Johannesburg, South Africa Clint Dempsey sobbed as the Americans walked up to get their second-place medals, unable to hide the pain and the disappointment any longer.
The euphoria of knocking off Spain last week dissolved Sunday in the Confederations Cup final when Brazil unleashed its “Beautiful Game.”
After dominating the five-time World Cup champions in the first half, the Americans were powerless as Brazil scored three goals in the final 45 minutes to rally for a 3-2 win.
“We’re at the point where we don’t want respect, we want to win,” said Landon Donovan, whose goal in the 27th minute gave the United States a 2-0 lead. “There’s no guarantee we ever get back to a final game like this, so it’s disappointing.”
Luis Fabiano scored twice for Brazil, and Lucio added the third in the 84th minute to give Brazil its second straight Confederations Cup title and third overall. The American men fell short in their first final of a FIFA tournament, but the experience was invaluable.
Almost sure to qualify for next year’s World Cup, also in South Africa, the Americans certainly saw the benefits of playing this game. What hurt was the way they lost it.
“We continue to try and move ourselves forward, and playing these kind of games only helps,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “But it still feels pretty lousy to let this one get away.”
In the third-place match, Spain fought back to beat host South Africa, 3-2, after extra time in Rustenburg.
The United States has beaten Brazil once in 15 games, and it was just 10 days ago that the Brazilians hung a 3-0 rout on the Americans in group play of the tournament that had the critics piling on and some calling for Bradley’s job.
Just 10 minutes into the game, Jonathan Spector sprinted down the right side and sent a low cross into the area. Dempsey, who had plenty of room to maneuver, raised his right leg and put just enough of a touch on the ball to alter the direction and send it past a diving Julio Cesar.
Dempsey, who also scored in the 2-0 shocker over top-ranked Spain in the semifinals, finished the tournament with three goals and was awarded the Bronze Ball.
Donovan then got possession at his own end shortly after Maicon had sent in a corner for Brazil from the right. The United States midfielder ran up the middle, passed to Charlie Davies and then reclaimed the ball from his teammate before beating Julio Cesar.
Perry takes Travelers title
Cromwell, Conn. — There was no Masters-style meltdown Sunday for Kenny Perry.
Perry shot 63 to finish with a tournament-record 258 (22 under par) and win the Travelers Championship by three strokes over Paul Goydos and David Toms, two other golfers in their 40s.
The 48-year old Perry, whose bogey-bogey finish at Augusta kept him from winning the Masters in April, tied a course record with a 61 Thursday and led after each of the first two rounds here. But, he trailed by a stroke to Goydos heading into the final round.
He responded by shooting a 32 on the front nine and was up by five strokes heading to the par-4 15th.
Goydos, 45, made a 20-foot eagle putt from the fringe on 15 and birdied 16. But he missed his birdie putt on 17 to the right.
Perry birdied 15, and put the tournament away by making birdie on 17 after hitting a 164-yard approach to within 8 feet.
Former Kansas University golfer Gary Woodland shot a final-round 69 and finished 3 under par.
Shin wins LPGA event
Rochester, N.Y. — Jiyai Shin picked up her fifth title in 11 months with a seven-stroke victory at the Wegmans LPGA. The 21-year-old South Korean shot a 1-under 71 to finish at 17-under 271.
Kristy McPherson and Yani Tseng each shot a 66, the day’s best score, to surge into a second-place tie at 10 under. One behind were rookie Stacy Lewis, Mika Miyazato and Haeji Kang.
Nielsen nets Champions win
Endicott, N.Y. — Lonnie Nielsen shot a 9-under to beat Fred Funk and Ronnie Black by three shots for his first Champions Tour victory of the year and second of his career.
Nielsen, who turns 56 today, finished at 21-under 195, a record for the tournament. That was three shots better than the mark set by 2008 winner Eduardo Romero. Funk (69) entered the final round with a three-shot lead over Nielsen, Romero (73), and Black (66).
Dougherty wins in Europe
Munich — Nick Dougherty shot a final-round 64 to win the BMW International Open by one stroke and claim the third European Tour victory of his career. The 27-year-old Englishman finished at 22-under 266, holding off Rafa Echenique by one stroke.
Ex-Chief in accident
Kansas City, Mo. — Richard Baldinger, a former lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs, was involved in a traffic accident that left a woman dead. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said Marilyn Walters, 61, of Grain Valley was killed when the car she was in collided with a car driven by the 49-year-old Baldinger. The accident happened about 2:15 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of U.S. 40 in Blue Springs.
The patrol said two people in Walters’ car were injured. Baldinger was not listed as injured.
Baldinger was an offensive lineman for the Chiefs from 1982-93. He also has worked as a television analyst. The Chiefs’ Web site said Baldinger would be handling sideline reports for preseason games.
Bills cool to Toronto
Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. — Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson is in no hurry to have his team play more than one regular-season game in Toronto.
Wilson told The Associated Press on Sunday he’d prefer waiting “two or three years” to determine whether the northern experiment is a success before he’d consider reworking the contract reached last year with Toronto-based Rogers Communications. Under the agreement which runs through 2012, the Bills will play one regular-season and three preseason games in Toronto.
Rogers officials have expressed interest in adding at least one regular-season game.
Wilson says he doesn’t know whether there will be another game there or not.
TRACK AND FIELD
Crawford takes 200 title
Eugene, Ore. — Shawn Crawford doesn’t have to feel bad about this medal. The sprinter who was awarded an Olympic medal he felt he didn’t deserve last year won a national title he most certainly does Sunday, blowing away the field in the 200-meter finals at U.S. track and field championships in a wind-aided time of 19.73 seconds.
Allyson Felix joined Crawford as America’s other 200-meter champion. A heavy favorite to win her fifth national title, Felix didn’t disappoint, finishing in 22.02 (also wind-aided) to edge out Muna Lee. Marshevet Hooker finished third.
Crawford blew away Charles Clark by .27 seconds to win his fourth national title.
Rice settles lawsuit
Houston — The family of a former Rice University football player who died during a workout has settled its lawsuit with the school and the NCAA. Dale Lloyd II died a day after he collapsed during a conditioning workout Sept. 24, 2006.
N.C. State LB injured
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina State linebacker Nate Irving has been charged with careless and reckless driving after a wreck that left him with a broken leg and a collapsed lung. State Highway Patrol spokesman Capt. Everett Clendenin said the one-vehicle wreck occurred about 4:40 a.m. Sunday.