105.3 THE FAN — When Cristiano Ronaldo put a perfect ball across the net for a running header by Silvestre Varela, the internet exploded with disgust, hatred, shock and some ill-fated attempts to make a comparison to the feeling.
In an attempt to localize the emotions to DFW, I saw some people compare it to Nelson Cruz’s outfield snafu that essentially cost the team the World Series.
For me, there is no way those two are in the same atmosphere as each other.
Maybe it’s because I am a casual soccer fan, somebody who is excited about the World Cup and embraces the entire tournament, but not necessarily somebody who spent the last few months watching qualifiers and warm-ups to completely appreciate how far the team has come.
With the Rangers and that all too well documented moment of truth when Neftali Feliz was one strike away and Nelson Cruz was out of position for what should have been an easy fly out to win the World Series, it was completely different.
The Rangers had been close to the top of the mountain the year before. They got pushed back down a couple hundred feet by San Francisco, and then toiled through the grind for an offseason and an entire 162 game season plus playoffs — without Cliff Lee — only to be inches from the top of the mountain again.
So close they could taste the champagne and ginger ale bubbling in the clubhouse.
Then it was suddenly ripped away, with a world of shock and ultimate downward spiral pain spinning in their minds for eternity. A tie game turned into a loss, which turned into a game 7,which turned into World Series loss No. 2 for the Texas Rangers. A moment that will live in infamy for Texas fans.
With the running header pass from Portugal’s exquisite villain Ronaldo, the US simply tied a Group G match, which they probably should have won.
However, they still got a point for the tie, and they gave up an idiotic play to open the game on a goal by Nani.
Without Jozy Altidore, they still put up offense on the scoreboard and were able to show they can compete.
I don’t think this team has lost it like that Rangers club, and I don’t think that carries half as much weight as they Rangers Game 6 World Series loss.
I do however think they can make a run if they continue to learn.
The Manager Jurgen Klinsmann said the U.S. couldn’t win. He’s used each moment to teach a bunch of young guys how to win.
However, in this moment, you could see guys stalling for time. You could see guys who were well overheated work their way into being substituted out.
And for that matter, maybe they wish they would have waited until they secured the win and would have taken more time off against Germany in what would have been a game they didn’t need to win. But they didn’t. And they finished with a 2-2 tie and now must compete against a very good Germany team.
I saw this happen on a team I covered once. The team lead most of the match, only to give up an equalizer and game deciding goal in less than a minute to end the match.
The coach asked the players afterward what they learned.
He told them not to answer him until the following Monday at practice.
They went on to win 9 straight games and a junior college championship.
I asked him what his players said they learned.
He said each player told him “Never Stop.” “It’s not over until the final whistle is blown.” “Don’t lose focus down the stretch.”
I felt the American team felt they won that game before they actually won. I hope they learned something they can take into the game against Germany on Thursday.
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