The first half was a dream that no US soccer fan wanted to wake up from.
The second half was reality crashing hard on the hopes of those same fans.
That said, the US can only be proud of the effort and results that this team put together after getting off to about as bad a start as could be imagined.
Now everyone wonders what's next. Will this help push soccer from a niche sport in the US to a more mainstream sport? Will this tournament elevate the USMNT to a more legit contender for the 2010 World Cup?
For me, I think we need to temper things a bit. To truly become more of a mainstream sport in the US, I think MLS needs to make huge strides and get numerous under-30 world stars to play here and make the league's level of play strong enough so that a player like Landon Donovan isn't questioned when he decides to ply his trade stateside.
On the USMNT level, this team needs to develop into one that doesn't need to merely "get a result" against world powers like Spain and Brazil. They need to develop into a team that can possess the ball enough to kill the game when they have a 2-0 halftime lead, regardless of the opponent.
But, I will say this: the US is THE team in CONCACAF. The torch has been passed from Mexico to the US, regardless if Mexico wants to admit it or not.
I also believe that the US has developed to the level that they should not only expect to qualify for the World Cup, but they should be expected to advance out of group play unless they get placed in a crazy "Group of Death". Although, they showed in the Confed Cup that they are able to pull off a miracle escape from a group of death that contained the eventual tournament champs and the reigning World Cup champs.
Plus, I like the USMNT's chances in a World Cup that isn't being held in Europe or South America.
Our day didn't come yesterday. But, it looks closer than it has since the 1-0 loss to Germany seven years ago.
News & Notes:
- Maybe the US did win some respect along the way.
- Tim Howard was named the best goalkeeper and Clint Dempsey was named the 3rd best player in the tournament.
- Michael Lewis wants to see more consistency from the USMNT.
- Grant Wahl has more on the story surrounding FIFA looking into Michael Bradley going off after his red card in the Spain game. Michael needs to learn to control his emotions in the future.
- Jozy doesn't want to go back to Villareal, Ricardo Clark might be joining Carlos Bocanegra at Rennes, The Kartik Report has a couple other rumors, and SBI.net has some rumors on where Charlie Davies could land next.
- The US YNT blog has the take on the Spain game from some of the best American youth players.
- US Open Cup.com has their 3rd Round preview up. The good news for the Rhinos is that Neil Sika, the radio voice of the Crew, is expecting 80% of the Crew's starters to be rested on Tuesday.
- Oh yeah, the Rhinos were able to go on the road and get a 2-1 win over Minnesota on Saturday night. Andrew Gregor and Mike Ambersley got the goals, Ty Harden played the full 90, and the team was able to get some rest from some of the more beat up players on the roster ahead of tomorrow night's Open Cup tilt versus Columbus.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the Rochester Rhinos or SoccerSam.com. Feel free to send any comments or complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org. James promises to read (but not to respond) to all of them.