The 2014 FIFA World Cup is over for the United States as eight nations still believe their team will be named World Cup Champions on July 13. The United States lost to Belgium, 2-1, in extra time on Tuesday in the Knockout Round of 16.
While the end result of this final game for the Americans has been talked about continuously for the past two days one play seems to have been conveniently overlooked, especially by ESPN. Don’t get me wrong the worldwide leader has discussed this play from time to time, but it is even left out of Bob Ley’s tournament recap.
(Sorry the video would not embed, but you can watch Bob Ley’s video here)
Those of you who watched the nearly three hours of action on Tuesday afternoon will know exactly what I am talking about. No, not Tim Howard making save after save to keep the U.S. even through regular time (that was talked about a lot and deservedly so), but reserve Chris Wondolowski coming on and missing a basically wide open net in stoppage time at the end of regulation that would have pushed the United States through to the quarterfinals.
Maybe the reason this hasn’t been talked about a lot is because the ref appeared to call Wondolowski offsides, meaning the goal would not have counted anyway. This is not the first time Wondolowski has missed a goal like the one. The first time this happened was in the 2011 Gold Cup and Wondo was not (called) offsides. (Hope you enjoy the commentary as much as I did)
While the offsides call would have probably stood and disallowed the goal, I would like to propose another reason why the media conveniently has forgotten about this big opportunity. Telling this side of the United States World Cup story appeals to no one in this country, so the media (or once again at least ESPN) has not mentioned this play as much because it does not benefit them financially. It’s sad that it seems to be more about money and keeping viewers than actually reporting what could have been.
I immediately tried to find something to compare the Wondolowski miss to other sports and it became clear how the media would cover those. The miss of what could have been the game-winning goal on a stage as big as the Super Bowl of Soccer can easily be compared to a kicker missing a game-winning field goal in an NFL playoff game, or a basketball player like LeBron James missing a game-winning 3-pointer in an elimination game in the NBA playoffs.
How would ESPN cover these game-winning plays gone wrong? Well I know they would be all over LeBron and he would be talked about all summer until the next NBA season started back up in the fall. It would also be these players’ fault (rightly or wrongly) that their teams lost and the media would be the first to point this out. I’m not saying something smells fishy here, but I’m just saying.
This leads me to think about how wide the popularity gap is between soccer and other sports in this country. Maybe this is why the what-should-have-been goal is not being covered that much; the gap between these sports was just starting to shrink thanks to Team USA and this World Cup, and the last thing soccer needs is another set back that could last four more years.
I am not writing this just to just bad mouth ESPN, which I find myself watching daily to get my sports news (I also approve of the new set). I hope this article at least makes you think about how much the media can control the way we think about something such as the United States’ time at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Do you agree or disagree that the Chris Wondolowski play has not been talked about a lot? Comment what you think below.