White House: Soccer team an inspiration

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The White House on Wednesday extended its congratulations to the U.S. men's national soccer team after a devastating overtime loss to Belgium eliminated the team from the World Cup.

"I think we can all agree that while the outcome wasn't what we'd hoped for, that the U.S. men's national soccer team gave us all another reason to be proud to be American," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. "Their performance on the field was terrific."

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Earnest said the U.S. team "performed admirably" throughout the tournament and said he hoped the team would inspire future generations of American athletes.

"It's not too hard to imagine that maybe in 2030, for example, there might be a U.S. men's national soccer team that comes to the White House to celebrate an achievement of some kind," Earnest said.

"And I suspect that when you're talking to those players, that they may harken back to being 8 or 10 or 12 years old and having watched the 2014 men's national team and that they'll remember the performance of people like Tim Howard and Julian Green and Omar Gonzalez and Graham Zusi, that these players who performed so well this year served as an inspiration to the next generation of American soccer players."

Earnest was asked about the emerging Internet meme that had labeled Howard, who set a World Cup record with 16 saves, as the U.S. secretary of Defense.

Earnest quipped that he did not "have any personnel announcements to make," before saying the actual Pentagon head, Chuck Hagel, would agree Howard "demonstrated an ability to repel an opponent’s attacks with remarkable courage."

On Tuesday, President Obama dropped in on a White House watch party, catching part of the game with about 200 staff members following the game in the Old Executive Office Building auditorium.