Following the U.S.'s elimination from the World Cup with a 2-1 extra-time loss to Belgium, President Obama called team captain Clint Dempsey and goalkeeper/the people's secretary of defense Tim Howard to congratulate them on a job well done. He also told them that they have helped push the sport to new heights in the U.S.
"As somebody whose first sport was soccer — although I was never that good — to see the way you guys captured the hearts and the imaginations of the whole country is unbelievable," Obama said. "And obviously the sport's been growing steadily just because so many kids are playing it at a young age, but this was the first time where I think you really ended up having an entire country focused."
Judging by the record TV ratings and massive watch parties for the team's matches in the U.S., it would seem the president is correct. And he pinpointed what it was about the team, aside from the exciting matches they produced, that had the country rallying around them.
"You guys just carry yourselves with a lot of class," Obama explained. "And it makes people really respect the sport and you guys are really great models for a lot of sportsmen here in the states."
He also suggested that Howard might have to shave his beard to avoid the being mobbed by fans upon returning home from Brazil.
Current U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel also called Howard, who was briefly given the job on Wikipedia after his World Cup record 16-save performance. Hagel told the 35-year-old goalkeeper that "with some training, he could one day become the real Secretary of Defense." But Howard did not respond by pointing out that no amount of training has helped anyone else record 16 saves in a World Cup match.