There were quite a few takeaways from today’s U.S./Belgium match. The first is that Tim Howard is the best goalkeeper in the World Cup hands down. He put up 16 incredible saves, a World Cup record, to keep the Americans in the game against a very talented Belgium squad. The 35-year-old keeper recently signed a contract that will keep him with the Toffees until 2018. So it is possible he will be between the posts for yet another World Cup. At some point we should start looking for a replacement for Howard, but that looks almost impossible after today’s inspired performance.
The second takeaway is that Jurgen Klinsmann’s youth movement in 2014 will be a focal point of the 2018 World Cup squad. John Brooks, the hero from the Ghana win and the greatest American since Abraham Lincoln according to Wikipedia, will be looked to for an even bigger role in 2018. By that point Brooks should be a star in the German Bundesliga, probably moving on from Hertha Berlin. DeAndre Yedlin, the former University of Akron star that sparked the American attack on several occasions, will likely be a starter for the U.S. in Russia. Arsenal starlet Julian Green will become a household name in Europe in the next few years. He is definitely a star in the making.
Then you have Timmy Chandler, Mix Diskerud, and Aron Johannsson. That is six potential starters coming out of Klinsmann’s decision to take some youngsters to Brazil. All of them will be in their prime in 2018.
The third takeaway is that Americans do love soccer. World Cup watch parties brought on record crowds from coast to coast. Fans, casual and hardcore, and supporters flocked to pubs, stadiums, and city circles to watch the Americans in the World Cup.
Ohio was the epicenter of World Cup watch parties. Crowds of 5,000 and then 7,500 turned out to Cincinnati’s Fountain Square to watch the U.S. battle in “The Group of Death”. Thanks to the local American Outlaws chapter, even small markets like Akron put out impressive numbers. Lakewood’s Merry Arts garnered huge crowds from the Cleveland area and was the subject of several news stories.
Everyone that enjoyed the past few weeks needs to do their part to grow the game. We need to work together to make a difference and make the U.S.A. a true soccer nation that is a favorite to win the World Cup.
Today was a groundbreaking moment in the American game, but the hardest part is yet to come. Let’s get to work!