Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Breaking News

Sports column

July 3, 2014

U.S. loss on World Cup pitch was a win back home

The 2014 World Cup is over for America.

The United States was knocked out in the Round of 16 by Belgium, 2-1, in a match with extra time that was intoxicating and crushing.

The U.S. team was oh so close. That’s how sports go: One day you’re fighting for victory, the next you belong to history.

But, despite goalkeeper Tim Howard's remarkable performance, the game perhaps will be remembered not so much as a loss but for what it did for the future of the sport back home.

Did the U.S. team permanently plant soccer in the American psyche, or was our enthusiasm just a midsummer aberration? Were we watching history being made, or was it just a moment for histrionics?

It serves no purpose to offer a quick answer. But there did seem to be something different about our country’s reaction to a game whose provenance long belonged to those living “over there." For once, it seemed, U.S. fans were the ones adopting the established cultural and social ways of others, rather than exporting theirs to faraway lands.

For me, even at an advanced age and a soccer novice, watching was a strange experience. Probably like many others, I got excited by the fierce competition, even though I knew so little about the game, its strategies, rules or players. Surprisingly, not understanding what it means to be offsides or how substitutions work didn't keep me or other newcomers from enjoying the game.

Certainly nationalism was a big contributor to the crowds and interest. It was refreshing to see Americans rallying instead of squaring off politically.

It seemed easier to accept the free-spirit practice of face painting and wearing colorful garb, long practiced by supporters of other countries’ teams. And, most definitely, the U.S. fans' rhythmic chant of “I believe that we will win …” -- borrowed from the bleachers at the U.S. Naval Academy -- was a classic. The World Cup was pure fun.

Text Only
Sports column
Local Sports
Columns
Facebook
NDN Video
Cristiano Ronaldo -- TEAMING UP WITH LIL WAYNE ... Rapper Starting Sports Management Biz McNabb: Two games is not acceptable for me Ortiz, Price Feud Is Upsetting To Children - @TheBuzzeronFOX MLB Trade Deadline Talk: Price, Stanton, Kemp Tony Romo will be a full-go for camp Teammate's Advice For Johnny Manziel & Josh Gordon - @TheBuzzeronFox Helfrich praises Mariota's commitment to improve World Cup Hero Mario Gotze -- HALF-NAKED MUD BATH ... With Hot Model GF RG3 answers critics, grateful for coaches' support Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent First impressions of Giants' new up-tempo offense Athletic Gaines: Where LeSean McCoy, Kenjon Barner, and more prepare for NFL season Denver Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen Resigns Control Sterling says he's not trying to block Clippers sale Jack White's Cub Face Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Eli, Giants learning new offense How Emmanuel Mudiay Ended Up in China Selig: MLB 'more popular today than ever' Boy With Life-Threatening Tumor Gets Wish To Visit PNC Park, Meet Cutch