You don't win at the World Cup by being 31st out of 32 teams in time of possession.
You don't win by getting outshot by roughly 20. You don't win by being unable to keep the bal out of your end, and you don't win by scoring 5 goals in 4 games. Even when your keeper stands on his head and does everything but polymorph himself into an Ancient Red Dragon to keep the ball out of the goal, that's just stuff you can't overcome.
Nobody thought the USMNT would get this far. Nobody thought they'd make it out of the Group of Death (even with help from Portugal). Nobody thought they'd outlast traditional powerhouses like Italy or England or Portugal or Spain.
So for now, the hell with all the nitpicking and the unpleasant truths about stuff they're going to have to work on for 2018. It was a hell of a run. It was some - and I don't use these two words together lightly - exciting soccer. And it was fun watching the entire country, Smeagol Coulter excluded, come together as we tried on the shared underdog fantasy for a while.
I suspect many people with many viewpoints will try to use this as proof that soccer has/hasn't arrived in the US, and that there will be a great deal of hot air expended by people employed by Fox and ESPN (both of whom have invested heavily in soccer broadcast rights in the US) talking about how this is a "turning point" in US viewing habits.
I'm less inclined to agree - after all, every 4 years we get excited about curling if it looks like we have a chance to win - but honestly, I don't care. It was a great time. It was a great effort. It was a hell of a lot of fun watching my coworkers sprawled out en masse in the big room in the center of the studio with spouses and kids and free popcorn, all cheering together. And that's enough; it doesn't have to be anything more.
At least, not until 2018, when Tim Howard will be 39, the games will start at 5 in the morning, and we'll do this all over again.