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And Another Thing


A dispatch from Soccerworld

The redness in my hands is just now fading, as I write this. It's not been long since they were being hammered into submission by exuberant high-fives from strangers, not been long since that moment when Landon Donovan punched the ball to the back of the net and we all went whirling back in time 80 years, to the last time American soccer ascended such a pinnacle.

U.S. 1, Algeria 0, and here is some history for you: It marks the first time the United States has won its group in the World Cup since 1930, when Herbert Hoover was president and the Great Depression was just settling in for an over-long stay.

And I wish all the pundits and cynics who say Americans will never embrace soccer -- that it's this weird little game for people with funny accents and traditions that, because they're not our traditions, are somehow deserving of our ridicule -- had been in the back room at J.K. O'Donnell's today, at 11:45 or so in the morning.

I wish they could have been there when Donovan collected a rebound and drove it home in extra time, and a roomful of Americans came to their feet roaring. I wish they could have seen all the palm-slamming high fives that erupted, heard the "U-S-A! U-S-A!" chant rise up and blow the roof off the place.

I've been in a lot of similar rooms for a lot of momentous sporting events over the years. I've heard them erupt at the moment the game turned. And let me tell you something: I've never heard one of them erupt any more wildly than the one I was in this morning.

Americans don't care about soccer?

My hands beg to differ.

Ben Smith's blog.