While you were out mowing your lawn last weekend or watching with interest what moves your hometown NFL team was making in the offseason (Where is Favre's shoulder these days?), the United States men's soccer team was playing in and, as it turns out, blowing its biggest game in history - an improbable gold medal match in a World Cup tune-up in South Africa.
The men's team defeated reigning World Cup champion Spain in what may have been the biggest upset in national sports history since Herb Brooks led a bunch of rag-tag college hockey players to victory over the Soviet Union's previously untouchable national team at Lake Placid during the height of the Cold War.
The men's team had a chance to cap off the run with a win over perennial powerhouse Brazil, which Team USA has beaten only once in 13 attempts and was routed by in the qualifying rounds in South Africa. However, Team USA failed to close out Brazil after amassing a two-goal advantage in the first half, which is sort of like a 20-point lead in basketball. In other words, they choked.
The defeat has nonetheless been hailed as a huge step forward in men's soccer. And it was. The game drew more than 2.5 million viewers and showed that the U.S. team might finally be able to compete with the elite teams. It also energized dormant fans and even caught the attention of casual viewers who pushed the ratings above FOX's featured MLB game. But the broadcast, which was the most viewed soccer match in the U.S. since 2002, still drew fewer viewers than the NASCAR's Lenox 301 on TNT - a third tier race on a second tier network.
And the truth-painful as it may be for soccer lovers- is that until an international gold medal game trounces stock car racing in the ratings, we don't deserve to beat Brazil. And we won't.