Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney previews the FIFA Confederations Cup Final between the USA and Brazil.
After conceding two goals in the first 20 minutes and losing Sacha Kljestan to a red card in the 57th (in their group play match versus each other), the USA did manage to hit the crossbar twice - Conor Casey and Benny Feilhaber - late in the match.
In terms of fatigue, the roles are reversed. Spain had the extra day of rest for the semifinal and though it dictated tempo at certain intervals, the Americans refused to buckle under a fierce onslaught in the final minutes. The USA will have the extra rest day for the final, though replacing the suspended Michael Bradley in central midfield will probably require a shift in tactics and possibly formation as well, with a version of a 4-5-1 among the possibilities.
If he has confidence in the Jozy Altidore-Charlie Davies tandem up front, Coach Bob Bradley can slot Feilhaber at outside mid and move Donovan into middle with Clark, though Feilhaber is best suited to a central role. That could move Clint Dempsey to the left, which is where he often plays for Fulham. Feilhaber last started for the USA one and a half years ago against South Africa in Johannesburg, the site of Sunday's final, and hasn't played a full match since the 2007 Copa America.
Another option is to start Dempsey at forward rather than midfield, but he's been effective coming from wide positions if more consistently dangerous up top. Even if the players ostensibly start out in a 4-5-1, in their best games there's been a lot of interchanging and interplay among the attackers, which if repeated will test Brazil and perhaps add to this unforgettable competition a second historic victory.