I Believe That We Made Progress

Though the USA Men’s National Team is headed home from the World Cup, it is not without a shimmer of hope and a large dose of pride.

From the outset the US was put into the “Group of Death” an assignment that by it’s very name gave the team an underdog tag. However, that underdog position proved to be of comfort for the USA.

First playing Ghana, the States had much to prove, being previously defeated by their opponent in the last two World Cups. Though the two teams have shared a history, this year’s outcome proved to be different. USA captain Clint Dempsey made sure his team’s fate would be different, scoring in the first minute of the game. Then, following a Ghana equalizer, sub John Brooks scored in the 86 minute to push America to victory. The three points gained would prove to be crucial in the group stage of the tournament.

Next the United States matched up against Portugal and arguably the greatest player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. With a 1-0 lead just minutes away from the final whistle, the States allowed a Ronaldo cross to turn into a headed goal, evening the game and forcing a draw. A victory would have propelled the US past the group stage, though a draw did not eliminate those chances.

Though the States next played Germany to a 1-0 loss in a less than impressive game, the team was still able to advance through the group stage on the backing of their edge in goal differential.

Playing in the knockout stage of the tournament the US would have to beat Belgium or head home. After 90 minutes was not enough for either America or Belgium to score, extra time was needed. Belgium took advantage of the extra 30 minutes, putting in two goals that seemed too much for the States to overcome. However, a late surge showed hope. 19-year-old Julian Green brought the US a goal closer with the first touch in his World Cup career. The US continued to pressure and pepper the Belgian defense. However, when the final whistle blew, America trailed 2-1, a deficit too steep even for the team that never thought they were dead.

At the commencement of the tournament, talk was focused on coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s plane ticket, and his less than optimistic comments on his team’s chances. Now, standing on the outside looking in, talk has turned to the future of American soccer, and promise held within it. The team’s run has pulsed soccer fever through many American’s veins, leaving them yearning for more. The world has noticed—if not been forced to notice—the potential behind the American game. Though the USA Men’s team is headed back home, it is not without much to hang their hat’s on.