It's 3am. And I still can't think of anything else.
After celebrating my birthday yesterday in the best way an American soccer fan can and after having a meal prepared by my lovely wife and after finishing said meal, I sat down to type this column.
And fell into the most blissful sleep a man can have. And I dreamed of the USA advancing out of the Group of Death. Thanks to an extraordinary fighting spirit, a 21-year old's coming out party, an ability to overcome adversity such as injuries galore and an endlessly attacking Ghanian team, the very idea of the United states advancing out of Group G is no longer a pipe dream but a possible dream. Because truth be told, the United States Men's National Team did not play particularly well and literally no one is particularly concerned because they won.
They won because Jurgen Klinsmann has the vision of a mage. Before the match, perhaps sensing the combination of conditions and an extremely physical Ghanian side might lead to injuries so Klinsmann did something he very rarely does--he had the reserves and the starters warm-up together before the match. The message could not have been more clearly stated--this was going to be a night where everyone had to be ready. It's why John Brooks should be remembered not just for his heroic goal (and let's not forget Graham Zusi--another sub--firing in an extraordinary cross) but for any number of defensive plays he made during this amazing match. He had some early hiccups but Brooks played damn well after his first few nervy minutes. If Matt Besler is truly out because of hamstring trouble, the US team will nary miss a beat in their much-maligned back line because Brooks could not be flying higher right now.
And as long as plaudits are being handed out, they won because Jermaine Jones knew only one speed on yet another night of heat and humidity that only plant-life could enjoy. Jones is yet another US player who has been criticized mightily in the past but there wasn't a player on the pitch last night who worked harder--he was my man of the match after Brooks. On a night when Michael Bradley was clearly off his game, America's best player still hustled from minute one. Clint Dempsey--along with Bradley and the now badly injured Jozy Altidore, our best offensive threat--said afterward he couldn't even breathe because of a broken nose suffered from a wayward Ghanian boot and still he played on. And finally, some praise should be heaped upon Tim Howard; if Everton's number one isn't universally thought of as one of the very best goalkeepers in the world then I'll be content in the knowledge that the world will keep underestimating the American side at their peril.
There is something about pulling on the USA shirt that makes players who couldn't crack half the lineups in the tournament play above themselves. How many US players would be called upon to play for the extraordinarily deep Spanish side? Howard and that's about it. Bradley might make the team as a reserve. But which side is living a happier existence as we speak? I can't help but think that Vicente Del Bosque is wondering what might have been if Spain played with half the heart and desire the US team had last night. There is but no question Spain--and any number of other sides--are talented than the USA. Portugal, reeling because of Pepe's craziness du jour, has more talent. Germany, again looking like a tank of a team early, has infinitely more talent than the USA. But no team is going to fight harder and no team is going to play with more heart. It's hard to avoid cliches when they're true.
It's 3am in Los Angeles. And I still can't think of anything else.
U-S-A! U-SA! U-S-A!