THIS DAY IN SPORTS: The ‘other’ football finally takes root

Presented by BBSI BOISE.

This Day In Sports…July 1, 2014:

A captivating run by the United States in soccer’s World Cup ends in the round of 16 with a 2-1 loss to Belgium in extra time in Brazil. The Americans had opened the tournament with a 2-1 over Ghana on a goal in the 86th minute. They then settled for a 2-2 draw against Portugal after surrendering a goal in the final seconds. The U.S. followed with a narrow 1-0 loss to powerful Germany, a result that actually helped it get to the round of 16. I watched that game with my family at a pub in Port Isaac on the southwest coast of England. Perfect atmosphere.

It seemed that this was the year that would get the sport over the hump in America, as the nation embraced the Cup. TV ratings for U.S. matches were at NBA Finals and World Series levels, and huge watch parties were organized across the country, including one for the Belgium match at the Grove Plaza on a 96-degree afternoon in Downtown Boise.  

Did the 2014 soccer buzz have staying power? The reaction to the 2022 World Cup this fall in Qatar will tell us a lot. The U.S. team has qualified for the tournament after a disappointing miss in 2018, the Americans’ first failure in 28 years. The squad desperately wants to make history. The U.S. made the World Cup semifinals in 1930 and registered a stunning upset of powerful England in 1950. The Brits were coming off a 6-1 rout of an all-Europe team comprised of the best players on the continent. Little did anyone know, however, that the U.S. would go 40 years without another World Cup appearance.

The Americans got to the quarterfinals in 2002, but today they’re rebuilding fan trust. The team endured a challenging seven-month World Cup qualifying campaign to get to Qatar, including 14 matches—seven home and seven away. The USA’s starting lineups during those games averaged 23 years, 302 days, which is the youngest in team history for a qualifying cycle. The Americans are young, fresh and hungry.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)


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