The US Men's National Team defeated Algeria with breathtaking drama today to advance to the knockout round of the FIFA World Cup. Could this be the game that changes how American fans look at soccer? Could this be the tipping point for soccers popularity in the United States?
The prevailing attitude from most non-fans of soccer in the USA is this: Soccer is boring. Too many low scoring games and not enough action. Well, fans, what do you think now?
In what was possibly the most exciting 1-0 game I have ever witnessed in 40 years of watching soccer, the USA dispelled all notions that exciting has to mean high scoring.
In our present sports culture, where more touchdowns, runs, baskets, or goals are always desired, isn't it nice to know there is another way?
The USA win today was as much of an edge-of-the-seat, nerve-wracking, spine-tingling experience I've ever had, regardless of the sport involved.
In an amazing display of sporting drama, the US endured yet another wrongly disallowed goal, shots that found the woodwork, and numerous golden opportunities that were squandered away.
As the game got into the 80th minute, I started to think about the story I would write about this game. The headline was going to be something like, "USMNT—The Unluckiest Team in the World."
But Landon Donovan and his teammates never stopped coming. Perhaps the most well-conditioned team in the World Cup, the USMNT once again used its superior fitness to overwhelm the tired opponents late in the game.
Surely this exciting victory, achieved after 92 minutes of doing everything right except putting the ball over the goal line, is bound to change some perceptions and cause a paradigm shift among US sports fans.
Definition of paradigm shift: A change from one way of thinking to another. It's a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change.
Could this game be a major agent of change to start the American population thinking differently about soccer?
I think it can.
American fans of soccer have been waiting for a moment like this for many years. Something to let the rest of the population in on what we already know—soccer can be just as exciting as your favorite sport.
I think we've all just witnessed the "aha" moment for soccer in America, regardless of what happens the rest of this tournament.