Nobody saw this coming. Up until Sunday's improbable series of events (a 3-0 win over Egypt and a 3-0 loss by Italy to Brazil), the 2009 Confederations Cup had been an unmitigated disaster for the US. They opened the tournament getting rolled by both Brazil and Italy. They had about a less than 1% chance after that of getting into the semifinals on goal differential, but everything fell into place, and there they were.
Still, there really was no reason to be excited. The US had shown little in their 2 cracks at elite opposition, and their semifinal opponent, Spain, certainly fell into that category. Spain had won 15 matches in a row, and hadn't lost in 35 matches. David Villa, Cesc Fabregas, Xavi, Fernando Torres, all superstars on this Spanish juggernaut.
Then, in the 27th minute, 19 year old Jozy Altidore (who plays for La Liga's Villarreal) stunned the Spanish with a goal to put the US ahead 1-0. Spain could not answer, and midway thru the second half Clint Dempsey gave the US a 2-0 lead that lasted the rest of the match. Unbelievably, the US beat Spain 2-0. Not only that, they advance to the finals of the Confederations Cup, considered a World Cup preview.
In the finals, they'll probably get a rematch with Brazil, who should dispose of host South Africa. The US will again be heavy underdogs, but who knows, the real breakthru for US soccer may be yet to come, and may be in the form of a Confederations Cup championship.