It was a tough loss for the American Outlaws as they fell in extra-time 2-1 to Belgium. Tim Howard was incredible, saving 16 shots, a World Cup Record in one game. But sadly it was not enough to send America through.
Though the journey is over for the USA, think about all the team has done over the past two World Cups and be proud of where this team is heading and where soccer is heading in this country.
In 2010 America was paired with England, Slovenia, and Algeria and won the group thanks to luck against England and a miracle goal against Algeria before being bounced by a last-second goal to Ghana. And most of America could not have cared less.
Four years later stadiums, parks, and bars across America were packed full of supporters cheering on America as they advanced through the “Group of Death.” Most analysts and writers wrote the US off and said they would be lucky to win a game. They did that and more; they advanced, something powerhouses Spain, Italy, England, and Portugal couldn’t say this year.
It’s tough losing. Americans hate losing at anything. Most people don’t believe in moral victories, myself included. But look at how far soccer has come in the US over the past four years alone. How a bunch of no-namers became household names overnight. Soccer completely overshadowed nearly every other sports headline across the country.
Soccer is growing in the US, plain and simple. In 1993 Major League Soccer (MLS) was formed quietly with 10 teams barely staying afloat. It played in front of fan bases that barely could rival a JV basketball game at times. But it grew to what it is today. Now 21 years old, you see 22 teams and growing, with Orlando City SC and New York FC in 2015, and Atlanta FC in 2017. Games now see an average of 18,807 fans per game, more than the NBA and NHL.
Side Note: Saint Louis may not have a team (yet), but gets the ability to claim something barely any city in the world can say. We have had a Saint Louisian in nine men’s World Cups and two in this years (Brad Davis and Vedad Ibisevic), and two women in the past two World Cups as well.
So while this World Cup ends sadly for American fans there is still something to be proud of in the big scheme of things. We can now take two things from this World Cup: Soccer is growing, and the American Outlaws are now contenders in the global eyes.