The NY Kid failed his pregame fitness test, so I'm your last-minute substitution. I promise that I'll try to match his high level of liveblogging from this morning!
From an American perspective, there's not much more hyperbole that can be added to this game, although that hasn't stopped the U.S. media from trying (but hey, at least they're writing about soc-cer!). The statistic you will hear often today is that the United States is playing in its first FIFA tourney final. We can debate whether the Confederations Cup is a real tournament all we want, but needless to say that the American turnaround has been quite remarkable.
Unlike Spain, the Brazilians are in-form and unlikely to roll over today. But then, who would've said that the U.S. would beat Egypt 3-0 to make it into the knockouts, or beat Spain to make it into the finals? In other words, can the U.S. continue their bizarro run through the Confederations Cup? And I said there was no more hyperbole that could be added!!
Lineups, liveblog and lots of your comments after the hop.
Oooh-Essah, Oooh-Essah, Oooh-Essah: Howard, Bocanegra(c), Onyewu, DeMerit, Spector, Feilhaber, Clark, Donovan, Dempsey, Clark, Altidore. Subs: Guzan, Robles, Bornstein, Casey, Pearce, Beasley, Wynne, Klejstan, Adu, Torres, Califf
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Santos, Luisao, Lucio(c), Maicon, Melo, Silva, Kaka, Ramires, Fabiano, Robinho. Subs: Victor, Gomes, Kleber, Elano, Alves, Miranda, Josue, Baptista, Kleberson, Pato, Nilmar, Juan
-30: Harkes is joining Lalas in the studio for the pregame. They're seated awfully close to each other, eh? I expect lots and lots of talk about beating Brazil back in 1998.
-23: Wonder if Giuseppe Rossi is home watching this match? Hahaha.
-20: As EF notes in the comments (hi!) Feilhaber gets the nod in midfield over Klejstan. Bob Bradley made the right move, now it's down to my favorite Brazilian-Jewish-American to make good.
-15: Anyone else notice that the USA's miraculous turnaround coincided with the sudden disappearance of Tommy Smyth from ESPN? Just saying.
-10: Hey look a Bill Simmons commercial. I bet he worked that into his latest contracts (10 commercials about me a week).
-8: Teams are out on the pitch, the stadium looks pretty much full - and the vuvuzelas are already a-buzzin'. Truly, the one word that has been made famous during this tournament. Sepsis Bladder, Jacob Zuma and the other "dignitaries" are shaking the players hands.
-5: The vuvuzelas are adding a nice Lamont Young/John Cage drone to the national anthems.
-3: One of the sideline officials is Mexican. I'm going to be keeping an eye on him!
-1: A tribute to Marc-Vivien Foé, Cameroon midfielder who played for Man City and Lyon.
KICKOFF: Ooof I'm nervous! Brazil kick off.
2: If the first couple minutes mean anything, Brazil look like they'll try to keep the ball and force the Americans run around and tire out. U.S. look like they'll try to put pressure on the Brazilians like they did against Spain.
3: Good play by the U.S. bringing the ball up the pitch, leading to a long shot by Deuce that wasn't troubling the keeper. Then Clark tries a through ball to Davies.
4: Cliche alert! Brazil wants to win beautifully.
6: Brazil pressing into the box. USMNT clear the first corner, here comes another....
7: Kaka has a clear header on the near post but he's far wide. Howard unhappy with the defending.
9: Bigus wants to point out that Harkes lied earlier today: "Harkes just lied. !!! He was asked if he had played against marc vivean foe and he said he had in 94-95. Foe joined west ham in 98!!"
10: GOAL GOAL GOAL DEMPSEY: Wow!! Spector with another fantastic cross, Deuce gets a boot on it and its in the corner of the goal. 1-0 USA!! (Sorry for the delay, Blogger acting up.)
13: Robinho with acres of space and forces a good save by Timmeh, the Americans clear the resulting corner. And then Davies had a break and was bumped... He goes down and the US gets a freekick right outside the box. US corner. Breathless stuff!
14: Bocanegra heads the ball down and the US get another corner. The ball pings around the box. No let up from the Americans, who are looking like the stronger team.
16: Kaka has a shot but Demerit is there to block. Americans need to be very careful on the defensive wings, Spector and Bocanegra are getting consistently beat.
17: Other UFers are checking in.... The Likely Lad couldn't get into a capacity Nevada Smiths (why he went there in the first place I'm not sure), and Autoglass is watching in Paris. How cosmopolitan we are!!
18: US freekick, around 35 yards out. Into the box but Brazil eventually clears.
19: Yellow care to Bocanegra, who was literally hanging on to Kaka. That's one way to defend against the break!
21: US playing lots of men behind the ball. Need to be careful that they don't forget to press forward as well! Still lots of game to be played. Silva kicks the ball behind the ball for a freekick.
22: Spector gets absolutely skinned by Robinho on the wing but the Americans recover. Those wings are making me nervous though. Meanwhile, Feilhaber with a great tackle on Kaka. Mistime it and it would've been a yellow.
24: The Likely Lad reports: "Brazil fans are real douches. Not carrying on so much after the goal."
25: Howard with a very good save on a long Melo shot, who then earns a yellow card for something - probably complaining. Brazil still pressing and the US still defending. Can Brazil punish the Americans for trying to get to the break 1-0?
27: Another great save from Timmeh on a Maicon cross along the line. Brazil gets the corner, US clear to Donovan on the break and....
GOAL DONOVAN!!! 2-0 USMNT! DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? YES! Totally against the run of play but the Americans counter very very well, Donovan with a great first touch to beat the Brazilian defender and slot the ball into the corner.
30: US cannot stay content now, and continue to put pressure on the ball and earn a throw-in for their efforts. Cross into the box just out of the reach of two Americans in the box. Wow. Almost a third.
32: Feilhaber and Clark can't quite connect in the box and the Brazilians counter the other way. Gooch clears but the Brazilians come back. Lots of pretty play by the Brazilians around the box but so far the Americans are defending well.
34: Lingering Bursitis checks in after taking a break from baby duty: "Full credit, Americans are playing like they should. Solid D and kill teams with their defense and use their speed. This should be their M.O.!"
35: Another great save from Timmeh from a short-range Santos shot, and then Fabiano heads the ball just over the bar. Phew!
36: Altidore skins Santos, who brings him down and gives up a freekick just outside the box to the right. Well done by Jozy.
37: Free kick just cleared by Brazil, otherwise Deuce would've had a header on goal. Corner to the Americans.
38: Corner goes straight to Cesar, and the Brazilians break right away and earn a free kick around 30 yards outside the goal. Brazil are lining it up here.
39: Brazil too smart for their own good here and waste the freekick. Davies breaks on the counter but his final touch lets him down.
40: Spector beats Kaka one-on-one on the wing. Well done!
41: Lingering Bursitis checks in again: "Maybe Project 2010 wasn't so crazy afterall!" Robinho almost scores but Howard with another last-ditch save.
43: Americans on the back foot again, but do just enough to defend and Maicon's shot goes wide. US will be very, very happy to go in at the half up two goals here!
44: Feilhaber has made several great tackles... So my favorite Brazilian-Jew-American is meeting expectations! Maicon takes a crack from long distance, it's deflected out for a corner that Howard collects. One minute of extra time.
45 Ohhhh Fabiano almost connects on a fantastic cross by Maicon.
TWEET TWEET TWEET Halftime: The USMNT go into the lockerroom up 2-0 on Brazil! Not in my wildest dreams, not even close. 45 minutes to play though. Brazil certainly have the ability to come back here.
Half: So I'm wondering which war metaphor best epitomizes what the US needs to do in the second half: The Alamo? Valley Forge? The Second Battle of Bull Run? The Battle of the Bulge??
Half: Watching Spector play today, I can't help but ask: What was Bob Bradley thinking by playing Marvel Wynne over Spector?? But seriously, no matter what happens the rest of this game, it's difficult to be too mad at Bradley, isn't it? Seems to be making all the right personnel moves lately: Davies, Clark, Spector, Feilhaber. Oh who am I kidding, forget insta-punditry, everything's thrown out the window right now. It's all about holding on against Brazil for the next 45 minutes.
46: US kick off. Deep breath, here we go.
46: GOAL BRAZIL FABIANO: Maicon passes to Fabiano just outside the box with his back to the goal, turns, beats Demerit and Howard. Brilliant goal. 2-1.
48: US a little rattled now. Just showed the replay again. Nothing Demerit or Howard could've done once Fabiano got the ball where he did. Brazil freekick at the halfway line.
50: Kaka waits too long with the ball just outside the box and the Americans clear. Altidore on the break but it goes out of bounds for a U.S. throw-in. Feilhaber has a nice run along the endline but can't keep the ball in the play.
51: End-to-end stuff here. Gotta think that favors Brazil. U.S. can't sit back, but they can't get too stretched either.
52: Better from the US. Defend well against Robinho and then try to break.
53: US break again, Davies wide to Dempsey who can't control and the Brazilians break. A wasted counter.
54: Foul called on Feilhaber against Kaka. Jozy clears it well, but Brazil keep s possession and try a through ball to Fabiano that's too long.
55: Kaka earns another free kick against Feilhaber around 30 yards out. All the calls going the Brazilians' way. Freekick into the wall and then up in the air, but foul called and the US get a freekick in the box. US needs to pull it together here.
58: Brazil with more pretty passing, Maicon crosses from the corner but Timmy gathers. Then a last-minute tackle from Spector against Kaka for a corner. Kaka isn't treating this like an exhibition. And one more great save by Howard on a header by Lucio and then Silva kicks the ball out of play. Nervy, nervy stuff!
60: OH MY! Brazil thought they had the equalizer. Kaka with a freeheader on a corner, Howard just saves and keeps the ball outside the goal mouth. Oh boy on the replay, that looked like a goal.
62: Harkes and JP with the partisan commentary, but that was a shocking call and the Americans are very, very lucky. Howard entirely within the goal and blocked the goal up to the bar.
64: Harkes says that Lucio was definitely offsides when it looked pretty close to me. No matter, Brazil keep pressing. Maybe the Alamo really was the right analogy?
65: Davies breaks and then smartly holds the ball up so the Americans can get a breather. Lando with a nice long shot that forces a good save from Cesar. Americans with rare sustained offense here. Oh and Dempsey with another good long shot! Much better.
66: Here comes the cavalry: Santos off, Dani Alves on. Ramires off, Elano on. Brazil clears the corner and immediately get back on offense.
68: Fabiano is very unhappy about earning a 50-50 foul against Demerit. But the Brazilians get the ball back easily and are back on offense.
69: Americans really need to maintain possession. Meanwhile, Lucio earns a yellow card for dissent.
71: Demerit with a good clearance, the US immediately give up the ball and Howard just barely gets the ball away from Fabiano. US seem totally over-awed here. Just slow things down and keep the damned ball!
72: Dani Alves' first touch is to sky the ball well out of play. A rare breather.
73: Davies takes on four defenders, beats three of them but not the fourth. Hey Bradley, how about some fresh legs here?
74: U.S. makes another good move but it's snuffed out and Brazil comes back the other way....
74 GOAL BRAZIL 2-2 Fabiano: Long coming and deserved. Kaka beats Spector, crossed the ball into the box. First shot comes off the crossbar but Fabiano is righ there to head the ball into the net.
75: Bornstein and Kliejstan on, Jozy off... ESPN won't tell me who else came off.
76: Thanks ESPN, it was Feilhaber off.
78: Kaka with a shot that goes wide. He's easily been the best man on the pitch. Melo with a dangerous jumping challenge that takes out Donovan. Very lucky not to get a second yellow.
79: Cesar makes a good grab on the long freekick from Donovan. Americans still look tired and Brazil still look like they're the more likely to score.
81: Bornstein with a long shot after two giveaways, but not troubling Cesar.
83: More good play from Kaka and Robinho, whose shot looks good but goes wide. Going the other way, Davies goes down easily in the box but the ref isn't impressed.
???: ESPN has dropped the clock from the screen so no idea how much time is left! More last-ditch defending from the Americans. Demerit makes a good clearance.
85: GOAL LUCIO. BRAZIL 3-2: Good header off the corner. U.S. look gassed and Brazil deserve to take the lead, especially with the non-call on the earlier goal.
88: Americans earn a corner. Last sub, Casey for Clark. Good effort by Onyewu but he heads the ball just over the crossbar.
89: Harkes and JP are already spinning the positive. I know Brazil are world class and we should be happy to be here, but Bradley still sucks. U.S. came out in this half totally unprepared, and wound up looking totally deflated after they gave up the first goal. That's on the coach, plan and simple.
91: 3 extra minutes. Casey is the only player for the U.S. looking like he thinks the Americans can get the equalizer.
92: Kljestan should've never been brought on. No touch, no poise. Dani Alves skies the ball out of play.
TWEET TWEET TWEET Brazil 3, USA 2: What a disappointing end to what has been a remarkable tournament for the U.S. The Americans positively crumpled in the second half. Brazil were the deserved winners. Whatever Bradley told the team in the lockerroom -- well, it didn't work. Bringing on Kljestan was a mistake. Time to digest what just happened this past week. Lots and lots to mull over.
Man of the match was Fabiano, who is also the golden boot winner of the tournament.
Hey everyone, chin up. Thanks for joining us for our Confederations Cup coverage! Sorry the ending wasn't the Cinderella storybook we were hoping for! Now, go out and enjoy the rest of your weekend.