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The 90th minute of today's U.S.-Algeria match. Time to pop the corks and celebrate the proof of a very fashionable paradigm? We are living, after all, at "The End of the American Era," when we must confront "The Limits of American Power," to overcome "The Icarus Syndrome" and combat "American Hubris," to quote the titles of some recent influential books.
And what better confirmation that the "Time of the Americans" (to quote one book title that celebrated the era of apparent omnipotence after victory in World War II) had truly passed than a quick boot out of the World Cup at the hands of Algeria, of all places? And following draws with minuscule Slovenia and an England whose own imperial wings had melted long ago—helped along by some controversial referee calls that certainly showed no deference to the pretensions of American power, whether hard or soft.
But it was not to be. In extra time, Team USA broke through, after so many squandered chances, and scored to break the tie and fight onward into the tournament's knock-out round. And you know what? Cautionary paradigms be damned—there followed relief and pride and sheer simple joy. Maybe an American win is not so bad after all. Or does that only apply to the soccer field?