America learns to love 0-0 as World Cup romance ends

Jul 2, 2014

US fans celebrate goalkeeper Tim Howard as rest of the world tips its cap to America


Could America's sudden love affair with 'soccer' be so intense that it has even learned to love the 0-0 draw?

The likelihood of witnessing a goalless draw has frequently been held up in America as a very good reason not to watch football, but the USA's thriller against Belgium proved that not all stalemates are bore draws.

For 90 minutes goalkeeper Tim Howard and his brave defenders kept Belgium at bay, prompting social media campaigns for Howard to run for president or at least have an airport named after him.

The match was even described as "nail-biting" by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas, hardly a footballing stronghold. "Making it to extra time felt like a small victory on its own," reports the New York Times, also finding something to celebrate in a 0-0 draw.

But the curse of the goal finally ruined the US rearguard as Belgium scored twice in extra time to send America home from Brazil.

The unexpected impact of the World Cup in the US was summed up by the NYT. "Trying to figure out where soccer fits into the fabric of America is a popular topic but, for one afternoon at least, there was this unexpected truth: All around the country, from coast to coast and through the nation's belly, sports fans of every kind were inspired by the performance of a soccer goalkeeper. In a loss."

The Wall Street Journal joins the party, praising not just Howard but also tyro DeAndre Yedlin, who came off the bench to put in a spectacular shift at right back.

"The team's spirit captured the imagination of the US as the men's team never has before," says the paper. "The World Cup has reached a tipping point in the US and will be one of the biggest sports spectacles in the country for years to come."

And as if America embracing goalless draws and heroic defeat wasn't enough, the rest of the world has been won over by American "kickball".

"In glorious defeat against Belgium, a nation was left heartbroken, but will wake up this morning knowing their football team won hearts and minds far beyond the population they so proudly fought for," says the British editor of US website Bleacher Report, Will Tidey.

He compares the doggedness of the US team to that of Roy Hodgson's underachievers. Unlike England, the US has "a team that has played with pride and without fear, as so many teams on the biggest stage fail to do".

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