Detroit — Celebrating a loss.
If you are the United States soccer team and you care about the growth of the sport in this country, celebrating Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Germany is fine.
Jurgen Klinsmann raised his arms and clapped toward screaming American fans following the loss to the country he helped win the World Cup as a player and a coach. And crowds across the country joined in the celebration.
All because the loss, coupled with Portugal’s victory over Ghana, sent the United States into the Round of 16.
“I am elated and I am excited,” said Mikyle Covington, a Detroit schoolteacher and athletic director. “I don’t care that we lost. We played Germany, which is a perennially top five team since forever. I don’t care that we lost as long as we got into the final 16. That is all that matters.”
Get people talking
The goal is to see more conversations like the ones that played out at Campus Martius — and around the country — where about 1,000 people gathered to watch the match.
Or the ones that broke out at McShane’s Irish Pub, where casual soccer fans Mike Glinski of Romeo and his pals, Detroit’s Mary Carter and Jerry Paffendorn, talked about seedings and goal differential and kept an eye out on the Portugal-Ghana match.
“It puts us on the map,” Glinski said. “Hopefully, we can get past the round of 16. I can’t wait for the highlights that don’t show the U.S. getting annihilated in the Round of 16.”
Needed: Another win
Making the Round of 16 helps, but it won’t be as big a breakthrough as experts would lead you to believe.
It never is.
Now, one more victory — over Belgium on Tuesday, perhaps — and there’s a chance to tilt the scales.
And imagine this: A victory sets up a match against the Switzerland-Argentina winner on July 5. How much more of a chance for patriotism could the American soccer team get?
“It’s just important to still be in the tournament when half the teams are gone,” said local soccer historian Roger Faulkner. “When you have England, Italy and Spain all gone home and we are still playing, that in itself is an achievement.
“Anytime we take a step like this it raises our reputation.”
The goal is to give soccer a chance.
Sure, it won’t replace the NFL or college football, or even any of the other major sports.
TV ratings high
The World Cup will get high ratings — last Sunday’s match between the United States and Portugal attracted the most viewers in ESPN history outside the NFL or college football — plenty of media coverage and be debated.
But there’s one thing to remember: Love or hate soccer, this is not the time to think about long-term ramifications.
The United States is one of 16 teams left in the World Cup.
That should be our focus.