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Clint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey

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What's this?Please select....Baseball TicketsNBA TicketsNFL TicketsNASCAR TicketsWWE TicketsGolf TicketsTennis Tickets Old Spain returns in loss to US at Confed CupPosted | Comment | Recommend E-mail | Save | Print | By Paul Logothetis, AP Sports WriterBLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa — For the first time in nearly three years, Spain's normally potent attack couldn't pick apart an opponent and ended up on the losing end.The United States halted Spain's rewriting of football's records book on Wednesday with a 2-0 semifinal victory at the Confederations Cup that snapped the European champion's record winning streak at 15 games.Jozy Altidore took advantage of Spain's lethargic defense for a first-half goal and goalkeeper Tim Howard made a number of outstanding saves in the second half before Clint Dempsey sealed the Americans' first appearance in a major final.One year after an outstanding European Championship win that seemed to remove the perennial underachiever tag, Spain returned to earth with its first loss since November 2006, a span of 35 matches that only Brazil's 1993-96 team can match."This is an accident, a little step backward," Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said.

"We have to look forward with optimism."In near freezing conditions at the Free State Stadium, Spain outshot the Americans 29-9 but couldn't break through the stifling defense."The difference between them and Spain is that they scored two goals and we couldn't score with 10-12 shots on goal," Spain striker Fernando Torres said.

"When you shoot too many times on target and you see the ball is not getting in you feel frustrated.

You can't always play good and tonight was a disappointing night, for sure."The United States backline often lunged to block many chances, which had to come from the wings with the Americans clogging up the midfield, where Spain's attack comes from."We had to pick our poison at times because they can do whatever they want with the ball," Howard said.

"We said, 'You're not going to go through us.

You're going to have to go around us."'While the American defense excelled, Spain conceded for the first time in five games after blunders by fullbacks Joan Capdevila and Sergio Ramos.

Spain last conceded two goals in a 3-2 win over Greece on the way to last year's Euro 2008 victory."Everything," Capdevila said about what went wrong.

"A streak is over, and we have to start from zero.

This sobers us up."With a potential final against Brazil beckoning, Spain may have overlooked an opponent it had never lost to in three matches, especially after its previous four wins had come against inferior opponents."I hate to classify it that way," Del Bosque said.

"But certainly FIFA's ranking shows we're first and that's an objective number."Although Spain will remain in the record books, a second major trophy could have put those who doubted Spain's credentials as one of the best at ease.

It will now play either Brazil or South Africa for third place on Sunday."We hope it works to help us and that we learn from the errors," Torres said.

"Now we'll go out looking to win the third place, which we'll play like a final."Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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