USA exit Brazil: no dream Jozy return but the stuff of legends

Grant Tunkel
Grant Tunkel

Grant Tunkel‘s reports from the other side of the Atlantic, chronicling the pride and joy inspired by USA performances at Brazil 2014, have given a valuable extra dimension to our World Cup coverage. Before he reverts to writing as an American Sunderland supporter, here – delayed by his own sporting commitments (he had a game immediately after the Belgium match) – are his thoughts on a noble exit …

From US Soccer's official reply feed for the #USMNT
From US Soccer’s official reply feed for the #USMNT

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Brazil 2014: Belgium are a surmountable obstacle as USA ‘dare to dream’


It used to be said that football could never be popular in the USA because the country had no interest in a sport it couldn’t win. Has Brazil 2014 finally changed that? The fans in the stadiums and on social media are vocal enough but what about the broader picture? With a last 16 tie with Belgium looming, it would fascinating to hear from our Sunderland-supporting American correspondent Grant Tunkel how the team’s impressive progress is being received back home.

For now, he reflects on J├╝rgen Klinsmann’s success in leading the USA out of tricky group stage – a much tougher task than faced much-praised France – despite a narrow defeat to Germany. Cue a Jozy Altidore goal or two on return from injury to see off the Belgians? …

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Brazil 2014: our man singing The Star-spangled Banner hails USA heroics

'Our team' now, Jake ...
‘Our team’ now, Jake …

With England out, the Salut! Sunderland readership choice of the USA makes them our Brazil 2014 team. Our US correspondent Grant Tunkel rode an uncontrollable rollercoaster of emotions, from hope to dismay to ecstasy to last-ditch disappointment to pride, as the USA recovered from a woeful start against Portugal, deservedly equalised, even more deservedly led and then suffered the cruel injustice of the loss of two points in the dying seconds. That man Ronaldo, mastered for huge chunks of the game, popped up with a magical cross and 2-1 was suddenly 2-2.

Progress can still be ensured by avoiding defeat in the last game of the group stage and Ghana have shown Germany can be matched. Now read and feel Grant’s report …

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Brazil 2014: USA 2 Ghana 1 viewed from NYC as Jozy exits

Is it starting to feel like 'our team', Jake?
Is it starting to feel like ‘our team’, Jake?

Typical. Sunderland’s one man at Brazil 2014 – we can no longer count Ki – sees his first game and presumably his World Cup end after 20 minutes. Poor Jozy Altidore. After a rotten season, his goals in the warm-up had given hope. He had one chance before his hamstring injury and, though not clearcut (the ball ran behind him), ought have done better with it.

In the end, the USA, ahead in the first minute but pegged back by a late equaliser created by Asamoah Gyan, whose performance deepened the disbelief that he should have chosen lower-league level football and desert gold over the Premier, snatched a dramatic win. It was fitting that a country chosen by Salut! Sunderland as their honorary second team in Brazil should make a winning start. Our Californian Dreaming columnist Grant Tunkel, a Sunderland supporter out west, was over on the Eastern seaboard to share the delirium of fellow Americans in a NYC bar. Yep, bar …

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Trust in Gus starts paying off as ‘impossible’ loses ‘im’ at Chelsea

Jake: 'this is what we've got at last'
Jake: ‘this is what we’ve got at last’

No Sixer’s Soapbox from this of all games. Pete Sixsmith announced a few weeks ago that he would not be at Chelsea – has he now relented over Man Utd? – but the decision had much less to do with Sunderland’s then quite hopeless plight than his disdain for Stamford Bridge and those who inhabit it. Ray Knight’s excellent, and amusing Chelsea ‘Who are You?’ made me warm to Chelsea supporters a little (I had already felt pleased when they beat PSG), until one Peter Scott began a series of incomprehensible, condescending postings after my own report at ESPN.

So no Sixer to record this momentous victory. Let a recent addition to the ranks of contributors, Grant Tunkel, offer his own sunny view from California …

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In Jozy’s defence: ‘man on a mission to man on an island’

Like this, says Jake
Like this, says Jake

Salut! Sunderland welcomes a new contributor, Grant Tunkel*, an American journalist drawn to SAFC by the signing of Jozy Altidore. Altidore gets a lot of stick. Some of this, M Salut, feels, is unfair given the thankless role he often plays and the pitiful service he receives. What is difficult to overlook, however, is that he is a striker who doesn’t score and that, to put it mildly, is a serious defect. For his first piece, Grant reflects on the big man’s form and offers some encouragement. California Dreaming is a first thought as generic title for his offerings and, as is our custom with practitioners of other forms of English, the Americanisms remain. NB: ‘behoove’, a verb seen here for the first time, has impeccable Old English origins . …

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