The United States’ World Cup campaign was ended on Tuesday, after they lost 2-1 to Belgium in an extra-time thriller at the last-16 stage.
A round-of 16 exit is about what you’d expect considering the level of talent at Jurgen Klinnsmann’s disposal, yet considering the unlucky drawing that placed the United States in the “group of death,” it is fair to say that they over achieved. Kyle Beckerman, for example, was in the tournament longer than Cristiano Ronaldo.
There’s a lot to be proud of.
USA went out swinging like no other team who has exited this year’s tournament, playing with the kind of conviction and never-say-never spirit prevalent in American folklore. Tim Howard had perhaps the best single-game performance of any player in this year’s World Cup, breaking the record for most saves in a World Cup game with 14 shots blocked.
The younger players on the team showed tremendous potential, which sparks optimism for the future of the USMNT. Despite all of this, a U.S. exit inevitably means the temporary demise of football from mainstream U.S. culture until next World Cup.
The majority of Americans treat the World Cup the way the rest of the world treats the Olympics, as if it’s only purpose is to fulfill a short-term rush of national pride. Needless to say, this is not how the rest of the world treat the beautiful game.
For virtually every other country on the planet, football is a universal language that highlights the beauty of globalization – while companies like McDonalds embody its’ faults.
The way that American Football dominates national discussion in the United States, football ignites conversation across the globe. A stunning finish from Zlatan Ibrahimovic can spark a conversation between fans from a multitude of countries in a way that a Tom Brady comeback win can never stack up to.
By shunning the sport of soccer, the United States are isolating themselves from this global conversation – which is weird considering we just can’t shut up about sports.
If you spend any time at a vacation resort abroad that hosts tourists from a variety of countries, Americans are always isolated from the comradery created by discussing football.
Considering the United States' obvious love for the primitive rush that only sports can provide, it hard to pinpoint exactly why it has become so introverted in its sports culture.
The criticisms of soccer tend to be hypocritical, and often attack facets of the game that are also prevalent in American sports. A lot of Americans mocked the complicated manner in which the USA team made the round-of-16, pointing to the fact that they qualified despite losing to Germany.
They did not go through because they lost to Germany, they went through because they accumulated the most points in their group. It is odd that a country that have actively watched college football for years find this format troubling - Boise State won the most games but played against teams who the BCS have decided are subjectively bad, so they don’t play in the national championship…what?
Another popular criticism of soccer is that it is ‘slow’ or that there is ‘not enough action.’ While the intricacies of football may be an acquired taste, it is still bizarre to hear fans of American football, who watch 2 minutes of commercials for every 5 seconds of game action, to criticise a sport for lacking ‘action.’
That being said, there are legitimate fans of the sport in the United States. The American Outlaws have done a lot of great things to promote American participation in the world’s game, and have created some of the most impassioned fans of the tournament.
It’s just a shame that a lot of these temporary fans are going to miss the magic of the Champions League.
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