The USA's new appetite for the World Cup is adorably American

For once they're just trying to get their foot in the door, rather than kicking it in

Christopher Hooton
Wednesday 02 July 2014 14:46
A fan dressed as Captain America looks on after Belgium's 2-1 victory in extra time during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
A fan dressed as Captain America looks on after Belgium's 2-1 victory in extra time during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

USA/Team USA/#TeamUSA/USMNT got the humbling defeat it secretly desired in a match with Belgium so explosive it would have made Michael Bay proud last night, bringing an end to the nation's sometimes hilarious but often inspiring obsession with soccer.

Few could have predicted it, but the World Cup became hip on the other side of the Atlantic this year, with strategies and key players being discussed over craft beers and 'OMG OMG OMG OMG #USA' exclamations flooding social media.

Given America's domination of so many sports I think it enjoyed being the little guy for once. Its position as a ne'er do well underdog was refreshing for many and it tapped into the slight embarrassment many feel over its perception as a usually saber-rattling world police. For once it was just on the fringe trying to get its foot in the door, rather than kicking it in.

Often lampooned for its slow-moving nature and unforgivably low scores, soccer needed considerable Americanisation to reach such cultural saturation in the States however.

This was achieved through numerous absurd 'pump-up videos', #AreYouReady hashtags and wilful abandonment of football parlance, seeing talk of "PKs" (that's penalties to you and me), the team being referred to as 'USMNT' (United States Mens National Team or "Uzzmint" as it was wonderfully pronounced) and headlines like 'US World Cup ends with 2-1 OT loss'. Overtime! These guys.

"I believe that we will win" was the polite chant of choice, and truly the World Cup could have only got more American if a last-minute Fifa rule change saw penalties replaced by a commercial-laden Total Wipeout-esque race over inflatables with the Jules Rimet hoisted over the goalmouth.

American interest in soccer might wane now the USA is out, and the tournament will probably be swallowed up by its news cycle like a Jimmy Fallon video or a Chick-fil-A protest.

But while it lasted, America's input saved what might otherwise have been a bit of a lacklustre World Cup. Here's hoping they continue to soccer the hell out of football in 2018.

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