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U.S. men's soccer team rises in stature

June 29, 2009 |  5:11 pm

Landon The trophy cabinet may still be empty, but the U.S. men's soccer team has finally arrived on the world scene.

The Americans might not be expected to win international tournaments in future—few teams are—but they will certainly be expected to progress to the later stages.

That is a small but significant shift in status.

With two impressive results, they have gone from novelty act to, if not the main event, certainly top of the undercard.

“They are now a bit more confident about their capacity on the world stage,” said French World Cup winner Marcel Desailly. “They have some good players and have shown that when you play tight and strong, then you can achieve something. I can see some disappointment on the players’ faces, but c’mon, it was Brazil in front of you.”

Traditionally, American squads have traveled to international tournaments with little more than hope.

In a year’s time, assuming all goes well in the remainder of the qualification process, Team USA will return to South Africa with more than hope; it will travel with expectation too.

As much as it might pain the rest of the world to admit, the United States is now a force to be reckoned with—even at the highest levels of soccer.

-- Alex Dimond

Photo: Landon Donovan, right, and Clint Dempsey celebrate after scoring against Brazil in the Confederations Cup final on Sunday. Credit: Oliver Weiken / EPA

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