Thursday, June 24, 2010
I hope you didn’t miss the moment.
By that, I mean, I hope you have been following the entire generation of US Soccer. The moment, was merely a moment. But, the story is really over a decade in the making.
You see, France 1998 was a very humiliating time for US Soccer. We were beaten badly and dismissed as the 32nd best team in a 32 team field. It was clear that while we were now clearly better than our neighbors in Canada and Guatemala, we were not close to being a consistent threat to play with the big boys in the World Cup.
I hope you saw Landon Donovan back in 2000 play in the Summer Olympics and debut with the senior national team as such a young teenager.
I hope you woke up at 3:30 in the morning in 2002 to watch our boys upset Portugal and then ultimately knock our rivals, Mexico, out in the knockout stage. It was wonderful.
I also hope you were excited and then devastated by the 2006 World Cup. We obviously did not finish the Bruce Arena era properly. 1 goal scored? No wins? Surely we were way better than 2006 showed. What happened to the promise of Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley? And who was this new star from Texas, Clint Dempsey?
I hope you have followed the legacy of the US goalkeepers. From Meola to Keller to Friedel to Howard. Somehow, we grow goalies like few other countries. If only we could find defenders of the same quality.
I hope you have followed the qualifiers. All of those amazingly rewarding and gutting nights in El Salvador, Honduras, Chicago, and Salt Lake City. And then another trip to Azteca Stadium where we took the lead last summer, only to concede to the Mexicans in the final moments.
I hope you know about the Davies and Gooch injuries that we thought might derail our train. I hope you know about 5-0 in the Gold Cup Final. I hope you know about the Confederations Cup dream run last summer that started with that miracle against Egypt. I hope you know about the coach’s son who might be the real heart beat of the team.
If you know about all of this, then you fully comprehend why those 11 seconds on Wednesday morning brought tears to our eyes. You understand, and maybe you were right there with us.
This was not about beating Algeria. This was about Bob Bradley’s job. And Landon Donovan’s legacy. And US Soccer’s reputation. For the first time since 1930, the United States put out a soccer team that could win it’s group in the World Cup. For the first time, the US gained a result in the final game of group play.
So, if you are not sure why people are going on and on about the 11 seconds that it took the ball to go from Tim Howard to Landon to Jozy to Clint and back to Landon and into the net, please know this: It was about the decade-long journey. And it cannot be fully explained in an easy sound bite.
The dream may come to a screeching halt very soon, but we will always have the pride of these last 3 matches. The fact is we are not ready to win a World Cup as a nation. But, we have come so far. And you should not miss the rest of the journey.