RUSTENBURG, South Africa - On the verge of elimination and facing long odds, the United States came up with its best performance at a major international tournament in seven years and an improbable semifinal berth at the Confederations Cup.
Charlie Davies scored in the first half, and Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey added goals in the final half-hour to lead the United States to a 3-0 victory over Egypt yesterday.
To reach the semifinals, the Americans needed to beat Egypt by at least three goals while the Italians lost to Brazil by at least three. That's exactly what happened, as Brazil defeated Italy, 3-0.
Now it's on to a semifinal matchup Wednesday with European champion Spain, unbeaten in its last 35 matches and the world's No. 2-ranked team.
"All of the critics in America who said we were no good after losing to Italy and Brazil, let's see what they say now," Bradley said.
Since advancing to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, the U.S. team had been knocked out of the first round of the 2003 Confederations Cup, the 2006 World Cup, and the 2007 Copa America.
"Big surprise, but we knew we were capable of this," Landon Donovan said. "Now we have a difficult game ahead of us and a very big match."
The Americans lost to Spain, 1-0, in an exhibition at Santander last year.
"We know the way they can move the ball and keep possession," said U.S. coach Bob Bradley, Michael's father. "We played a good first half but they wore us down in the second half and it didn't feel too good."
Brazil (3-0) won Group B with nine points and plays Thursday against host South Africa. While the United States, Italy and Egypt all finished at 1-2, the Americans scored four goals and allowed six. Italy also had a minus-2 goal difference but scored only three goals; Egypt was minus-3.