United States president Barack Obama rang Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard after Team USA's second round World Cup exit, with the message "You did us proud".

The Stars and Stripes lost 2-1 to Belgium after extra time on Tuesday night despite a momentous performance against the highly-fancied European side.

A self-confessed soccer fan, Obama got in touch the team's captain Dempsey and goalkeeper Howard to send his thanks for their outstanding displays in Brazil, and the phone-call was then posted on YouTube.

Obama speaks

After acknowledging the pair, the President said: "I just wanted to call to say you guys did us proud. You did great, and as somebody whose first sport was soccer - although I was never that good - to see the way you captured the hearts and the imaginations of the whole country was unbelievable."

The sport has long been considered as a lesser priority in the States, but with international stars joining Major League Soccer the standard and interest in the division is growing all the time - something recognised by the 52-year-old.

"Obviously the sport's been growing steadily with so many kids playing it at a young age, but this is the first time where I really think you ended up having an entire country focused.

Tim Howard

Everton stopper Howard produced a man-of-the-match showing against the Red Devils, making an incredible 16 saves, and Obama warned the former Metrostars man that he could receive quite some reception on his return.

"Tim, I don't know how you're going to survive the mobs when you come back home. You're going to have to shave your beard so they don't know who you are!"

The Hawaii-born politician continued: "It wasn't just about how hard you played and how well you did, but you guys just carry yourselves with a lot of class. It makes people respect the sport, and you guys are real models for a lot of sportsmen here in the States."

Though Jurgen Klinsmann's men blew away most expectations by progressing through a group containing Germany, Portugal and Ghana, they fell at the same hurdle as they had four years earlier in South Africa.

But Obama was able to offer some words of encouragement.

"I know it's disappointing, but what you guys accomplished is really significant and it will make a difference to the country. Congratulate the coach and the other guys there, and I hope I get a chance to see you again at the White House soon."

The Columbia and Harvard graduate had been a vocal supporter throughout the tournament, as evidenced on his Twitter page and in pictures circulating of the President watching his nation's matches.

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