By Aaron Levine
We start by putting our spotlight on what felt like the most devastating tie in our country’s history in the World Cup.
And when we recover from doubling over and throwing up – we can focus on the big picture.
This is a World Cup that Team USA can legitimately win.
Just imagine the headlines if the US had hung on for just another ten seconds earlier today. They would’ve been the first team to advance out of the Group of Death….eliminating the fourth-ranked team in the world in the process. It would’ve rivaled the best comeback in USA Soccer history – and most importantly, would have caught the attention of everyone around the world.
But there’s an even better way to raise eyebrows. And it’s to win the whole freaking thing.
One look outside Fuel Bar this afternoon – or one look on Twitter or Facebook – was all anyone needed to realize that the popularity of soccer in the United States is at an all-time high. And it’s time that the national team’s performance becomes reflective of that growing support – something they’ve started to prove in this year’s World Cup, despite their late collapse earlier today.
Odds are – barring an embarrassing loss to Germany on Thursday – that the U.S. will advance to the Round of 16. Odds are – that they’ll have a winnable game in the knockout round against Belgium or Algeria.
Top-ranked Spain is already out. England is too. Second-ranked Germany will be on the opposite side of the bracket. Third-ranked Brazil will likely be too. Fourth-ranked Portugal likely won’t be there next week either.
Must-win matches won’t come until then. The crescendo didn’t need to come today – it needs to come in the next couple weeks.
As impressive as Major League Soccer has become in terms of luring both national and international talent, we get one chance – just one chance – every four years on the world stage. The U.S. took a top-five team to the brink of elimination today, and showed it has the firepower to match-up against the world’s best. Now, it’s a matter of beating the world’s best when everything is on the line.
We can all believe that we will win. We can all believe that we’ll advance to the next round.
Now it’s time for the guys on the field – to take that next step forward – when it counts the most.