The U.S. is about to America the crap out of Belgium
Based on a scientific survey of people at the Chuck E. Cheese that I’m writing this from, only two out of five Americans know that Belgium is actually a country, and one out of five thinks it’s a town in Pennsylvania where IHOP is headquartered.
Things Belgium does well: breakfast breads that aren’t pancakes or Cinnabons or even filled with cream for Jurgen’s sake. Things ‘Merica does well: declaring freedom, frying Twinkies, World Wars, and sports that aren’t cricket or rugby.
The Americans have made it through what was clearly the most difficult group in the World Cup, and now move on to the knockout stage for the second World Cup in a row. What this means without a shadow of a doubt is that we are now better at soccer than Portugal, England, Spain, and Italy, all of whom are out of the tournament. That’s just math or science or whatever.
In case you don’t fully appreciate how big a feat Das Nats pulled off, consider that along with the highest average FIFA world-ranking of any group, according to TheScore.com our Group of Death had the second-highest net worth of any group (just behind England’s Group D). Net worths were calculated based on what teams would have to pay to get the players. Here are the net worths of each of the teams in our group:
Germany: $621.8 million
Portugal: $399.5 million
Ghana: $150.7 million
United States: $77.4 million
Our highest-valued player, Clint Dempsey, is rated at $9.5 million. Third place Portugal’s MVP? Cristiano Ronaldo’s hair at $136.1 million. Ronaldo alone is worth almost double our entire team, but he and his handbag collection are going home, and we’re moving on.
Part of this value discrepancy is based on the (false) perception in the world market that American players aren’t worth investing in. That’s one of the un-sung reasons why successful performances at World Cups are great for the sport in America. It’s not just about beating the world at their own game (although it’s clearly about that, too). Success means more opportunities for our players. More opportunities mean more top athletes choosing to focus on the sport and more of our players playing at the highest level. Success breeds success. And once every four years, you guys will all care about that sort of thing.
The U.S. plays Belgium on Tuesday, July 1 at 4 p.m. Eastern. Belgium’s net worth? $467.8 million, over 6 times the U.S. value on the open market.
But that’s ok. Americans love to be undervalued. George Washington was undervalued in 1776 by the British. Herb Brooks and his miraculous group of hockey players were undervalued by the world in 1980 when they America’d the crap out of those Communists. Seth Rogan is undervalued by Kim Jong-Un. That’s never stopped us before.
German forward Lukas Podolski said it best to Yahoo Sports, speaking about the Americans’ chance to advance: “Against Belgium? Why not? They give all of what they have-€“ this is their football. With this kind of football they can go to the next round.”
Why not indeed, Lukas.
God bless the U.S. of Olé.
Do you even Tweet, brah? @fastacton