U.S. Soccer team may have been eliminated in the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but has undoubtedly made an indelible mark on the heart of every American. With an unprecedented rise in World Cup viewership, Americans were as excited about soccer as any other country of the world.
U.S. Soccer team was drawn into Group G for the 2014 World Cup, along with Germany, Ghana and Portugal. In their first game of the tournament, USA beat Ghana 2-1, in which Clint Dempsey (USA) scored the first goal just 33 seconds after the game started. After Ghana scored in the 82nd minute, there was a chance of a tie. It was broken by the winning goal delivered by John Brooks, the only US substitute to have scored a goal in the World Cup history. The last USA match was against Belgium. Even though Julian Green scored a goal in the second half of the game, USA lost to Belgium 2-1 and was thus eliminated from the Quarter Finals.
The match against Portugal where team USA played to wrangle a 2-2 draw was the most-watched soccer game in the history of America. According to Nielsen stats, the match attracted 25 million television viewers, far surpassing baseball and NBA finals averaging a viewership of 15 million. College and NFL football are the only sports still attracting more viewers than World Cup soccer.
The match against Belgium on July 1, 2014 is etched into the minds of every soccer fan because of its frenetic pace. It was the stage of one of the most dramatic comebacks, even though not a victorious one, in recent years. Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Brazil saw an inspired performance by US goalkeeper, Tim Howard. He has become a household name by saving 16 goals by the opposing team, so much so that the social media platforms are buzzing with a host of memes depicting Tim Howard saving mankind from many dangers and possible deaths. The day also saw Julian Green make his FIFA World Cup debut and score a goal in the extra time, thus saving the team from enduring a loss by two goals.
U.S. Soccer Team Milestones:
- Tim Howard earned his eighth appearance and start against Belgium, thus becoming the all-time U.S. MNT leader in World Cup caps and starts, breaking the record held by Tony Meola with seven caps and seven starts. He also earned his 104th cap overall, ranking 11 all-time.
- DaMarcus Beasley became the only American to play in four different FIFA World Cup tournaments. He made his 11th appearance in this campaign that ties an all-time second with U.S. MNT players Cobi Jones and Earnie Stewart. Beasley ranks 5th all-time with 120 appearances total.
- Clint Dempsey played his 10th FIFA World Cup game and ties in fifth all-time in US history with Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride.
- Michael Bradley, midfielder, earned his 90th cap and ties with John Harkes at the 18th spot.
U.S. Soccer Team Lineup With Jersey Numbers:
- Tim Howard – Goalkeeper
- DeAndre Yedlin – Defender
- Omar Gonzalez – Defender
- Michael Bradley – Midfielder
- Matt Besler – Defender
- John Brooks – Defender
- DaMarcus Beasley – Defender
- Clint Dempsey – Forward
- Aron Johannsson – Forward
- Mix Diskerud – Midfielder
- Alejandro Bedoya – Midfielder
- Brad Guzang – Goalkeeper
- Jermaine Jones – Midfielder
- Brad Davis – Midfielder
- Kyle Beckerman – Midfielder
- Julian Green – Midfielder
- Jozy Altidore – Forward
- Chris Wondolowski – forward
- Graham Zusi – Midfielder
- Geoff Cameron – Defender
- Timmy Chandler – Defender
- Nick Rimando – Goalkeeper
- Fabian Johnson – Defender
Even though Juergen Klinsmann and his team of wonder boys could not enter the Top 8, they have pushed the team into everyone’s notice. The history of the United States men’s national soccer team began more than a century ago, and it is only recently that it seems to be maturing into a class of its own. It all began in the team’s first International match outside United Kingdom in 1884 when Canada and United States played at Newark, New Jersey. The match was won by Canada 1-0. The following year, US won 1-0 at the same venue. Thus, began a lots of ups and downs in the United States soccer history, even though neither match was officially recognized.
Three decades later, the United States played in its first official tournament on 20 August 1916, against Sweden in Stockholm and won 3-2, with goals from Charles Ellis, Dick Spalding and Harry Cooper. At the World Cup in 1930, US won their first match against Belgium 3-0 held at Estadio Gran Parque Central in Montevideo, Uruguay. In the next match, United States defeated Paraguay 3-0. There was some confusion about who scored the second goal, but on 2006 FIFA confirmed that all three goals were shot by Bert Patenaude, who became the first person in a World Cup final to score a hat trick. At the semifinals, USA lost to Argentina by 6-1.
In the 1950 World Cup, the USA lost their first match 3-1 to Spain. USA redeemed itself after winning against England, 1-0, which is considered to be one of the greatest upsets in football history, as England beat the rest of Europe 6-1 just before the World Cup in an exhibition match. After USA was defeated by Chile, the team was eliminated from the World Cup. After this tournament, interest of soccer in USA seemed to have waned so much so that it will be four decades before the team makes a comeback.
FIFA announced the United States to be the host of the 1994 World Cup in 1989. Criticisms abounded because of this decision as team USA was perceived as weak and because of a lack of a professional outdoor league. The criticisms started to diminish after they won against Trinidad and Tobago in the 1989 CONCACAF Championship that earned the team a spot in the World Cup after 4o years. The 1990 World Cup was held in Italy, which saw Italy lose in all three matches against Italy, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Most of the responsibility fell on manager Bob Gansler who selected many inexperienced players and just-graduates. Rick Davis and Hugo Perez, two of the best players were also injured and unable to play.
As the host of the 1994 World Cup, the US opened with a draw against Switzerland. The game was played in the Pontiac Silverdome and became the first ever World Cup game played indoors. The second game saw USA beating Colombia 2-1, then fourth in world rankings. Even though the US lost to Romania, it still made it to the knockout round for the first time after 1930. The US lost to Brazil in the second round who won the championship. In 1998 World Cup in France, the team lost all the group matches against Yugoslavia, Germany and Iran.
In 2002 World Cup, the team beat Portugal 3-2 to reach the knockout stage and tied with co-host South Korea. Round 2 saw the US team defeating its neighbor Mexico but lost to Germany in the quarterfinals. In 2006, team USA finished at the top of the CONCACAF qualification tournament and was placed in Group E with Czech Republic, Ghana and Italy. All the three teams other than USA were ranked in the top 10 of the FIFA World Rankings and was reasonably dubbed a Group of Death. The USA lost to Czech Republic and Ghana but tied with Italy.
In the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the US team was drawn into Group C with Algeria, England and Slovenia. USA defeated tied against England 1-1 and Slovenia 2-2 and defeated Algeria. This was the first time USA won its group since 1930. In the Round of 16, USA was eliminated by Ghana, 2-1 and ranked 12 in FIFA World Rankings.
USA began their 2014 FIFA qualifications with a defeat to Brazil. The first six matches of the qualification round resulted in one win and one draw and four losses. The US team then went on a five-match winning streak and even won in Italy on February 29, 2012, their first win against Italy. In 2012, the team began qualification matches with four wins, one draw and one loss and secured a spot in the 32 teams qualified for 2014 Brazil World Cup.
The “World Game” is eventually rising in popularity in America and is the second most popular sport after Basketball that kids from age 8 – 18 choose to play. The Brazil World Cup has become one of the most trending topics on social media and the center of attention from June 12 – July 13, 2014. According to ESPN, 41% of Americans are pro-soccer fans. America also has record sales of tickets for the World Cup, just second to Brazil. So even though, team USA is out for now, we can hope for great things from them in the future.