U.S. sees progress after loss to Brazil


MALDONADO, Uruguay -- In soccer, it's possible to be slaughtered 1-0.

But that score also can be the result of a tightly played game between well-matched teams. And that explains why the U.S. soccer team walked away from Thursday night's loss to world champion Brazil feeling it had proved something.

hTC Little more than a year ago, Brazil beat the U.S. by the same score in the 1994 World Cup.

Yet in Thursday's America Cup semifinal, "The game was there for the taking -- it indicates how far we've come," said forward Eric Wynalda, the team's leading scorer.

L "As far as we're concerned, we got killed in the World Cup."

Added defender Alexi Lalas: "After the game, we said we still have a long way to go. After last night, we said we have a way to go -- but it's not nearly so far."

The 1994 team tried to shut down the Brazilians, concentrating on defense. A year later, the Americans forced the issue -- even controlling the ball for much of the second half.

"Now, with the experience we have overseas, the mentality of this team is to go forward, to win," said interim coach Steve Sampson, who many observers believe will be named permanent coach as a result of the team's play here and in the recent U.S. Cup tournament. "The players [Thursday] night didn't feel that at least they had survived against Brazil -- they were disappointed."

Regardless of the outcome of today's third-place match against Colombia, the United States can bask in its best performance since the 1930 World Cup. And the Americans' 3-0 victory over Argentina was among their most important in years.

"We have to continue to get victories such as you saw against teams that are ranked from 5 to 20," Sampson said.

"The exceptions are the Brazilians, the Germans, the Argentines, and the key there is to show we can play with them and occasionally beat them."

In this year's America Cup, they did exactly that.

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