Spector's national pride

Fresh from impressing the world at the FIFA Confederations Cup, Jonathan Spector is feeling positive about the future.

The 23-year-old was an ever-present as the United States reached the final in South Africa, leading Brazil 2-0 before falling to a heroic 3-2 defeat in Johannesburg.

Spector impressed at both ends of the pitch, defending resolutely against the likes of Fernando Torres, Robinho, Kaka and Luca Toni, while also finding time to set-up two goals for US team-mate Clint Dempsey.

Following his international exertions, the right-back has returned to his home city of Chicago for a well-earned rest before coming back to Europe for West Ham United's pre-season tour to Austria.

"We were delighted to reach the final. I don't think many people would have thought we would get there in the first place. it was a great achievement, but we worked hard and we went out there to try and win it," said Spector.

The US shocked the world by recovering from losing their opening two group matches to Brazil and Italy to defeat African Cup of Nations winners Egypt and European champions Spain to reach the final.

There, despite taking an early two-goal lead against the five-times FIFA World Cup winners, Brazil fought back to snatch the title from the Americans.

"We knew it was going to be tough, because they are such a fantastic team and we knew this at close hand after meeting them in the group stages," Spector added. "But we had got to final on our own merit and were determined to go out there and try to win it.

"We had a great start, there was no better way of beginning the match like we did than taking a two-goal lead and we were confident in our play. We definitely had the momentum in that half.

"We knew that they would come out in the second half attacking more, which they did and we spent most of this time defending, but it was a case of making sure we kept absorbing the pressure and trying to create opportunities.

"They scored and then they had the momentum, which pushed them on and it was disappointing because we had started so terrifically. But we can still be proud of our achievements, for sure."

Spector earned rave reviews at home and abroad for his tenacious displays in South Africa, standing up to some of the world's best players.

"Brazil have seven or eight players who can hurt you at any one time, which proved to be the difference and so it then was maybe a little too much at the end," he said. "They deserved to win, but we can take a lot from it, how we played, what we were able to do in trying to take our game to them. The tournament as a whole was a great experience."

After starting and finishing all five of his country's matches at the Confederations Cup and travelling to the country in September 2007 to take part in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup, Spector is desperate to return to South Africa for a third time for next summer's World Cup finals.

The US sit second in the CONCACAF final qualifying round table, with the top-three finishers reaching the World Cup and the fourth-placed team facing a play-off against the fifth-placed side in the South American qualifiers.

"The playing conditions, the different cities, the atmosphere and the schedules, although the World Cup will be on a bigger scale, gave me a good insight," said Spector.

"We played there in 2007 as well and I think it can give you a little bit of a mental edge, knowing what to expect. The crowds are lively and I think going by the response for this tournament, it will be really something for the World Cup."