Is Landon Donovan’s goal the epic moment that will push soccer ahead of the NFL, NBA, Mixed Martial Arts, and the World Poker Tour?

Probably not.

But that doesn’t mean soccer isn’t relevant, “the beautiful game,” or worth watching on Saturday as Team USA takes on Ghana.

Every four years just about every sports talking head describes a FIFA World Cup match as “the most important soccer event in United States history.” Most of these matches are in pool play, shown in the U.S. at 9 a.m. (if you live on the East coast), and showcased in newspapers and on web sites alongside a stock photo of a guy with a painted face, wrapped in an America flag, and in the midst of some song, surrounded by international fans who have not taken a vacation in the last 3.5 years so they could save up to spend a month at the World Cup. You can copy/paste the words and images from 2002 to 2006 to 2010.

Landon Donovan’s goal on Wednesday in stoppage time in a win-or-go-home setting was a great sports moment. I started my lunch at 10 a.m. to join a friend at a local restaurant to watch all 90+ minutes of action. And, for a 1-nil match, there was a lot of action and scoring chances (aided by the fact that both the U.S. and Algeria had to win the match – a tie meant neither would advance to the knock-out round – so they were more aggressive in pushing players forward at the risk of a counter-attack).

What happens in the weeks following Team USA’s exit from the World Cup is also a copy/paste. Columnists one after another write “the five things I would change about soccer to make it more popular in the U.S.” They miss the beauty of the World Cup when writing this. Americans rally around our national soccer team every four years with much more enthusiasm than attempting to fill Major League Soccer stadiums because it’s one of the few times when America is the underdog, it’s “us against the world.” How many times have you driven your car to a BW3s at 8 a.m. to watch Kobe Bryant and LeBron James dominate Brazil in the quarterfinals of the Summer Olympic Games? You don’t paint your face for a blow-out or even a guaranteed win, even if it is USA on their chests instead of Cleveland.

Let’s appreciate this month and the special moments such as Donovan’s goal for the patriotic excitement they truly are, not as the one moment that will spark a soccer revolution in our country. That is not going to happen in America and let me tell you why in a paragraph and not a column. Americans want numbers, scores, stats, results. Parents put their kids on soccer fields to get them exercise and tire them out at the age of 6. After two years when young Johnny hasn’t come home with a goal and a sense of accomplishment, he takes up basketball or baseball or football or golf where he is guaranteed a shot, rebound, at-bat, put-out, carry, tackle, swing, or a par among 18 holes. You have a way to quantify your day when grandpa asks “How was the game today, Johnny?” America, more than any place in the world most likely, needs a result or a stat to show your individual relevance. That has helped us as a country in many regards, but it is a detrement in our appreciation of soccer. Can you imagine a Fantasy Soccer League? How would you rank your defenses if interceptions, forced fumbles, and punt return yardage can’t be kept? Have you ever tried to write a game recap for a nil-nil tie? Trying writing a few paragraphs. That was part of my job for a few yeras. See how it goes. It is damn tough.

Americans also hate the tie; we need a winner and a loser. Someone to glorify; someone to blame. If you leave the field even, you get very little of that. Hockey finally picked up on this after their lockout and went to the shootout. (They also opened up their rules to promote more goal-scoring, but that is another point for another day.)

There is a large difference between popular and appreciation that fans, columnists, and radio call-in guys do not convey when they will begin to critique the game of soccer in the coming weeks. Other sports and the popularity of those sports have ruined the appreciation for the game of soccer here in America. And that is unfair. Just because MLS doesn’t have a billion-dollar television package like other leagues doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the sport of soccer and get caught up in the patriotism and pageantry of the World Cup this month.

I mean you have to appreciate a sport where you “train” instead of “practice.” Soccer players and Rocky Balboa are the only ones who do that.