Howard hoping USA have proved point

JOHANNESBURG - U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said he hoped the American performance at the Confederations Cup has proved his team could play on football's biggest stage.

"We hope we've opened some eyes and proven to some people we can play on a big stage," the Everton goalkeeper told reporters after the Americans lost 3-2 to Brazil in Sunday's final in Johannesburg.

"But without question it was exceedingly disappointing to lose," he added.

"Today was a tough challenge, one of the biggest and we almost had them," said defender Jay DeMerit after the U.S. let slip a 2-0 halftime lead to lose 3-2.

Landon Donovan, who scored his 40th international goal in the match, said his side had been overrun in the second half.

"It's Brazil! They are never going to lie down and they came wave after wave. We did make mistakes though and could have used the ball better. We gave it away too easily."

Donovan said the Americans were "disappointed but proud."

The U.S. lost their opening two games at the tournament but recovered in their final group game, a 3-0 win over Egypt which earned a semi-fina berth.

They then scored one of their biggest ever upsets by ending Spain's long-standing winning streak and came close to another shock score in the final.

"We've really grown as a team at this tournament and proven to ourselves, the coaches and the fans that we are a really good team and we are really looking forwards to the 2010 World Cup," said striker Charlie Davies.

Winning coach Dunga also paid tribute to the runners-up.

"Since the last World Cup they have become a very competitive team. All the players are very combatitive and difficult. Their side is tactically and physically strong," said Dunga after his side retained the Confederations Cup.