Home > Uncategorized > A Second-Half Goal? Now that’s impressive.

A Second-Half Goal? Now that’s impressive.

We will admit it.  We didn’t predict the US would beat Spain.  We hoped it.  We thought they had a chance.  But we didn’t share the team’s confidence that it would happen.

Looking big picture for now — detailed stats to come later — one of the most impressive things about the U.S. victory is that they not only held on under a flurry of pressure, but actually scored (a) a second goal and (b) a second-half goal.

Recall that Spain (as good as it has been) has had issues in the first half with its own scoring.  In fact, in its last real match before the Confederations Cup Turkey took a 1-0 lead into the half, only to concede two second-half goals.  But Spain’s second-half scoring had not let them down in a long time:  7 of their 8 goals in close matches (decided by less than 2 goals) came in the second half.  In 18 consecutive matches, nobody scored on Spain in the second half.  If you were lucky, Spain would spot you a goal in the first half and then score two in the second.

And Spain hasn’t needed two goals to merely tie in a long time.  In 29 matches, nobody had scored two goals on Spain.  England, Italy, France, Germany . . . Greece did it on August 22, 2007 and then nobody else did until the U.S.

When Clint Dempsey scored the first second-half goal against Spain in 18 matches, it was over.  You could see the disbelief on Sergio Ramos’s face:  it wasn’t just that the U.S. had taken a 2-0 lead.  Appearances aside, the U.S. wasn’t following the script:  they were still pressuring and trying to score more.  Nobody else did that — they were content to try and preserve the tie or, if lucky, a one-goal lead.  While the U.S. certainly fell back into a more defensive mindset in the second half, they still picked moments to apply pressure to Spain.  And that caught the Spanish defenders off guard.

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