USA exit fails to dim enthusiasm for sport in long shadow of baseball and gridiron

The performances by this side in Brazil have impressed at home and abroad

USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann: “Turns out, Jurgen Klinsmann was correct after all. The US was not ready to win it all. Not even close,” conceded Mike Tierney in the Los Angeles Times

USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann: “Turns out, Jurgen Klinsmann was correct after all. The US was not ready to win it all. Not even close,” conceded Mike Tierney in the Los Angeles Times

Thu, Jul 3, 2014, 07:00

“End of The World” was how the front page of the New York Daily News apocalyptically reported Team USA’s dramatic extra-time elimination from the World Cup at the hands of Belgium last night.

Elsewhere however, despite the defeat the country’s press were more upbeat about the end of a campaign that garnered unprecedented enthusiasm for the sport in the land of gridiron and baseball.

“US Dream Ends With Nobel Effort” ran the Miami Herald. “Americans leave much to savour in 2-1 exit from the World Cup” declared the Boston Globe front page headline.

“This is why the game has the planet in thrall for one month every four years,” wrote the Globe’s John Powers. “This is why billions of television sets are switched on . . . How many people in this country didn’t know that the United States men’s soccer team was playing Belgium in the World Cup on Tuesday afternoon? Anyone who didn’t know soon after the final whistle how close Uncle Sam’s nephews came to pulling off a comeback for the ages in Salvador?”

Across the US media there is recognition that his year’s tournament has finally broken through the country’s longstanding resistance to what was long seen as the most un-American of sports.

“For a few weeks, this American outfit turned this into the Summer of Soccer in the United States, drawing the biggest US TV audiences ever for the sport and uniting Americans behind a common cause both in Brazil and in giant public viewing parties across the country,” eulogised Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl. “The US advanced from perhaps the tournament’s most difficult group and at times showed a soccer IQ and possession game that made the world take notice.”

Such optimism it must be said is all relative in a land where many still remain to be convinced of the game’s merits.

“Turns out, Jurgen Klinsmann was correct after all. The US was not ready to win it all. Not even close,” conceded Mike Tierney in the Los Angeles Times. “American soccer remains a few rungs below the world’s elite programs, a reality that has been evident to Klinsmann, who hails from one of them . . . The collective skill set of the American team, compared to those from countries where an infant’s crib is stocked with a pacifier and a dimpled ball, is lacking.”

There was also huge praise for national hero Tim Howard.

“Petition begun to rename Reagan Airport after Tim Howard – Seriously” noted the Chicago Tribune on a campaign to force the White House into renaming the capital’s main airport.

“The goalkeeper stood in front of a Belgian firing squad for 120-plus minutes Tuesday, recording 16 saves, many of them heart-stopping, more than any World Cup goalkeeper since tournament officials began tracking such stats nearly a half-century ago,” wrote the Washington Post’s Rick Maese.

In the US it seems this World Cup has really made an impression.

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