The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News 2

June 17, 2014

COLUMN: Nothing beats the World Cup

— Soccer fan or not, Monday’s dramatic comeback from the United States was about as good as it gets in sports.

It had everything.

Clint Dempsey’s early goal set the tone for a tense 90 minutes of soccer that had anyone watching on the edge of his or her seat for the duration of the game.

Monday’s historic win featured the fastest goal in U.S. World Cup history, the first-ever goal by an American substitute at the World Cup and the United States’ first win over Ghana.

But it was more than just a record-setting night. In a country that obsesses over sports like no other, the game united casual fans and diehards alike. For two hours late Monday afternoon, American sports fans gathered at sports bars, on their couches or huddled around mobile devices to cheer on the red, white and blue.

The game itself didn’t disappoint and featured all the emotions that make sports great. There was the euphoria of Dempsey’s early goal, followed by an hour and 20 minutes of tense defending by the U.S.

That tension turned to agony when Ghana finally broke through in the 82nd minute to bring American supporters back down to Earth.

As in any sport, Monday’s game showed how quickly agony can turn to ecstasy when John Anthony Brooks brought fans to their feet with a game-winner four minutes later. The 21-year-old Brooks went from unknown to American hero when he became the first substitute to score for the U.S. in a World Cup.

The only thing that compares recently in international sports is Olympic basketball, which hasn’t been the same since the Dream Team in 1992. As good as that ’92 team was in Barcelona, Olympic basketball has declined in both talent and interest over the past two decades.

Interest in the World Cup, on the other hand, has grown in the United States. Since hosting the tournament for the first time in 1994, soccer has steadily grown across the country.

According to a recent study by Sports Business Daily, soccer has surpassed football and baseball in youth participation numbers.

And it’s not just youth that are interested in the sport. The United States bought more tickets to the 2014 World Cup than any country outside of host Brazil.

So, whether you set your DVR to watch the games at night or just catch a few games during the weekend, enjoy every minute of it.

It won’t come again for another 1,452 days.

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Local News 2
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