1. Back to the knockout stage
After a miracle run to the quarterfinals in 2002, the United States earned just one point in ’06. This time around, the national team tied a pre-World Cup favorite in England, won Group C and advanced to the knockout round where it lost to Ghana, 2-1.
There are some good players on this team, but it isn’t there yet in terms of depth and quality. The second-round exit is just about fair for this squad. It still did better than ’06 winner Italy, which was bounced in the first round without a single win.
Sure, the U.S. could have done more damage with its draw, but to advance to the knockout stage for the fourth time in history is solid enough.
2. Young guns will have time to grow
Bob Bradley had to rebuild the team from ’06 that featured a crop of composed veterans. On Saturday, only four starters remained from that squad, which lost to Ghana in the final group match.
Young talent like Jozy Altidore, Benny Feilhaber, Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu will continue to rise as they gain more experience playing in Europe. Stalwarts such as Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard will all be in their prime four years from now. The future is bright for the national team, and if it can either add or nurture a top-shelf striker, it should be back in the knockout stage in 2014.
3. All eyes on the Americans
TV ratings for the English language broadcasts in the U.S. are up more than 60 percent, highlighted by an 8.2 rating for Saturday’s match, which was the most-viewed soccer match since the 1999 Women’s World Cup final won by the U.S.
Two weeks ago, the U.S.-England match in the early afternoon got higher ratings than the average Stanley Cup telecast shown in prime time. Soccer took a big step forward this World Cup in terms of public perception and interest, and interest in the Americans is at an all-time high. Hopefully this means our country’s best athletes will now turn to soccer.