What We Learned From the World Cup
Hope for the US, a nation that almost loves the game
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2014 1:21 PM CDT
Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer celebrates after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 13, 2014.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

(Newser) – Now that the final whistle has blown and a champion has been crowned, it's time to reflect on the lessons of the 2014 World Cup. Here are some of our favorite takeaways:

  • FIFA needs to address concussions. We saw numerous people take hard shots to the head and keep on playing, in part because soccer's substitution rules are so stringent—one of those players was Germany's Christoph Kramer, and he looked "unquestionably dazed and confused" when he fell again 15 minutes after getting hit in the final, Amy Bass at CNN notes.

  • That could be us. The philosophy that led to Germany's football turnaround was instituted by none other than current US coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Gil Lebreton at the Star-Telegram points out. "Who's to say he won't make the US team a more legitimate global force by 2016?" he asks. After all, the US may not have been as good as Argentina—but both teams lost to Germany by the same score.
  • Teamwork matters. "One man, even if he is the greatest soccer player of his generation, can’t beat the best team in the world," Lebreton adds, reiterating the narrative that while Argentina had the best player in Lionel Messi, Germany had the better team. Again, that's a lesson that bodes well for the US.
  • Talent matters. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic at Forbes writes that the big moments "were all marked by predictable differences in talent." Had Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain or Rodrigo Palacio had the technique of Germany's Mario Götze, Argentina could have won.
  • ...but not without personality. Despite his MVP award, few believe Messi was the best player, despite being the most gifted. "His performance during the big games confirmed what half of Argentina already knew: Messi needs a personality transplant," Chamorro-Premuzic writes. He was "largely absent from yesterday's game."
  • The US sort of loves soccer! Sort of! "To be sure, more than ever before, American fans got on the World Cup wagon," Bass writes, and not all of them stopped watching after the US went out. But the familiar refrains of naysayers were as loud as ever. "There is only one thing we can count on in four years: There will be those who yet again claim that soccer has finally arrived and those who say that it hasn't and never will."