It...is all over!. In a deflating moment spurred on by the referee's whistle in extra time, I had a brief moment in hearing the UFC's play-by-play man, Mike Goldberg, in my mind utter his famous line marking the end of the United States 2014 World Cup run. In an utterly fantastic game filled with tons of drama, Belgium will move on to play Argentina while our men are sure to return home to a warm welcome.
After a 1-2-1 record in Brazil, Team USA didn't exactly set the tournament on fire with it's play. To be honest, as I type these words I am still in disbelief that they made it out of group play. Spare me the "I believe chant...". I was rooting for Team USA (along with England, of course), and in reality, how could anyone truly think they would? The "Group of Death", as group "G" was immediately nicknamed on December 6th during the World Cup drawing, really didn't look friendly, or at the very least, promising for the United States to escape from.
Especially, when every game played out like the field was on an axis with the USA's goal always downward. Tim Howard and the United States back line constantly and consistently walked the proverbial World Cup tightrope by keeping games close enough for them to at the very least, have a chance. And a chance is all they needed after defeating our annoying World Cup nemesis, Ghana. Hey, a tie here against Portugal, and a clenched fist full of hope there in maintaining goal differential against Germany, and somehow we all exhaled collectively as the United States moved on. And yes, I still can't believe it.
Yesterday, we saw a bit of the same poor possession play by the USA against Belgium. Lots of shots on goals were sent at Tim Howard, who at times looked as if he punched in a cheat code for himself before the game started. Up, up, down, down, left, down, right, up, X! Super Goalkeeper activated! However, as was the case for this entire tournament (at least until then), the USA fought back, and at critical times, when the equalizing score felt like it was just sheer moments away, so close you could almost see the future playing out before it happens, you felt as if this team had destiny on it's side. As if this unreal ride would continue. Of course, until that final whistle was blown.
So, even with mediocre talent, as Klinsmann told us all in the beginning, the effort was very much appreciated from this squad who for a couple of weeks brought this nation together - which is always cool. Oh, so cool. And shockingly, it brought this nation together for football, you know, the real version. The version we've been neglecting, shunning, and downplaying for years now.
|Soccer fever gripping the nation|
As an American, but one with so many ties and cultural grounded-ness overseas, it was great to see our nation get excited for the World Cup. I loved that we cared, and yes, that this wonderful sport of football, or soccer, or whatever you want to call it, has a place within our borders. Sure, the other game of football will begin soon, and most of our nation will jump back to the only religion we all share and see eye to eye on in that of touchdowns and first downs. However, for two weeks -TWO GLORIOUS WEEKS - we all got to see, learn, and experience a great game.
We didn't bring home the gold World Cup trophy, but as always, there is a silver lining. With a healthy MLS league now not only showcasing talent from around the world, but also developing young talent, talent we saw in this very World Cup, its a foundation to build upon. And also, with tons of Premier League games, UEFA games, and other international soccer TV at our easy disposal, really just a click away on our local channels, there is a great foundation.
Whether you consider yourself a football junkie, a casual fan, a new fan from these two past weeks, or even someone who still finds the sport boring, or dare I say, "un-American" (Ann Coulter is ridiculous by the way), you absolutely cannot deny the presence and passion that existed these past two weeks.
So yes, "It...is all over." However, regardless of the outcome on the field, I truly believe USA Soccer accomplished a big time goal in Brazil.
Come on home, boys. Job well done.