The USMNT World Cup Non-Eulogy
Following the loss to Belgium Tuesday in the first knockout round of the World Cup, many feel the need to eulogize the USMNT.
Eulogies are sad speeches for the dead. I’m not going to get sadder for a team that played tougher the more it got hit.
Belgium beat the U.S. 2-1 in the Round of 16 in Brazil. But, the Americans lost in the most American way possible. They lost like American underdogs. They were under-gunned and over-matched, but they kept fighting.
From George Washington’s army to the Band of Brothers to Rocky Balboa … America has always embraced the self-made image of the underdog.
While Belgium kept sending shot after shot towards Tim Howard, I could see Rocky taking body blows in his American flag shorts. I hoped for Rocky IV and not Rocky I. I hoped for Boise State and not Utah. I hoped for the Battle of New Orleans and not the Battle of the Alamo.
For 90 minutes, the defensive line looked porous.
For 90 minutes, the lack of a striker meant the U.S. could put no pressure on the Belgians.
For 90 minutes, Tim Howard put on a record setting performance for the ages.
For 90 minutes, the American wall held.
In extra time, the Belgian team finally broke the tie. Blood was finally drawn. The U.S. team was finally able to get off the ropes and throw some quality punches. Hope was alive. The spirit of 1776 and the Miracle on Ice was finally showing some legs. Despite a second Belgian goal, the Americans never gave up.
All it would have taken was one of the many close U.S. chances in the waning minutes to find the back of the net and we would have been talking about American resolve and not American failure.
We lost the game.
We didn’t lose heart.
And, sure the Americans could state a list of excuses.
Tired after the longest travel schedule of any team.
Broken noses and torn hammies leaving the team without a striker.
Three teams ranked in the top 11. All ranked above the Americans.
This was a team that was written off when the group draw was made. A single point was expected.
I choose to look at how much the team beat expectations and not how they failed to do better than any team in the past 12 years. While I’m at it, let me point out that the Americans went further than previous champions Spain, England and Italy.
I choose to look to Russia 2018.
I choose to look at the progress the team has made in the past four years.
I choose to look at the hope.
And, there is hope. This is a team that finally embraced Jurgen Klinsman’s team-oriented style of play. This is a team that finally beat its nemesis, Ghana. This is a team that was one perfect cross from the best player in world in the final twelve seconds of a game from winning the "Group of Death."
Most importantly, this is a team that saw a goal in the final minutes from Julian Green, the guy who took Landon Donovan’s roster spot.
Green, DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks will be back in 2018. Each were major contributors in the success the U.S. showed in Brazil.
So, buy your tickets for World Cup ’18, American Outlaws.
And long live Tim Howard… who is equal parts bald eagle, Rocky Mountains and Teddy freaking Roosevelt.
This isn’t a eulogy. This is a promise of more.
Brian Reddoch is a CraveOnline reporter and rabid fan of all teams Seattle. You can follow him on Twitter @ReddReddoch or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.
Photo Credit: Getty