After the United States upset Spain in last year's Confederations Cup, many Americans started to believe that soccer's (or football to the rest of the world) popularity was just beginning to shine.
The second half meltdown to Brazil in the Confederations Cup Final brought American fans crashing back to reality.
However, the Americans will return to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup and are looking to avenge last summer’s late collapse. And after yesterday's World Cup draw, the storylines became quite interesting.
The United States will open against the very talented English team, who have the likes of Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, and Steven Gerrard in the lineup. Algeria and Slovenia round out the very talented group of teams. Fortunately for the United States, unlike 2006, they were able to avoid the “Group of Death.”
The face of Team U.S.A., Landon Donovan, has been very busy since yesterday's draw. He was interviewed on ESPNEWS and went on to say that his team looks "very good on paper" when asked if they can make it out of the first round.
The matchup on paper doesn’t mean anything once the game begins, though. The United States team understands that very well, being the heavy underdog in the win against Spain last summer.
The 2010 World Cup will define United States soccer for the next decade in terms of popularity. It seems as though soccer has become a fad, moving in and out of the spotlight, but never being able to stay for long.
A win over England and a solid tournament would finally establish the U.S. as a team to be reckoned with, after many years of abuse by teams from South America and Europe.
The win against what seemed to be an unbeatable team of Spaniards last year seemed like a warning to the world that the U.S. wants to establish themselves as legitimate contenders.
After the disappointing 2006 World Cup first round exit, there is new hope and excitement for the United States team. Bob Bradley is coaching in his first World Cup, and after seeing how prepared the team was in South Africa last summer, the sky is the limit for this years' team.
With the start of the 2010 World Cup six months away, the United States has a short period of time to get healthy and ready for one of the biggest tournaments in the history of United States’ soccer.
The future popularity of soccer in America may very well rest on their shoulders.