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:
It wasn't just the political world, either. Stars from other sports joined in on the act:
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:
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:
Carr and ESPN Stats & Info provided some historical context:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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