Can you believe it? We go to all this trouble to update the site, and someone, I don't know, must have gotten my password, and said all those WRONG, HORRIBLE THINGS.
Actually, who cares. Small minds are the hobgoblins of consistency. I underestimated motivation as a factor in coaching, and I obviously didn't grasp the multidimensional facets of John Brooks' skillset. All I have to say in my defense is, neither did you, buddy. I wasn't exactly overwhelmed with people defending his honor.
No one's ever going to believe this - and this is me apologizing to Klinsmann via me trying and failing to get back some credibility - but I did call somebody for the US getting the winning goal. Alexi Lalas said "It was American," and that's because we are the superior race and have a manifest destiny to rule the world. It's also because this isn't exactly the first time the United States has pulled a miracle out of thin air. (Offer not available in Gold Cup Finals in southern California.) Klinsmann's final substitution gave the US enough offensive strength to mount a realistic counter-attack, whereas a lesser blogger would have called in Goodson and probably lost 2-1 or more after the deflating equalizer.
This probably wasn't the worst-looking great moment in US soccer history. The Tony Meola game against England in 1993 and the Kasey Keller game against Brazil in 1998 didn't park the bus - they put it up on blocks in front of the trailer. And by all accounts, the 1950 Game of Their Lives was less an artistic masterpiece as much as guts meets divine intervention meets a raucous crowd meets a ref feeling that England can bleeding well call its own fouls, if they're so terrific at this game they allegedly invented.
What I'm looking forward to now, as much as the Portugal game, are everybody's player ratings. Even Klinsmann's coaching and tactics will come under SOME scrutiny, unless like me you combine the cynicism of Kissinger with the attention span of Lohan. Good sub! Three points! When has Bob Bradley ever won a game like that?
Michael Bradley, the guy I thought would cement his legacy as one of the all-time US greats, nearly destroyed it. I'm sure he's played a worse game for the US, but I honestly can't think of when. I'd be tempted to blame last-minute lineup changes (Klinsi's fault) and all the hamstrings (also Klinsi's fault, no one forced him to book a hotel thousands of miles from any game site), but if he pays anything resembling this way again, Portugal joins us on three points, and then we have to hope that Germany has never heard of schadenfreude.
We can argue about who was the real man of the match - if they ever give it to players on the losing end, I'd consider Kevin-Prince Boateng - but if it isn't Brooks, it has to be Dempsey. The guy scored the fastest goal in American World Cup history, then no-sold a broken nose. It was a moment worthy of Brian McBride, praise I do not toss about lightly. The inconvenience of finding some place to put him on my US All-Time XI is balanced out by the pleasant anticipation of exactly how beloved this guy is going to be when the sun rises tomorrow.
We've been through this enough now that we can feel the seismic shift when another few kilotons of new fans hop on board the USMNT bandwagon. It had been happening gradually enough, what with that fallow period between 1994 and 2002, but by the time the US made its great Confederations Cup run it became clear that millions of people were at least part-time US fans. The winning goal against Algeria by...oh, what was his name again...anyway, the Algeria game upshifted the team's support even more.
Dempsey had been the overshadowed one in the previous two World Cups, despite scoring in both - Donovan's goal against Algeria came after a potentially heart-breaking Dempsey miss that no one remembers. It easily could have been Dempsey, not Donovan, who had been the face of American soccer the past four years. Now he will be. This wasn't vindication or redemption, it was fulfillment. The nation has a new hero, and we can say we knew him back when he was breaking Jimmy Conrad's face.
Soccer being the cruel game it is, one day someone will commit Burns or Agoos magnitude blunders with our new Zidane level of attention, and let's pre-emptively promise to be there for that poor guy. Fortunately, that day is not this. It is much better to tread than be trod.