Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

The World Fights Back

Well, that was disappointing.

The U.S. fell to Ghana in extra time and their World Cup has come to a close.

It’s hard to believe it’s over; after two weeks of exciting play, bad calls, comebacks and last-minute goals, it all ended today.

The U.S. fell back into their bad habit of conceding early goals, as Ghana got on the scoreboard less than 5 minutes into the game. Not only was it the first goal Tim Howard conceded in more than 135 minutes, it was the first goal Ghana scored in free play during the entire tournament.

Of course it was; the team just can’t lose, it has to lose in surprising, painful ways. As a Cleveland fan I should be used to it but it never gets easier. Maybe that’s why this team was so much fun to watch. Cleveland sports fans are used to rooting for underdogs and understand the sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s rear every day – or any day in the case of Cleveland.

Maybe all the comebacks, the roller-coaster ride, the fighting against refs and a governing body that didn’t want them to advance finally became too much for the Americans to overcome. Maybe they finally ran into a team – Ghana did win the African Cup of Nations this year – that was their equal. Going four games without your forwards scoring a goal certainly didn’t help. Whatever the case, it’s over now.

“The finality of it is brutal,” Landon Donovan said in published reports. “When you realize how much you put into it, not only for the last four years but for your whole life. There’s no guarantee there’s another opportunity. It’s disappointing.”

And the US team is left to wonder what could have been, as the path to the semifinals may never be this easy again.

Hopefully the team can take both the good and the bad from this tournament and build on it. Hopefully this year’s performance was not an aberration, but the beginning of the norm. The faces will certainly change, as you have to wonder how much longer players such as Donovan, Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra can continue in international duty.

We’ll find out in 2014 in Brazil.

I can’t wait.

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