BURNFIN: Don't stop... you know the rest

7/1/2014

It would have been undeserved, a heist of proportions not even George Clooney and Brad Pitt could imagine.

It would have been undeserved, a heist of proportions not even George Clooney and Brad Pitt could imagine.

Yet, that does not help the heartbreak of another extra time loss in the World Cup's Round of 16 for the good 'ole U.S. of A.

Belgium was by far the better side — though, Tim Howard was the best player on the pitch. And the United States could muster only semi-threatening counter attacks for most of the first 90 minutes. Still, they had the chance.

In stoppage time, Chris Wondolowski nearly sent the U.S. into pandemonium with what would have surely been the winner, instead sending the point-blank shot over the crossbars — the offside flag was up, though, despite replays showing Wondolowski was clearly onside.

Rather, with memories of the 2010 defeat at the hands of Ghana creeping back up, Belgium finally broke through in the 93rd minute in extra time, en route to the 2-1 win, eliminating the U.S. (Asamoah Gyan scored in the same minute in extra time in 2010 to eliminate the Americans then, too.)

Still, I wanted it. It was not even a quarterfinal game, let alone a championship, but I was more anxious, excited, and eventually more disappointed in that match than any game since Oregon lost to Auburn in the BCS (R.I.P.) Championship in January of 2011.

The worst loss before that? Ghana.

It does not matter that I only casually follow soccer outside of World Cup years, with only a cursory knowledge of the sport. Every four years, like many in the country, I become enthralled. I was this year, and I will be in 2018 in Russia.

The reason is simple, and it was broken down easily in one tweet I read earlier today:

"I think I've figured out why people love soccer... The entire game feels like the bottom of the 9th inning."

Exactly.

Baseball was my first passion, and the comparison is spot on.

The whole build up of a nine-inning baseball game creates anxiousness in all those involved. But that anxiety does not necessarily manifest until that ninth and final inning.

But, in soccer, that anxiety is immediate, and it exploded with every save that Howard, the bearded dark crusader and superman all wrapped into one, made Tuesday.

All the U.S. needed was that last second goal to steal the game. A field goal returned for a touchdown on the last second for you Auburn and/or Nick Marshall fans.

And they almost got it.

Almost.

Here's to 2018. And Clint Dempsey. And Howard. And to the youngin's that will be back out there in 2018, with the entire country's support once again.

I still believe.

Sports reporter J. Levi Burnfin can be reached at lburnfin@gctelegram.com

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