News Column

Soccer (Futbol): United States to Play Spain in Massachusetts

June 3, 2011

Kerith Gabriel

Soccer

Since last February, Spain has been the top club in the world.

Its national team won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and is the reigning European champion after capturing the Euro 2008 title.

Its club teams have won both UEFA Champions League (Barcelona, 2011) and Europa League (Atletico Madrid, 2010) tournaments.

Spanish football is a world power, one that will take center stage tomorrow night in Foxborough, Mass. And clearly soccer supporters remember the last time these two played, when the United States emerged victorious.

The United States have been the only team to conquer Spain, a stunning 2-0 victory to reach the finals of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. Goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey secured Team USA's first trip to a final in a major FIFA tournament.

It's a moment American soccer fans haven't forgot as nearly 58,000 tickets have been sold for tomorrow night's match, a record-setter for a men's national team game in Massachusetts. The two countries have faced each other four times, with the Spaniards holding a 3-1 edge.

Spain will be without studs Xavi Hernandez, Cesc Fabregas, Carlos Puyol and Jesus Navas. However, virtuoso goal scorer David Villa and playmaker Andres Iniesta will make the trip. Iniesta scored the game-winner in the World Cup final against Germany, but is better known as a setup man who can slash through defenses with relative ease.

However, the U.S. team has put together a formidable group of its own. Fifteen players on coach Bob Bradley's 23-man roster compete in either Europe or South America, with five players on MLS rosters. Perhaps the most surprising inclusion is former youth sensation Freddy Adu, who makes his first appearance on a full team roster since 2008.

One thing the Americans have on their side is a 9-1-2 record at Gillette Stadium, scoring 28 goals and conceding just six, with eight shutouts.

It's a major prelude heading into CONCACAF Gold Cup play on Tuesday, when virtually the same unit will open Group C against Canada at Ford Field in Detroit on Tuesday at 8 p.m., followed by Panama (June 11 at 8 p.m.) at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., and Guadeloupe (June 14) at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City (9 p.m.). The United States will seek its fifth Gold Cup title and the odds are seemingly in its favor.

When it comes to Spain, however, the odds makers don't hold the U.S. team in high regard. Perhaps a perfect time to shock the masses yet again.



Source: Copyright (c) 2011, Philadelphia Daily News


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