Commonly referred to as “La Furia Roja” (The Red Fury), the Spanish national football team lived up to their nickname quite well in Saturday’s international friendly against the U.S. The defending World Cup champions showed their collective strength, as they cruised to a 4-0 victory over a short-handed U.S. side.
From the start of the match, it was obvious the U.S. would have a tough time keeping up with the speed and ingenuity of Spain. Within the first ten minutes, Spain had already laid an assault on the goal, and U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard was visibly frustrated with his team’s lack of defense.
It wasn’t long before his frustration turned to outright anger. Howard could be seen yelling at his teammates for letting Spain get shots on goal with relative ease. As is normal for a Spanish soccer squad, it controlled the midfield with short, precise passes that allowed for larger areas to open up for them. Spain capitalized on nearly every goal-scoring opportunity that presented itself, and at the conclusion of the first half it held a 3-0 advantage over the U.S.
Without some background on the circumstances that were in play Saturday, the final score could come as a shock to some.
Spain has been a very good team for some time now, but it is not invincible. In fact, it was this U.S team that ended Spain’s 35-game unbeaten streak with a 2-0 victory in the 2009 Confederations Cup. However, due to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, many key players from that U.S. side like Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Carlos Bocanegra were on the bench for the start of Saturday’s match. Dempsey and Bradley came on in the second half of the match, and were able to shore up the defense and only allow one additional goal.
The Gold Cup begins Sunday. It is a tournament composed of 16 teams from North and South America, as well as the Caribbean, that determines the champion of the region. Canada, Panama, and Guadeloupe are paired with the U.S. for the group stage. The U.S. will take on a solid Canadian squad Tuesday, and with the extra rest for some of the best U.S. players, it should be an easy victory for the U.S.