American fans had plenty to cheer about at the World Cup, but at the end the US came up long on heroics but short on glory — and the quarterfinals.
They always say the hardest thing to do in sports is to hit a baseball. Watching the World Cup, however, it’s plainly apparent the hardest thing to do in sports is to score a goal in soccer. There are plenty of .300 hitters in baseball, but no .300 shooters in soccer, at least none in the World Cup.
Although the United States had a valiant Cup showing with some memorable rallies to make the round of 16, their inability to avoid the early deficit doomed them in the end. Playing from behind all the time wears on a team, and it seemed like the US was always playing catch-up, even in group play where they beat Algeria 1-0 in overtime on a goal by Landon Donovan, below right, in extra time to avoid elimination.
The US team played 390 minutes of soccer in South Africa — and led for just three of them.
The US had a chance to advance and perhaps gain some world recognition, but once more failed to take that next step. The 2-1 overtime loss to Ghana was disappointing, especially when one considers the USA has nearly 15X the population of that tiny African country. The same Black Stars that knocked out the US in 2006 — and by the same score.
With so many other team sports in America, it’s no surprise that soccer has never really caught on in this country. Oversaturation will do that, and there are just so many sports Americans can absorb.
At the end of the day, the US team still has work to do in order to reach world class status. The last (and only) time the United States even made it as far as the semifinals was in the first World Cup in 1930. They were beaten 6-1 by eventual champion Argentina and finished third that year, and they haven’t been that close in 80 years.
As the New York Daily News said: “Going, Going, Ghana.”
Play in the World Cup is certainly dramatic, but FIFA must get with the real world and use available technology — at least for goal-scoring plays. Not a big advocate of instant replay for offsides and penalties.
But the whole world saw England score a second goal against Germany — everyone but the officials on the field. At the very least, position a goal judge directly behind the net to make goal calls and avoid controversy.
The Germans would argue the call makes up for 1966, when England’s Geoff Hurst (Sir Geoffrey Charles Hurst) scored a controversial goal in overtime against West Germany at Wembley Stadium to spearhead a 4-2 triumph and Britian’s only World Cup. Hurst remains the only player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final.
Heck they even had video replay 44 years ago, as this You Tube link attests. You make the call.