For all my year of contempt toward ESPN, their coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup has been pretty good. Its also safe to say that watching ESPN in the middle of the weekday cannot be more interesting than the live matches from this tournament.
As for the USA and their exit from the Cup, I've spared no words for the lack of progress of the USMNT. There were a few who did raise their stock in the Futbol world:
Coming on as a midfielder, Seattle's young defender YEDLIN did very well. He may yet win some medal (either the Open Cup or the MLS Cup, or both). Teams from Europe are knocking on the door. That's proof that you've made it on the scene.
Hoffenheim's Fabian JOHNSON did well enough in Klinsmann's revolving door defense. He may yet get a move to one of the bigger German clubs.
Howard already signed a contract extension with Everton. His milestone 100th cap and the goalkeeping bravery of a record 18 saves against Belgium solidified his place among US legends.
Jermaine JONES evolved from a hard man to an offensive weapon for the USA. Sadly, he was one of only a few who did attack.
Omar almost suffered the same fate of being left out of the team. He got his start and shined. He'll go back to LA Galaxy, but the question is for how long ?
There were a number of Americans who will never return for the National Team and a few that may have a future. Those are the neutrals.
The losers to be called out:
Michael Bradley. Since his departure from German soccer its been downhill. At AS Roma he was benched and finally transferred to Toronto's MLS. He had 4 bad games. It remains if he's goo enough to play for the USA again.
Jozy ALTIDORE. How can you be 24 years old and pull a muscle just running ? I think he was overrated to begin with. Klinsmann brought no replacement for this average player. He has been a flop in the Premier League and only a matter of time before he takes the Fredy Adu express to obscurity.
Geoff CAMERON. See Altidore above. Pretty much overrated guy playing in England. Gone.
While Kyle Beckerman did MLS proud, Brad DAVIS and Chris WONDOLOWSKI choked at the big show. None of them will probably return.
Interestingly, the one player who did not play at Brazil 2014 and who's stock rose was Landon DONOVAN. His accomplishments made World Cup success look easy. The USA could have used him and Klinsmann made a huge mistake leaving him out. Like him or not, he is one of the USA's All-Time greats.