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Rants, raves greet U.S. World Cup play

Germany's defeat of the U.S. team draws praise from supporters happy the country made it so far and ill sentiment from soccer devotees who believe the U.S. received lucky breaks.

Minutes after the whistle blew, signaling the United States' defeat by Germany on Friday, World Cup fans turned to the Web to express amazement, vent frustrations and even take a few shots at the team's unexpected success.

Friday's match marked the U.S. team's first quarterfinal game in World Cup history, a surprise after it finished last in the 1998 tournament. This year, the United States upset a heavily favored Portugal, tied the relentless South Koreans, and shut out regional rival Mexico in elimination play.

But the nail-biter against Germany prompted some international soccer devotees to tip their hats to the U.S. team. The United States' surprising run won an ounce of respect from some soccer-crazed fans overseas.

"It was really close and nice surprise to the world! You should be proud of your team," a fan claiming to be from Korea wrote on a Yahoo message board. "I hope Korean team will be another big surprise tomorrow."

But not everyone was shouting praise. The majority of World Cup postings on Internet message boards complained about the United States' unwelcome presence in the tournament as discussion about soccer inevitably turned political.

"USA is not as good as it seems," one Web user wrote on Yahoo. "They run their mouth, sell bombs, pollute, cause wars...USA is a bad country and Germany sent them back home."

Added one posting on MSN: "Koreans will dominate! The Americans were a surprise at how good they did compared to their less than perfect performance last time. Just watch at how well the Asians will surprise you!"

High on the debate list before the Germany match was whether the U.S. team qualified on its own merits or was the recipient of some lucky breaks. There were endless arguments about whether the United States would have fallen before the second round if South Korea had not defeated Portugal. Many pro-Mexico fans also expressed outrage over the referee who missed a U.S. defender batting away the ball with his arm, which should have allowed Mexico a penalty kick.

Discussions also focused on whether a successful U.S. World Cup team would corrupt the otherwise America-free soccer world. But many fans, especially Americans, turned to the Web to praise a U.S. team that finally pulled itself out of the dregs.

"I think we should be very proud of our team," one reader wrote on Yahoo. "They played well...and gave a formidable opponent a run for its money. Let's look at this game as the starting point for a U.S. surge in soccer!"