The No. 1 best outcome for US Soccer in their can't-possibly-win Confed Cup final with Brazil was achieved:
People were talking about (or watching) US Soccer. (And it wasn't even the World Cup.) It leads today's SN column.
A win over Brazil would have been nice, but it was not a necessary condition for this to work out as well as possible for the U.S.
3-0/3-0 was a fluke. Beating Spain was huge -- a radar-hitting achievement, but still setting up "Well, we're going to get KILLED by Brazil."
To spend that glorious half not just keeping up with Brazil -- but beating them at their own game -- was a remarkable moment.
If nothing else, it likely increased US fan interest for the team's fortunes in the World Cup next year. And that's the most important thing.
But it also has a downside: Before 3-0/3-0, I would say that fans had zero expectations the US would get out of the group round of the World Cup.
After Spain, I think fans should have had expectations that we will advance to the World Cup knockout round.
After Brazil, there will be no excuse if we don't make it at least to the quarters -- that's an awful lot of pressure, where "anything-but-quarters" will be viewed as a failure.
But you know what? That's progress. Huge progress. New, higher expectations are a step in the right direction.
More you'll find in today's column:
*Why the Knicks don't need (and shouldn't want) Rubio.
*Mo Rivera: Best closer ever?
*Shaq to Blazers nixed? What about Odom?
*Whose return is more important to their team: Kazmir or Manny?
Complete column here. More later.