SANTANDER, Spain (AP) The U.S. soccer teams hopes a pair of losses against top European teams sharpened the Americans' play ahead of World Cup qualifying.
Xavi Hernandez spun through a crowd at the top of the penalty area, held off another marker and beat backup goalkeeper Brad Guzan with a low shot in the 79th minute, giving Spain a 1-0 exhibition victory over the United States on Wednesday night.
"Sometimes, playing the big European teams in Europe, we know that they're going to come at us, and we're forced to concede a bit of the field," U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis said. "We had a few chances, and we just need to do a little bit better job next time of taking advantage of those."
After starting the year 2-0-1, the Americans lost the opener of the two-game European trip 2-0 at England last week.
"In certain areas, I think there was improvement," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "In the first half, I certainly felt that we passed the ball better. In the second half, we had a very good chance early on but we lost a little bit of energy and Spain was able to capitalize."
Next up is Argentina, the world's top-ranked nation, on Sunday night at East Rutherford, N.J. The Americans start World Cup qualifying against Barbados on June 15 at Carson, Calif., then play at the Caribbean island on June 22.