The World Cup has come to an end. Germany claimed the title in a 1-0 extra time victory over a Lionel Messi led Argentina. The victory sealed the dominant run, which the Germans have enjoyed since the tournament began. This tournament has raised the profile of soccer not just worldwide, but in the United States as well.
This World Cup began with a lot of fanfare. It was staged in the country that has given soccer, its moniker- “the beautiful game.” Brazil was rocking. The country was aflame with passion and national pride. Their national men’s team had great expectations. Its stars like Neymar, Paulinho and David Luiz were expected to lift the trophy for a record sixth time. Many pundits had already ceded the trophy to the Brazilians, before the first whistle was blown.
The United States team was flush with confidence and controversy. Its head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, the former German team national coach and soccer star, had banished Landon Donovan. Donovan, the hero of the 2010 World Cup was unceremoniously dumped for younger players. However despite that, the fans of the team were behind the team. This incarnation of the United States Men’s National Team featured several younger players, some of mixed German-American descent; John Brooks, Julian Green and Jermaine Jones. Reliable veterans such as Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Tim Howard were members of the team as well.
The tournament started with a bang, a thrashing of defending champion Spain by the Dutch. From there fans were riveted to every shot or save. Fans were on the edge of their seat whether their team was winning or losing. The chants of national team fans got into our heads. Most notably the United States chant, “I Believe” was a popular one. Those teams that were lucky enough to make it out of the group stage, there came the anticipation and dread of the Round of 16. Round of 16 match-ups produced just as much drama, the United States extra time loss to Belgium. Fellow CONCACAF member, Costa Rica beat Greece before bowing out in the quarterfinals, even though their goalie Keylor Nevas did everything he could to preserve their remarkable run.
Several players made themselves stars if they weren’t already. James Rodriguez of Columbia scored in every game he played. Thomas Muller cemented his burgeoning legacy, with some timely strikes. Mexican goalie Guillermo Ochoa made himself a hot commodity. Americans Tim Howard and Jermaine Jones proved that the US has some new soccer stars, which fans can latch onto.
Some tournament favorites fell by the wayside on the way to the championship. England, Italy and Portugal flamed out early. The French fell in the quarterfinals. Brazil was demolished by the Germans in the semis, the score and game so absurd that even the announcers were stunned by the utter destruction. The Germans awaited in the finals. They were soon joined by Argentina and its golden boy, Lionel Messi. In the end, the German team prevailed over Argentina. Die Mannschaft are the champs. A fourth star, representing the four World Cups, they have won will be added to their jersey. For the next four years every other nation’s fans can debate and anticipate the validity of the Germans’ reign and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
This tournament has shown the growth of the game in America. It showed the growing parity of the game- that teams from middling football nations, such as the United States, Costa Rica and Columbia could be very dangerous. Furthermore this World Cup provided the world with some new and young soccer stars. This World Cup will be remembered for more than just the champions, it will be remembered for all its good play, great goals, bad calls, beautiful women and the rollicking fun of the host nation.