While the U.S. failed to reach the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup, Jürgen Klinsmann’s squad can take solace in knowing it fought hard in five matches.
The U.S. effort in the World Cup can be viewed as a sharp contrast to Brazil’s humiliating 7-1 loss to Germany in the semifinals. When things got rough for the Yanks, they kept fighting. When faced with the challenge of a 2-0 deficit against Germany, Brazil waved the white flag.
It was a particularly disturbing result for Brazil Tuesday given the match was played on home soil and after decades of regret over failing to win the last time it hosted, in 1950. When the U.S. hosted the World Cup in 1994, an American squad lacking in world-class players was admirably knocked out in the Round of 16 by just one goal by the eventual champions, a Brazil squad that included Romario, Bebeto, Rai and Dunga, which certainly had more pride than this Brazilian roster.
The Yanks lost two matches in the 2014 World Cup, but at least they never gave up. In a group match, the U.S. played the same German team that annihilated Brazil to a 1-0 loss, but didn’t show any major lapses and fought hard for 90 minutes.
In the Round of 16, when down 2-0 to talent-rich Belgium with 15 minutes remaining in the extra session, the U.S. kept pushing. Instead of folding, they received a goal from Julian Green and almost an equalizer from Clint Dempsey. It was a heartbreak loss for the Yanks, but they at least they headed home knowing they gave it their all.
It's difficult to imagine the U.S. losing a World Cup match by six goals. The last time the U.S. team was firmly trounced in a World Cup was in 1990, when a ragtag group lost to Czechoslovakia, 5-1, in Italy. The Yanks have come a long way since then with a more accomplished and skilled roster.
There is no comparison between the U.S. and Brazil when it comes to history, style and talent. Five World Cup titles and a collection of legends that include Pele, Garrincha, Djalma Santos, Zico, Socrates, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and others dwarf the U.S. Not only does Brazil win often, but it also does it in style.
Selecao will almost certainly bounce back from the embarrassment to Germany, and overcome its World Cup drought after failing to win the title since 2002. Meanwhile, the Yanks may still have a ways to go to even reach the semifinals.
But for now, the U.S. at least has one edge over Brazil: heart.