After the Fall.

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[A. Serwer]

Hey ya'll, this is Adam. You guys might know me from such blogs as TAPPED and Jack and Jill Politics. I'm honored to be guest-blogging for TNC, and I'll try my best, along with the others, to help keep this blog interesting in his absence.

I don't usually write about sports. I don't even really watch sports like that--with the exception of soccer, which is the only game I really and truly love. I spent a number of my formative years in Italy or Brazil being mocked for being from a country that spent millions of dollars mastering every sport except the one that mattered. So the past few years--the past few weeks in particular, as the U.S. soccer team came within a hair's breadth of winning the Confederations Cup, have been sweet. I actually let myself hope that the U.S. might come away winning its first major tournament against Brazil, until Luis Fabiano crushed those dreams during the second half of today's game. 


I should be really upset--but I'm not. Because I don't think we deserved to win. 

Let me clarify that--I'm not talking about the individual members of the U.S. team who played their hearts out today. I'm talking about "us" as a nation just opening its sleepy eyes to a game the rest of the world has always been in love with. Before there was Michael Jordan, there was Pelé. Much of the time, when it comes to international sports, we wipe the floor with the rest of the world. Soccer is where the rest of the world wipes the floor with us. And there's a certain kind of karma to that--we don't love the game as much as they do. Not yet.

It would have been like a relationship peaking too early, when two people get excited about one another only to realize a month later that they're bored. if we had won, most Americans would have shrugged their shoulders--"of course we won." But losing--that gives us something to care about. If we had won, as a country, we would have been bored. I honestly think that in losing, we give ourselves room to start loving the game the way that everyone else does. We'll know we're there when the places we play pickup games have names as recognizable as Rucker Park, when little kids wanna be like well--Luis Fabiano, and not just Kobe Bryant. Maybe that'll never happen. But I'd love to see it.

Technically, we beat the best team in the world when we beat Spain last week. But beating Brazil would have been different. Brazil is legendary, what they are defies the mere science of temporary rankings. Beating Brazil would have been like beating the game. We're not there yet. We don't love the game enough. But someday.

Now maybe this is just a fanboy trying to make sense out of a loss that's relatively simple to explain: we lost because we played a better team. I still can't help feeling like maybe, in the long run, that's not such a bad thing for the future of American soccer.

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Adam Serwer is a staff writer for The American Prospect.

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