Today is the summer solstice. The sun shines longer today than any other day of the year. Today is also my birthday.
I have already completed the first activity of the day, which entailed waking up at 4:30am PST to watch the United States battle Germany in the World Cup quarterfinal. My Girl, being the little trooper she is, woke up and watched with me. Truthfully, the alarm didn't go off and I sprung awake of my own volition at 4:45, thereby missing the first fifteen minutes of the game. Luckily, they were scoreless minutes. The first half was exciting, yet frustrating, as the United States played valiantly, controlling the ball and creating a handful of legitimate scoring chances while standing up to the bigger German team. Brian McBride embodied the underdog American spirit all tournament long, and did so again in this game, winning balls in the air from taller players and exhausting himself in the process. Oliver Kahn, the German goalkeeper, was sensational, making one great save after another and keeping his team in the game. After the Americans were whistled for yet another foul in their own end, Germany put together a terrific set piece to net a header from close range and take a 1-0 lead. A lead they would never relinquish. The second half was more of the same, with the Americans winning the time of possession battle, but failing to beat the keeper. Again, there were plenty of chances -- Landon Donovan earning a bunch of corner kicks with his blazing speed,Greg Berhalter volleying a ball that nearly crossed the line before hitting a German defender's hand which was in the goal, and finally, nearing the end of the match Tony Sanneh heading the ball just wide into the side of the net, -- but an equalizer could not be found.
Although the United States didn't earn a victory in this hard-fought game in the Round of 8, they gained the respect of the soccer world. They played their hearts out, outplaying the Germans in the process. I'll never forget the victories over Portugal and Mexico, or even the draw with South Korea, and I'm confident that their performance in this tournament will lay the groundwork for future World Cup success. I am firmly on the bandwagon and I feel no shame in saying so. I could not be more proud of the effort the U.S. Team put forth in Korea. They displayed true soccer skill and acted as worthy ambassadors of America. Despite the disappointing loss to the favored Germans, their outstanding World Cup run is to be celebrated. The United States has finally landed on the map of the most popular sport in the world. A new soccer power has been born.