When Landon Donovan lead the American Outlaws on their 2010 run in the World Cup people were paying attention but it was mainly just soccer enthusiasts watching. It appears now though, that the excitement of the 2010 World Cup set the framework for soccer to grow over the last four years.
Clearly the big winner of World Cup 2014 was Germany; a source of great pride for the fans and the country. But there were a few other winners from the event that have earned more than a little recognition as well.
The future of soccer is brighter this summer. For the first time we can say with confidence that professional soccer is here to stay, and that Klinsmann's troops have become America's Team.
For those of you who feel compelled to air your rather dated and utterly predictable anti-soccer sentiments during this World Cup, may I take a moment to remind you of a few salient points...
It is no longer the case that the lowest common denominator is the only segment of the population that gets what they want. ESPN can attest to this; the U.S.-Germany tilt had more viewers watching on streaming media than the Super Bowl.
Soccer haters should get a red card. Clearly, the sport is emerging in this country.
I won't pretend I'm a true soccer fan, but I love the World Cup. It has to do with country versus country, and how much it means to the players and fans of those countries. Having been fortunate enough to have visited several foreign countries, my method of choosing who to root for is quite simple.
Anyone who has ever taken an Economics class knows that there is only one universal truth; we all respond to incentives. To remove flopping you need to remove the incentive to flop.
When John Brooks etched his name into American sports history Monday night with a game-winning header to beat Ghana 2-1, it proved once again why the World Cup matters so much. Because what didn't matter was the fact that the 21-year-old had virtually no international experience or that his coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, was criticized for even including him on the 30-man roster. And what mattered even less was that when Brooks made the final 23-man roster, it meant that Landon Donovan, the most decorated U.S. player ever, would not be going to Brazil.
The two Group G underdogs should be looking for a win and three points with matches looming against Portugal and Germany. Here's what you can expect from the teams as play unfolds.
Anyone with even a casual interest in soccer, or international culture and relations, or in following entertaining grudge match showdowns, is getting ready.
USA! USA! -- yes, of course, but how to choose a second team to root for at the World Cup?
The major news of the announcement was the shock exclusion of Landon Donovan, the team's all-time leader in goals and assists. But the move was not the only surprise in the final round of roster cuts, which, considered together, paint a puzzling picture of the manager's decision-making.
For very different reasons, the impending World Cup will be huge for both the German and American teams that will actually confront each other in the third game of the first round in a group rightly given the sobriquet "Group of Death."
The U.S. doesn't need a result from this particularly meaningless match, but they need clarity, and they need confidence-building performances that will demand not just inclusion in the traveling party but selection in the starting 11.
In its current state, the Mexican national team will be going on a month-long vacation with some scheduled games while there. They are not contenders for the title.