Why Not Us?
By: Connor Lenahan
Today we lost to Germany. I have never been happier about a loss in my life. As has been reported by just about every red blooded American with a Twitter account today, the United States team is still alive in the World Cup thanks to Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo slicing a late goal to beat Ghana.
Thanks to America’s hero Cristiano Ronaldo – which is a very odd sentence to type given he was also responsible for the game tying goal Portugal had against us on Sunday night – we are into the knockout stage of the World Cup. Next week we will face off against Belgium in the round of 16. While this is putting the cart miles ahead of the horse, it’s impossible not to look at the bracket and picture the possible matchup in the round of eight: Lionel Messi and Argentina.
Soccer is not America’s game. If we had an international tournament for Football (our football, not futbol) we would win solely because it’s truly America’s game. We are the best nation in basketball, the Olympics are clear on that. We are competitive in hockey, but as long as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are alive we aren’t terrifying. There’s a World Baseball Classic, but given that we hold players like Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout out while Japan can pitch two of the best starters in the American League in Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka handcuffs us greatly. We already have a strong enough presence in other major sports to allow for soccer to fall by the wayside for us, but that’s what makes this situation so amazing.
I’m not saying that I think we are going to win the World Cup. Logic and the eye test dictate otherwise – my money is on the Netherlands. No, I choose to look at it this way; doesn’t the situation we find ourselves in right now fit everything we love about American sports? We are as big of an underdog as possible. We unite the people of our country every time we take the field. During the game today we had multiple parents come to our desk to ask about the score and where they could watch the game. We have heroic figures to get behind in Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones. We even have someone that could win himself back into the hearts of millions with a goal against Belgium in Michael Bradley.
If the United States were to win the World Cup it would be the greatest thing to ever happen for the sport in our country. I’ve long been of the belief that the ability to be internationally competitive, to be able to hang with Germany, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Italy, etc., is something recognizable to even the most casual of fans. If suddenly we started throwing our weight around with the big boys then people will start paying more attention to American soccer. We are a nation of bandwagons whether or not we like to admit it. In this case, it would be a great thing.
Further, because of how the tournament is set up now, we do have a chance to go on a run. It’s one and done. How many times has someone caught fire in a single elimination tournament only to make a big splash? Well, seeing as the NCAA championship was played between UConn and Kentucky, two teams that few expected to make the title game, it’s common enough to believe.
I’m an optimist. I’m hopeful. I’m sleep deprived and quietly fighting off a devilish head cold. Maybe my mind isn’t in the right place, but I think that something special could happen in Brazil.
After all, given that it’s sudden death, everyone has a chance. That leads me to ask, why not us?
Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in journalism.