Tim Tebow in 2008.
Tim Thomas in 2011.
Tim Howard in 2014?
Almost, America. Almost.
So long, futbol. Football is on the way.
Howard, the goalie for Team USA's World Cup team, did all he could to save the day for the Americans against Belgium at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. His American teammates finally awoke in the final 15 minutes of extra time and battled Belgium down to the final possession.
The Americans were unable to sustain any sort of offensive attack in regulation play. Meanwhile, Belgium swarmed the American zone and pounded Howard with 20 shots in the first 60 minutes of play. That's probably equal to at least 52 in hockey. He finished with 16 saves. The most-ever in a World Cup game.
Howard made the first 13 saves of the game with his legs, his hands, and the reach of his 1.91-meter frame.
Soccer today. Metric system tomorrow.
Save No. 14 for Howard didn't come until after Belgium scored the game's first goal in the 93rd minute of play. Howard slid to his right but the ball rolled past his outstretched foot and into the back of the net. Eventually, the Belgians found another piece of Kryptonite and "Superman" allowed a second goal later in extra time.
A 19-year-old substitute named Julian Green scored at the 107-minute mark by rushing the net. It was Team USA's first goal since Clint Dempsey scored in the 61st minute against Portugal on June 26.
That was a span of more than 211 minutes without a goal. Another chance by Jermaine Jones a minute later nearly tied it. The Americans mounted one more charge with a rush and a couple of up-close shots around the 112-minute mark that could not find their way home.
Final score: Belgium 2, USA 1.
Several thousand fans gathered to watch the game at Boston City Hall Plaza. The crowd was healthy and spirited but nothing like what you might see on the day of a Duck Boat parade.
Millions of other Americans watched the game at large viewing parties across the country. Yes, America stopped in the middle of a Tuesday workday to watch a soccer match.
Millions went back to work or home disappointed.
Unfortunately, those who hope to see the sport raised to a new level in the nation's athletic consciousness will be disappointed with the fallout from this World Cup. Team USA's trip to Brazil proved to be a nice distraction because there wasn't much else going on in the sporting world. But there will probably not be the carry-over into the MLS or college ranks that only a World Cup victory could have created.
Despite that fact that 300 million Americans "believed," America's Team went 1-2-1. The United States never led again after giving up the game-tying goal in the final minute of injury time against Portugal. That goal was far more devastating to this team than anyone associated with it, or who was allowed to speak on ESPN, would ever admit.
In Boston, viewership for the four games involving the Americans was among the highest-rated in the United States. But will that translate into any momentum for the Revolution to get their own soccer-only stadium in the city? That's very unlikely if the team isn't willing to put up most or all of the money.
Team USA's joyride in the World Cup was a rare chance for the nation to unify around something. For that, it was certainly worth it. Sadly for those who wanted something different, history will show that this was just a brief summer fling with soccer as a whole.
While futbol will continue to grow in popularity across this country - see our pre-World Cup analysis here - it will take decades before it overtakes any of the so-called "major" sports in the United States.
Soon, futbol will fade from the national consciousness and football will return to its primary spot in America's sports mindset.
The rest of the world will have to carry on without us.
The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
Obnoxious Boston Fan Email Address. Thanks always for reading and pass the clicker.
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