1. The Group of Death was dangerous for everyone involved, which helped us to slip through to the next round.
Many people predicted that the U.S. wouldn’t be able to handle the skill and prowess of Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. But in the end, we managed to squeeze by while the other big dogs of the group tore one another apart.
2. We started with a win, giving us a leg up on the competition from the very beginning.
In a real nail-biter of a game, we managed to narrowly get past the Ghanians with two very impressive goals. That same day, Germany absolutely destroyed Portugal, putting us in the upper half of the group. How about them apples?
3. And while we’re talking about Portugal… they really had a rough tournament. Which was exactly what we wanted.
Despite the fact that Portugal was ranked fourth in FIFA world rankings, they opened with a 4-0 loss to Germany, and overall didn’t play nearly as well as people anticipated they would. This was exactly what the U.S. needed.
4. Ironically enough, it’s thanks to Portugal beating Ghana that we managed to advance, even though we lost to Germany.
The scenarios were complicated, but essentially, we needed a tie against Germany to advance. Once Germany went up 1-0, we needed Portugal to put Ghana away to keep Ghana from taking that second slot with Germany into the round of 16.
5. Scenarios and conspiracies aside, American soccer is actually getting pretty good.
If you watched any of the group stage games, there were moments of absolute brilliance displayed by our boys on the field. The consistency isn’t quite there yet, but we’re getting closer.
6. Our team has a diverse mix of talent.
We finally have creative players, like Clint Dempsey, who know how to score goals. We have large bodies, such as Jermaine Jones, who can win the ball in the middle of the pitch. And we have playmakers like Michael Bradley and Kyle Beckerman who can actually connect passes consistently.
7. And our goalkeeper, well, let’s just say we owe so much to him.
Tim Howard is the freakin’ man. Without him, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have advanced. And while we’re on the topic, did you know he actually suffers from Tourette’s, and STILL manages to dominate?
8. And while we aren’t the most skilled or consistent, we know how to fight. Hard.
We beat Ghana in the last five minutes of the match, and we came back from being down to get that crucial point against Portugal. Maybe it’s the coach’s mentality, or perhaps it’s just our American spirit, but we do NOT like to lose.
10. We are EXTREMELY lucky. But who cares?! WE ADVANCED!
With a loss to Germany, our fate was no longer in our hands. Had Ghana managed to beat Portugal, they would have advanced out of the group with Germany. But Portugal came through to beat Ghana, giving us the nudge we needed (and deserved) to go through.