Turns out Jurgen Klinsmann was right: The United States isn't ready to win the World Cup.
The Americans were eliminated in the round of 16 for the second straight tournament. They've been ranked 13th or 14th every month since September, which means their exit was pretty much at the stage it's expected to be.
"Clearly it gives you the message you have a lot of work still ahead of you," the U.S. coach said Wednesday, a day after the 2-1 loss to Belgium in extra time.
From Wall Street to the White House to the West Coast, Americans watched their national team on television in record numbers. While buoyed by the increase in attention, players are desperate to join the world's elite and far from attaining that level.
Klinsmann, was a World Cup champion as a player with West Germany in 1990 and coach of the German team that reached the 2006 semifinals. His message to players is they don't do enough. They don't play twice a week, like Champions League stars. They don't face condemnation from their community after losses and poor performances.
"It makes them feel accountable, not just walk away with a bad performance and nothing happens," he said. "If you have a bad performance, then people should approach you and tell you that, so make sure that next game is not bad anymore and that you step it up."
President Barack Obama spoke to captain Clint Dempsey and goalkeeper Tim Howard on Wednesday to congratulate the team on its performance.
The Americans' final match, which kicked off at 4 p.m. EDT on a weekday, was seen by 21.6 million on ESPN and Univision, impressively close to the record 24.7 million set for a Sunday evening game against Portugal earlier in the tournament.
"People now start to care about it. Fans care about it. They comment on social media. They comment everywhere about it, and that's good," Klinsmann said.
Match-fixing allegation: FIFA expressed "substantial doubts" about a German magazine's claims that a World Cup game could have been fixed and asked the publication to provide evidence to back up its report that a renowned match-fixer accurately predicted details of the match hours before it kicked off.
FIFA said it wants Der Spiegel to provide details of all its conversations with convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal to prove its claim that Cameroon's 4-0 loss to Croatia on June 18 might have been fixed.
Too much drunkenness?: FIFA's number two official has said he's "amazed" by the levels of drunkenness in Brazil's World Cup stadiums, reviving a debate over whether alcohol sales should have been allowed at matches in the first place.
In an interview with Brazil's sports television network SporTV, Jerome Valcke acknowledged that "maybe there were too many people who were drunk" at the matches and pointed to the connection between inebriation and violence.
Brazil banned alcohol sales at soccer matches in 2003 in a bid to curb fan violence. But Budweiser is a major World Cup sponsor, and FIFA insisted Brazil lift the ban in order to host the event.