by Jason S Rufner
The United States men's national team may have lost, but soccer in America definitely won.
What we just witnessed in Brazil was unquestionably monumental. Other nations can take pride in a Round-of-16 berth, but the United States can revel in our accomplishment. We should. We deserve to. World Cup 2014 will be remembered as the moment the lights came on and showed everyone in the world's greatest country what the world's greatest game is all about.
Because of what we all just shared, kids will start kicking a ball around, calling themselves Dempsey or Altidore or Jermaine Jones. Parents will encourage their kids to start playing this glorious game that looks like so much fun on the TV these last few weeks. And people of all ages will start going to professional soccer matches in person, to be part of the excitement, live.
The North American Soccer League - the original FIFA sanctioned men's national pro soccer league in the U.S., spanning the country from coast to coast - has been growing ever since we came back on the field in 2011. In that brief span, we've nearly doubled both the number of member franchises and the average match attendance.
But we could have asked for no bigger boost than what those young men just did, representing soccer in the USA on the world's biggest stage.
For getting revenge, and escaping death, and going toe-to-toe with some of the world's most talented and giving them all they could handle.... For Clint Dempsey playing through pain, and Tim Howard standing on his head, and Julian Green coming off the bench to make us still believe....
For a valiant, never-say-die effort that captivated a nation rooting like crazy for a team in a sport many don't yet understand.... For Teddy Roosevelt, for hot Twitter trends, for unprecedented TV ratings and for turning city parks into massive throngs of red, white and blue....
We'll take it from here. When the Fall Season opens on July 12 with matches in Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Carolina and New York and July 13 in Edmonton -- we'll see you out at the field, NASL fans: let’s #GrowTheGame together.