The United States simply can't get enough of its World Cup soccer team.
And why not?
This upstart band of Americans already has overachieved.
They did that by advancing out of Group G, which rightfully was dubbed the Group of Death.
While it was the U.S. who was supposed to die, that didn't happen.
The Americans beat Ghana in their opening match, tied the No. 4 team in the world in Portugal the next time out and gave the all-powerful German squad all it wanted before dropping a 1-0 decision in their final Group G matchup.
As a result, the U.S. has advanced to what soccer calls its Elimination Round but we would call it the Sweet 16.
Call it whatever you like, but at 4 p.m. today make sure you tune in to watch America meet Belgium with a berth in the quarterfinals or the Elite 8 on the line.
Once again, America is the underdog.
It's a role the U.S. seems to relish.
It wasn't favored to win any of its three opening-round games.
It was supposed to already have left Brazil with nothing to show for its efforts.
But this team, thanks to its aggressive, relentless play and the leadership of coach Jurgen Klinsmann, not only is still alive and kicking, but it also has captured the hearts of the entire nation, even though it participates in a sport few understand.
We understand enough to know those guys wearing the red, white and blue uniforms are spilling out their guts and representing us like perhaps none of their predecessors.
They've become - to steal a line from the Atlanta Braves and/or the Dallas Cowboys-America's Team.
A team that leaves nothing on the pitch.
That goes all-out from start to finish. That would rather play an ultra-aggressive, all-out style and leave nothing on the field in a sport where patience often is a virtue.
This is a blue collar team.
It doesn't have a Ronaldo like Portugal.
Or a Lionel Messi like Argentina, who the U.S. would next meet if it wins today.
Rather, it is a hodgepodge of grizzled veterans and exuberant youths who Klinsmann has molded into a well-oiled machine.
One that like a Timex watch can take a licking and keep on ticking.
One that due to lack of depth runs down but never runs away.
I've never seen so much interest in soccer.
It has to be good for the sport if for no other reason that it will be able to introduce itself to a large group of potential fans.
Fans whose main interest is pulling for those representing their country, but in doing so will learn enough about the game to perhaps become fans for life.
Count me in that group. My soccer IQ has reached an all-time high.
And while I'm supposed to be a neutral observer, the words for the day are Go USA!
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org