SAO PAULO – The most famous United States soccer player is still probably a guy who isn't on the team. One of the team's best players could be out of the tournament because of injury and most of the squad is a relatively low-key bunch.
But there were a bunch of unsung heroes in the U.S. lineup who shined on Monday night in battling to a 2-1 win over Ghana and a superb start to the World Cup. They are a hard-working group, many of whom have fought for years to get this kind of opportunity.
Thanks to the platform of soccer's biggest stage, recognition could finally be headed their way.
"There are so many guys who played a part in this," captain Clint Dempsey said after the Americans' thrilling win in Natal. "You can't name all of them, but they all deserve huge credit."
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There was Geoff Cameron, a rock in defense who plays for Stoke City, one of the most unfashionable teams in the English Premier League. And there was Kyle Beckerman, a veteran of Major League Soccer for more than a decade who made his World Cup debut at 32, a chance he had all but given up on.
And perhaps more than any of them, there was Alejandro Bedoya, who has not played for an American team other than the national side since he represented Boston College in 2008.
Plying his trade so far from home, and out of the spotlight of one of the most-watched European competitions, Bedoya could walk down any street in pretty much any American city and get less attention than a mediocre street musician.
That might change. The victory over Ghana was just one game, but the American public is getting to know these players and starting, or at least preparing to start, to fall in love with this team.
Bedoya was flooded with messages of well wishes in the hours following Monday's triumph and could not disguise his delight.
"I woke up this morning and you look on Instagram and Twitter and you see the videos people have posted and the reaction in bars," Bedoya said. "I feed off it. It is awesome. We are part of this movement to grow soccer in the States and it is really cool."
If the movement is to gain even more speed, the U.S. needs to keep going and keep performing in this World Cup. For that, it will need not only its stars but also its band of unsung workers.
- Sports & Recreation
- World Cup 2014