The US lost 2-1 to Belgium after extra time in the World Cup Round of 16 today. Here are six negatives and 10 positives from the end of the United States’ World Cup 2014 adventure:
NEGATIVE: Chris Wondolowski came off the bench and missed exactly the sort of chance you expect him to score. He could/should have won the game for the US and been on front pages everywhere tomorrow morning.
POSITIVE: Julian Green came off the bench and finally looked composed. His volleyed goal was just a taste of the many fine unflappable finishes to follow from the 19 year old.
NEGATIVE: Tim Howard was forced to make 16 saves just to keep the US in the game.
POSITIVE: Tim Howard’s 16 saves in one game is now a World Cup record. He and, by extension, the US are now part of World Cup history. And Howard will look great on the $16 bill that the U.S. Treasury is about to commission.
NEGATIVE: It may be a while before the US is able to field a player with the pace and attacking intent of Kevin De Bruyne or Eden Hazard. It may be even longer before we can leave a player like Romelu Lukaku on the bench.
POSITIVE: Even without the big names that Belgium boasted, the US kept this game close with a lot of hard work, tactical discipline and smart play.
NEGATIVE: With the US working hard defensively, Clint Dempsey was often stranded alone up front and unable to compete with Vincent Kompany and Daniel van Buyten.
POSITIVE: Michael Bradley finally had the sort of dominant game in midfield that his biggest fans and biggest critics have been waiting for.
NEGATIVE: If DaMarcus Beasley retires from international soccer, we’re back to having no left back.
POSITIVE: DeAndre Yedlin’s pace and bravery were a constant threat down the right wing in this game, and will be a weapon the US can use for years to come. Yedlin is still only 20 years old, and so he’s going to become an even smarter player in the coming years.
NEGATIVE: The US is out of the 2014 World Cup.
POSITIVE: The US is out of the 2014 World Cup with heads held high.
POSITIVE: The US is out of the 2014 World Cup having survived the Group of Death.
POSITIVE: The US is out of the 2014 World Cup but Jurgen Klinsmann has earned the trust of every US Soccer fan. He’s the man to take us forward.
POSITIVE: The US is out of the 2014 World Cup having entertained a nation.
POSITIVE: The US is out of the 2014 World Cup with the respect of teams from around the world. (I know this is true because I listened to the BBC after the game, and the biggest talking point was, “Why can’t the England team be more like the US team.”)