A World Cup exit isn't going to be enough to derail the United States soccer movement.
The Americans were eliminated from the round of 16 with a 2-1 defeat against Belgium on Tuesday night, but optimism was the overarching theme following the disappointing loss.
President Barack Obama sees greener pastures ahead, while Joe Biden and Bill Clinton were also quick to applaud the squad:
Proud that our guys, just like our country, never gave up. Tim Howard--most valuable player in the World Cup. #USMNT— Vice President Biden (@VP) July 1, 2014
It wasn't just the political world, either. Stars from other sports joined in on the act:
Unbelievable game. I’m so proud to be an American! Our guys battled. Thanks #TeamUSA for such a great run— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) July 1, 2014
Love America! So proud of our @ussoccer team!— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) July 1, 2014
An extremely talented Belgium side dominated much of the match, looking far more dangerous on the attack before finally breaking through and netting two goals in extra time to earn the victory. Still, the Yanks weren't devoid of extraordinary performances.
Tim Howard was damn-near transcendent. Belgium's onslaught produced a never-ending 39 shots, and the veteran goalkeeper responded with a history-making 16 saves, per ESPN's Paul Carr:
He single-handedly kept the Americans close for the entire match, and there was really nothing he could have done to prevent either of the goals. He earned a perfect match rating from WhoScored.com, making it one of the best performances of the entire World Cup:
Tim Howard: Is just the second player in World Cup 2014 to receive a perfect 10 rating in a match; the other being Oscar (vs Croatia) #usa— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 1, 2014
Not even Belgium star Vincent Kompany could help but praise the 35-year-old Everton man:
While Howard was busy putting together a Herculean effort in what could be his World Cup swan song, a couple other Americans were busy providing a glimpse into the future.
Nineteen-year-old Julian Green came on as a sub in extra time, scoring on the very first touch of his World Cup career. ESPN FC gave a look at the wonder goal:
Here's Julian Green's stunning goal. WATCH » http://t.co/KRDbkB0CD5— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 1, 2014
Carr and ESPN Stats & Info provided some historical context:
19-year-old Julian Green is the youngest World Cup goalscorer since Lionel Messi in 2006. #USA— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) July 1, 2014
Green, who already plays for Bayern Munich, faces massive expectations as the future face of this team, but he suggested he's ready to live up to the unbelievably difficult hype.
Fellow youngster DeAndre Yedlin hasn't quite been put on the potential-savior pedestal, but he completed a tremendous World Cup showing with another fantastic match.
Called into action for an injured Fabian Johnson in the 32nd minute, the Seattle Sounders' 20-year-old star was a nuisance for Belgium down the right sideline, using his breakneck pace to create a slew of attacking chances and dangerous crosses into the box.
He was able to grab the attention of legendary defender Rio Ferdinand:
Yedlin is a little bullet, great to see a full back running forward & back with the same intensity— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) July 1, 2014
As ESPN's Taylor Twellman noted, interest in the right-back will surely increase moving forward, much to the chagrin of those in Seattle:
Ultimately, being bounced from the World Cup is undoubtedly disappointing. That will never change, no matter the nation. But the phenomenal effort (getting out of the "Group of Death" despite a daunting travel schedule, challenging Belgium, battling through key injuries) and tantalizing youth movement help soothe the sting.
Jozy Altidore put it simply:
We need to believe as a nation as we did the past few weeks that we CAN compete. The tide is turning and the world has taken notice. #1N1T— Jozy Altidore (@JozyAltidore) July 1, 2014
Thanks again to all the fans across the country for the incredible support! You guys make it all worth it!! #USA🇺🇸🇺🇸— Jozy Altidore (@JozyAltidore) July 1, 2014
Having Jurgen Klinsmann, who has gotten massive improvement out of this team since taking over for Bob Bradley, will continue to foster such development. He talked about the future, via ESPN's Jeff Carlisle:
Klinsmann on if he will coach team in Russia in 2018: "I think so." #usmnt— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) July 1, 2014
Klinsmann: "There's a lot to build on going forward," #usmnt— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) July 1, 2014
As much as some will fight to keep it from happening (I'm looking at you, Ann Coulter), soccer is growing in the United States, and this team is continually getting better.
The last three weeks—and even Tuesday's loss—serve as proof.