I've just witnessed the USA's heartbreaker against Belgium: a 2-1 loss in what seemed like time so infinite that America just couldn't fall. A huge effort by the Belgians, and an equally stunning effort by the American squad. If we're all being honest here, the outcome wasn't nearly as surprising as the finish.
Julian Green's extra-time goal was ignition at Cape Canaveral. With a single play on Michael Bradley's ball, he sent into orbit the American fans that just minutes before had fallen into hopeless dismay. For 13 minutes America rose to it's feet and genuinely believed that the impossible was possible. Not all endeavors go flawlessly, but the best remind us that there is good reason for staring up at the stars.
I was in a state of disbelief as the official blew the final whistle, and it was not because we lost or because we were close in the end. I was stunned primarily by the fact that a team that had previously been dismissed had captured our hearts, and that they would be damned to let us down with just a whimper. Only one team has answered a two-goal deficit in extra time during the World Cup. Tonight wasn't to be our night, but we offered no apology nor showed any quarter. I've never been so encouraged by a loss, nor have I ever bought into a new coach so easily. Klinsmann's impact was so obvious that you can measure it with a yardstick.
It all got me thinking about the love affair between us (the casual fan) and sports in general. Say what you may about the tickets and the t-shirts. In every fan's life there are but a few fleeting chances to witness greatness. In our blue-collar climate, it's only harder to have the free time to watch. Watching Modano & Crew turn this franchise around in the late 1990's was one time, as was Rafael Nadal's exhaustingly epic match against Roger Federer in 2008. Watching Aaron Rodgers take a team of bandaged-up nobodies to Super Bowl victory was another.
I have no inclination to believe that this fan-hood thing is a poor idea. The time I've spent with my father, the time I've spent with my girl, and the time I'll spend with my children... I won't regret a minute of it so long as we occasionally witness something great.
Everything about this squad just oozes promise. From Benn and Seguin, to our fresh big-game experience, to our prospects in Cedar Park. And now, a legitimate second-line center. I believe that we'll get to witness greatness again. Together, and soon.