spain 2-0 in the Confederations Cup semifinals Wednesday. The victory is being called one of the greatest in the history of U.S. international soccer.

ESPNRISE.com caught up with a pair of elite club players from the Class of 2010 to get their reactions to the match.

ESPN RISE: What was your reaction to the U.S. victory?

Patrick Poblete, Arizona, committed to New Mexico: I was hugely surprised by the United States' upset win over the Spanish national team. Spain had it all going for them, ranked No. 1 in the world and riding a 35-match unbeaten streak, along with a 15-game winning streak. There was nothing to indicate that the United States had a chance to win, especially with Spain fielding one of their strongest lineups, albeit with injured Andres Iniesta. Even after the first goal, I had the feeling the Spanish team would fight their way back into it, much as the Italians did last week.

Alex Merrill, Colorado, committed to Duke: This was not a lucky break. The U.S. team took advantage of Spain's mistakes and played to win. This is great for U.S. soccer.

ESPN RISE: What was your favorite moment of the match and why?

Poblete: My favorite moment of the match came shortly after Clint Dempsey scored. He ran to the sideline to celebrate, and it appeared as though he would take off his jersey much like Jozy Altidore did. He reached for his waist and began untucking his shirt, then though better of it and left it alone. This was cerebral play from one of the United States' more hot-headed players and showed that despite the multitude of red cards acquired so far, the United States have composure under pressure.

ESPN RISE: Who was your player of the match?

Poblete: From a United States standpoint, the players of the match did not even suit up in the white with red pinstripes. Both of the Spanish outside backs, Joan Capedevilla and Sergio Ramos, gifted the United States goals. While Oguchi Onyewu did a fantastic job leading from the back, winning challenges and keeping everything organized, Donovan tracked back to help defensively and provided an outlet to counterattack, and Charlie Davies provided good energy and work rate, neither of the goals would have been achieved without poor play from the attack-minded Spanish outside backs. If Capedevilla does not dive in to a tackle that he knows he cannot win, stays behind Altidore and waits for help, the first goal does not happen. Enough has already been said about Ramos' [misplay that led to a U.S.] goal, so I don't think I need to explain that one.

Merrill: Tim Howard kept his cool and had intense focus the whole game.

ESPN RISE: Does this result make the U.S. a contender at next year's World Cup?

Poblete: I believe that this result gives the United States confidence going forward, but I am not sure it makes them a contender. They have had some awful results in CONCACAF qualifying play, not to mention that they were thoroughly beaten by both Brazil and Italy. It proves to me that they can get up for big games, such as one in the round of 16, of quarterfinals and be a legitimate threat, but I believe they will struggle in their group in the World Cup.

Merrill: USA's defeating Spain proves that we can win against any team in the world. Of course we are a contender. Because of this win, other teams will take the U.S. seriously and will play hard against us, so the team should be ready!

Sheldon Shealer covers youth soccer for ESPNRISE.com. He can be reached at Sheldon.Shealer@espn.com .