Over the course of 90 minutes I felt like I was slowly starting to lose faith in humanity. After all, the United States were going up against everything from well-worked goals being disallowed to red card offenses being ignored. It looked hopeless, and yet the air in Pretoria was incomprehensibly filled with hope. And thankfully, the game lasts a little longer than 90 minutes. As Emerson once wrote, “Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly, and they will show themselves great.” Though I may have pondered Bob Bradley’s decision to start Jonathan Bornstein over the gargantuan Oguchi Onyewu, I never, for a second, stopped trusting them. And after the likes of Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Tim Howard proved themselves to be world-class throughout the last two matches, I knew that these men embodied greatness.
Great teams have composure, self-belief, and, most importantly, talent. If the US side was not as talented as they were, no one would have expected a win this Wednesday. As Landon Donovan stated after his seemingly immaculate 91st minute game-winner, the United States’ leader said, "I'm so glad it culminated this way. When you try to do things the right way, it's good to get rewarded." It is worth noting that the “right way” does not include throwing elbows that cause your opponent to bleed, trying to hurt someone recovering from an ankle injury (Jozy Altidore), and losing confidence in yourself. The beautiful game often turns ugly, but that is only because it is so easy to see when a team is playing the game with a positive or negative mindset.
As Bob Bradley so eloquently said in the post-game press conference, “you cannot control a bad call, but you can control what you are, as a team.” Despite everything hindering them, the US never stopped believing fate was in their own hands. If you know that you stand for what is good, you should never stop believing. Now I know the US may not be as good as the likes of Spain and Brazil, but their positive mindset when on the pitch is second to none. This positivity has been reflected through the media. Unlike the English media, who were viciously attacking their Italian manager Fabio Capello, this nation saw the performances their eleven were putting in, and they knew that every single one of them was playing with heart and determination. These men from the United States were raised with confidence in the theory of self-determination, that is, being autonomous, causal agents of our own acts and our own self.
Landon Donovan, in the post-game press conference, said alongside well-earned tears, “I’ve been through a lot. It [the 1-0 win] makes me believe in good.” Though the beautiful game may transcend good and evil, today is a good win for the United States, a good win for soccer, and a good win for those who believe in justice. Paulo Coelho tweeted after the US victory, “winning is for those who are not interested in the virtues of losing.” So go forward America, and we will continue to trust these great men who believe in the virtues that stem from invaluable positivity.
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