The score was 0-0. The ref raised the sign indicating 4 min of extra time. The US team has wasted chances all day and all tournament. They played both sloppy defense and potent attacking. But it was all over. The US had blown its chance. It was the easiest group in its history. I could hear all the naysayers talking on ESPN’s PTI and other radio shows. We just suck at soccer. You couldn’t advance ahead of Slovenia – it’s the size of New Jersey!? You couldn’t beat Algeria?. The ref system is stupid, when’s the NFL start?. Tim Howard recalls his though when the 90th minute came, saying:
I just thought the crazy thing is we could be on a plane tomorrow. It didn’t mean anything in the game, but I didn’t want to go home. I was kind of apprehensive about losing.
All the progress US Soccer had made over the past 8 to 20 years with the introduction of an MLS team, a quarterfinal finish in 2002 and the beginning of players playing successfully in Europe would all be for naught with a loss and elimination. It would be the ultimate disappointment and I could tell the American public would once again sour on the sport. I would dredding hearing Chuck Klosterman and Tony Kornheiser talk about how we suck and will forever suck at the world’s game.
But then the exact opposite happens. Three minutes from going home, we score. A fraction from elimination and we become champions setting a record for the fewest total minutes that a World Cup group winner had been leading in its first three games: a grand total of two minutes.
Not only am i happy to watch the US play this Saturday in the 2nd round but i’m happy for soccer in America. For the first time since i can remember am i hearing people talk about what an exciting and fun sport it is. People are beginning to understand why the rest of the world loves it. This game will directly lead to future successes on the pitch in future World Cups. There’s an 8 year old right now who wants to score the next huge goal in 2032 and because of today’s victory he’s much more likely to stick with soccer than go to football or basketball. I couldn’t happier about all of it. As Landon Donvan said after the game,
I used to see this game we play as just a game,” said Donovan, “and I think I’ve realized particularly during this tournament that it’s more than that. It’s an opportunity to inspire. And not only inspire other people but inspire yourself and your teammates. I think tonight is going to do a lot more for me and other people than maybe we’ll realize.
I completely agree. Congrats guys. Good luck on Saturday