That’s all could really do when the final whistle blew in the Belgium game. We were beaten by a good team – a team that could’ve locked the game away earlier had Super Timmy Howard went into God Mode. But there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. 31 teams will be eliminated when this is all over. And if you’re one of them, what matter is the impression you make.
Unlike 2010, I watched just about every qualifier the USA played leading up to this World Cup. I saw what this team went through to get to play just 4 more games in Brazil. Every lineup. Every debut. Every audition. Every last chance. So to see them go home after losing against Belgium is a bummer, but there’s so much more to be happy about. The USMNT played every game with blood and thunder, never-say-die football. Always playing for each other. No diving. No shitty “gamesmanship.” Sometimes the USMNT isn’t studded with individuals talents, but it’s a team. And that’s something they do better better than just about any other team in the world.
After we were placed in the “Group of Death,” nobody gave us a chance of advancing to the knockout round. But we did. We exorcised the Ghana demons. We were seconds away from knocking Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo’s sculpted bronze ass out of the World Cup. And somehow, we made a loss feel like a win against Germany. 4 points. 4 glorious points to escape Death and do what nobody thought we could.
So I’d just like to take a second and address a few people off the top of my head:
- To Jürgen Klinsmann: Jürgen, you flawless tropical sunfish. I love you. Don’t ever change. I disagreed with many of your decisions, and I was wrong almost 100% of the time. I trusted you coming into this World Cup; I trust you even more now. You made football better as a player. Keep doing it as our manager.
- To the American Outlaws: Keep doing what you do. You rock. I’m not an AO member, but I can never watch a USA game without you.
- To Jermaine Jones: I’m sorry I ever doubted you. I’m sorry for all the times I dropped you from the lineup whenever I played with the USA in FIFA. You were heroic in this World Cup. A picture of you needs to be next to the definition of the phrase “busting your ass” (or whatever the German equivalent is). Your goal against Portugal? *mwah* Thank you for leaving it all on the field.
- To DaMarcus Beasley: 4 Worlds Cups! 4 World Cups in a USA shirt! You’re the man, Run-DMB. Thank you for all your service in the name of US Soccer.
- To Julian Green: Did you like your first World Cup? Good. Because now we need you to get better. Much better. You’re not getting a free ride anymore. You need to deliver. Thanks for the goal against Belgium – it helped us all believe again. Remember that feeling. Crave it. You saw what Jermaine did? That’s the benchmark of effort. We’ll see you in 2018.
- To everyone so sure the US would crash out of the group stage:
There’s probably more people I could write about. But I don’t have it in me. I’m still spent since Tuesday. Thanks for the ride, boys. You’re my national team, and you made me very proud once again.