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The Black Stars took out the Stars and Stripes at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, just as they did back in Germany in 2006, when Ghana also beat the U.S. 2-1, albeit in the finale of group play.

It was an even stronger case of deja vu all over again for Mexico: El Tri fell to Argentina in the round of 16 in South Africa, just as it had four years ago.

Those results are certain to leave ESPN/ABC and Univision lighter with the Nielsens as the tourney proceeds into the quarters and beyond.

For all the buzz the U.S. gained with Landon Donovan’s stoppage time goal against Algeria to put Sam’s Army at the top of Group C, the disappointing loss on Saturday– could a Yank striker please put one in the back of the onion bag, as Tommy Smyth no doubt said on ESPN Radio coverage at some point during the tourney — no doubt damped soccer fever in the States. To what degree is the question.

If the U.S. had just beaten Ghana and advanced to the quarterfinals against Uruguay on July 2… Win or lose, folks would have been talking about U.S. soccer and the match — along with pennant races and NBA free-agent chases — at beaches, cook-outs and fireworks over the Fourth of July weekend.

Instead, Sam’s Army is coming home as the tourney moves on. Hopefully, most of the viewers won’t be moving away from their varied screens with the departures of U.S. and Mexico.

That will be a true litmus test to just how far futbol’s star has risen in this country.