The World Cup gave another huge boost to soccer popularity in this country. But sustaining growth in the next four years will require more than just compelling soccer action. It will take intriguing and magnetic personalities in the same way that Tiger Woods turned some people into golf fans simply because they were drawn to his story.

For soccer, the man for this job might be Omar Gonzalez.

The Texas native has had great on-the-field success by winning an NCAA championship at Maryland and earning MLS defender of the year in 2011. And he can generate some buzz off the field as he did during his appearance Monday with Conan O'Brien. Among the topics discussed is Gonzalez's nude modeling for the ESPN Magazine "Body Issue."

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For the New England Revolution, Jerry Bengtson is a offensive threat to be used as a substitute if the team needs some offense. For the Honduran national team, Jerry Bengtson is Superman.

The 27-year-old forward led Honduras to back-to-back World Cup appearances for the first time ever. The 2014 World Cup was just the third ever appearance for Honduras (1982, 2010).

Bengtson burst on the international stage in the 2012 London Olympics in London. Bengtson led Honduras to a win over Spain in the group stage. Honduras finished third in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying in 2013. Bengtson had nine goals in qualifying, establishing him as one of CONCACAF's elite international strikers.

At the World Cup in Brazil, Honduras lost all three games in group play, placing 31 out of 32 teams. Only Cameroon had a worse goal differential than Honduras. After elimination, Bengtson and the rest of the Honduras team returned to their respective clubs.

Bengtson returned to the Revolution on Saturday in a loss against the Chicago Fire. Bengtson played 25 minutes and did not score a goal, but was a positive influence according to head coach Jay Heaps.

"I thought Jerry did a great job coming in and impacting the game," Heaps said.

Bengtson's next chance to help the Revolution is Wednesday against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

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The Derek Jeter Farewell Tour will now include a star-laden Jordan Brand TV commercial set to air before his first at-bat in his final All-Star Game on Tuesday.

Titled "RE2PECT" and released online Monday, the video shows fans, peers and icons acknowledging Jeter with a tip of the cap. The salutes ranges from little kids to the likes of Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, Billy Crystal, Joe Torre, Rudy Giuliani, Jay-Z, Spike Lee, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Carmelo Anthony and Tiger Woods.

And leave it to Mr. Met to add a nice comedic twist as he and three players from the Yankees' crosstown rivals are pixelated like members of the Federal Witness Protection Program.

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Netherlands manager Louis Van Gaal says that while he was with AZ Alkmaar, he taught Sergio Romero how to stop penalty kicks. Whether it was something he learned from Van Gaal or skills acquired elsewhere, Romero delivered in the clutch to oust the Netherlands and send Argentina into the World Cup championship game against Germany.

Romero became the most recent hero for Argentina by stopping two of the Netherlands four penalty kicks in the shootout after a 0-0 draw.

But before Romero became an international sensation for his penalty-kick heroics Wednesday, he was known for warming the bench for his club team in France.

The 27-year-old goalkeeper started in only three matches for Monaco last season, serving as Danijel Subasic's backup. Subasic was the second-string keeper for the Croatian National Team during the 2014 World Cup.

Throughout his up-and-down career, Romero has held the starting goalkeeper job for the Argentina National Team since the 2010 World Cup. During his time with the national team, Romero has started in 11 World Cup games and won a gold medal the 2008 Olympics.

Romero repaid manager Alejandro Sabella’s faith in him. Sabella had been the target of criticism by the Argentine media outlets for sticking with Romero. Now the papers in Argentina bear the headline "Hands of God," referring to the famous incident in 1986 where Diego Maradona intentionally handballed the ball into the goal.

Romero understands the task ahead of Argentina.

"Enjoy the moment, we will enjoy it and tomorrow we will start working for the final," he said. "I feel immense happiness, I'm really happy with everything. (Penalties) are a question of luck, that is the reality. I had confidence in myself and, fortunately, everything turned out well."

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When Alejandro Sabella became manager of Argentina's national team in 2011, he decided to make a change of captains. Sabella wanted Lionel Messi to wear the armband. Javier Mascherano, who had been the captain since 2008, gracefully handed over the captaincy to Messi.

But Mascherano remains an important leader for Argentina, which faces the Netherlands in the World Cup semifinal. The 30-year-old defensive midfielder is anchoring a defense that has not allowed a goal in the last 253 minutes of World Cup play.

It was Mascherano in the defensive midfield spot that stifled a Belgian attack that had launched 26 shots on goal against U.S. goalie Tim Howard. Belgium could only muster four shots on goal against Argentina's defense.

While Mascherano’s ability to defend is propelling Argentina into the semifinals for the first time since 1990, controlling his temper might be the best news this World Cup. Mascherano has a history of losing his temper for club and country.

Mascherano had the worst disciplinary record in the 2009-2010 season while playing with Liverpool in the English Premier League. Mascherano accumulated 12 yellow cards and two red cards during his final season with Liverpool, along with two yellow cards in four matches at the 2010 World Cup.

In the 2011 Copa America tournament, Mascherano would captain Argentina for the final time against Uruguay. After being sent off late in the game, Mascherano handed over the captain’s armband to his Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi. Argentina went on to lose that game in a shootout. During a World Cup qualifier against Ecuador last year, Mascherano was sent off the field for kicking the driver of the medical cart as he was wheeled off the field.

Mascherano's cooler side has prevailed this World Cup, earning zero cards in five appearances. But Mascherano admits it is going to take more than good behavior to advance.

"I think the word to use is intelligence," Mascherano said. "At this stage you play with heart and soul but you don't get anywhere if you’re not intelligent in the tactical aspect, managing the game."

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The popularity of the No. 10 in soccer has been credited to Pele, who wore it while leading Brazil to three World Cup titles from 1958-1970. The pressure associated with wearing No. 10 could have a negative affect any player. But Lionel Messi is not just any player.

According to Forbes, Messi made $65 million in salary and endorsements in the lpast 12 months. Messi has won three of the last four Ballon D’Or trophies, awarded to the top player in the world on a yearly basis.

Now Messi has led Argentina into the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Messi has scored four goals and tallied one assist, putting him in contention for the Golden Ball Award, given to the top player of the tournament.

The last time an Argentinian player won the Golden Ball, was in 1986 when Diego Maradona led his team to the World Cup title.

During his entire career, Messi has been compared to Maradona -- who also wore No. 10. Both are shorter in stature but large in foot talent. Both play with the ball at their feet, able to create an opportunity with just an inch of space opening between the defenders.

When Messi and Maradona paired up in 2010 as player and coach, the prospects for Argentina seemed as divine as Maradona's hand. The results fell far short of the expectations. Argentina was eliminated in the quarterfinals at the hands of Germany 4-0. Messi did not score during the 2010 World Cup. Maradona did not return to the team after the 2010 World Cup.

Where Messi and Maradona are different is off the field. Lionel Messi is not quiet off the field, but he has generated different kinds of headlines than Maradona. Messi has been seen with his son, Thiago, and making an appearance as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Messi is also on video game covers and advertisements for Turkish Airlines and Gillette. Messi has been on Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world list twice.

Maradona has had off-field incidents during and after his playing career. Maradona failed multiple drug tests as a player. Maradona suffered a heart attack caused by cocaine use in 2004. Maradona needed gastric bypass surgery in 2005 to get his weight under control. It was not until 2007 the Maradona announced he had quit drinking and stopped using drugs.

"I've always had my family really close by, and my friends," Messi told CNN. "The truth is that I've never been one to go out much, to go out partying. I've never had those problems because, yeah, my family has always helped me out with that."

Argentina plays Belgium on Saturday. Maradona scored both goals in 1986 when Argentina beat Belgium 2-0 in the semifinals. Barring injury, it would give Messi 91 caps for the national team, tied with Diego Maradona for sixth most in Argentina history.

"It's very special for me to wear the shirt of the national team," b>Messi told CNN. "I think it's a beautiful responsibility to be playing with this shirt, especially with such a football-crazy country watching everything we do. It's something very beautiful."

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Last week, we showed you a White House petition requesting the day of the U.S.-Germany World Cup game be a national holiday. It did not work.

Well, U.S. soccer fans are at it again. A petition to change the name of Washington National Airport (DCA) to Tim Howard National Airport was created Tuesday evening.

Before going any further, it should be made clear the airport, which opened in 1941, has not been known as Washington National Airport since 1998 when it was renamed Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

The petition's creator, identified as "S.O." from an anonymous residence, obviously has limited regard for the 40th president of the United States. He does, however, exhibit a point in his reasoning for a Tim Howard-related Washington D.C. landmark. There is one paragraph of text in the petition:

"Whereas Tim Howard has shown himself to be a national treasure, Minister of Defense, Friend of Joe Biden, and the holder for the record of most saves in a World Cup match; Therefore, we politely request that we rename the airport to recognize his accomplishments, and meritorious service to the United States of America."

On Tuesday evening in Salvador, Brazil, Howard had 16 saves in the USMNT's 2-1 loss to Belgium. The 16 saves were the most in a World Cup game in the past half-century. In a game the United States allowed 18 shots on goal and still managed to be alive until the bitter end, Howard was the difference maker.

Howard has played every minute of the USMNT's eight games at the past two World Cups. The 35-year-old, who 342 combined career appearances for English clubs Manchester United and Everton, may very well have played his final World Cup match Tuesday.

After the game, Howard expressed considerable emotion, and when asked about being under constant siege, he responded, "That's my job. That's what I signed up to do."

He did that job very well. Since the U.S. Team could not muster up the offense to give Howard's performance its due, this country should repay him. Would naming an airport in the nation's capital after him be too much?

The petition had more than 330 signatures at 11 p.m. ET Tuesday. Its listed goal is 100,000 signatures by July 31.

Update, 10:55 a.m. ET : At 4:15 a.m. Wednesday, ThePostGame (@Post_Game) received a tweet revealing the identity of S.O.:


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American fan interest in soccer got a big boost in 1994 when the United States hosted the World Cup for the only time. It was also the event that led U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez to pursue soccer.

Gonzalez, who made his World Cup debut June 22 against Portugal, was 5 in 1994. His mother, who grew up in Mexico and immigrated to the Dallas area, volunteered to help at early-round World Cup games at the Cotton Bowl. After learning that the games needed kids to help carry flags, she brought Omar and his three siblings to the stadium with her.

From Barry Horn's terrific profile of Gonzalez in the Dallas Morning News:

For the Gonzalez family, that World Cup’s defining moment may have come when Bebeto, the famed forward for Brazil, scored a goal in a quarterfinal match against the Netherlands. An entranced Omar watched as he celebrated with his trademark “rock the baby” cradled arm movement.

Soon after he told his mother he would like to grow up play professional soccer.

And so mother began tutoring son in the game she had studied watching her brother play in Mexico. Brother Adrian thought nothing of shooting BBs at a dodging Omar to improve his speed and quickness. Sister Roxanna drilled him in footwork skills.

Gonzalez went to play college soccer for the Maryland Terrapins and won a national championship. The LA Galaxy drafted him, and Gonzalez was the MLS defender of the year in 2011.

Gonzalez hurt his knee in early May, and he did not play in the World Cup opener against Ghana. He entered the game against Portugal in the final minutes as a substitute, but then was a starter against Germany.

"I keep telling myself I am here playing at this World Cup in Brazil and it is an unbelievable experience," Gonzalez told the Los Angeles Times. "But I don't think it is really going to set in until a few weeks after I am back home and have time to really sit down and think about this amazing experience."

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After a football career that included five diagnosed concussions, former Colts and Bengals tight end Ben Utecht began experiencing memory loss at age 30.

A father of three daughters, Utecht has testified on Capitol Hill that one of his girls told the family doctor that she sometimes becomes afraid of her father during his dark spells at home.

"That broke my heart," Utecht told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "It was a wakeup call."

To ensure that his daughters always know he cares for them, even if his concussions rob him of much of his memory, Utecht penned and recorded a heartwarming new song titled "You Will Always Be My Girls."

The 33-year-old Utecht has taken on a second career as a singer/songwriter, and he's performed at venues across the country.

In his new music video, in which Utecht is in a hospital presumably after suffering serious concussions symptoms, he promises he will always cherish his daughters (one is 5, and twins who are 3):

I can still feel you here
In this place beyond all tears
Where love does what it does
But stays, yes, it stays
And I will remember your smile and your laughter
Long ever after this moment is gone

In addition to his work as a singer/songwriter, Utecht has also become a prominent spokesman for organizations that study traumatic brain injury. He participated in the recent White House Concussion Summit and won a public leadership award from the American Academy of Neurology.

Utecht, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Colts in 2006, has experienced common post-concussion symptoms like amnesia, dizziness and sudden mood changes.

"It's really become a mission to help people who are suffering with brain disease,” he told the Star-Tribune. "I didn't begin to care about my mind until I began to lose my mind. You don’t really make it a priority until it begins to be affected.”

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When Jabari Parker was drafted second overall Thursday by the Milwaukee Bucks, he already had a national reputation. Parker was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school junior, then went to Duke where he averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds this past season, earning USBWA National Freshman of the Year honors.

But his humility and loyalty might not be as well known. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Parker has a strong religious faith. He considered BYU or going on a Mormon mission rather than attending Duke immediately after high school. He pondered the idea of coming back to Duke to get another year of education, despite being bound for the top three in the draft.

Parker made another unique statement when asked how much of the Bucks he has watched and how much he feels he fits in.

"They're a young team," Parker said. "I feel like I can contribute right off the bat. I feel like I'm going to be able to grow with that organization, and I'm trying to be a throwback player, only stick with one team."

Holy Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, John Havlicek, David Robinson, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan.

"This might bite me in the butt years from now, but right now I just want to stick with whoever's rolling with me," Parker said.

Oh, it certainly can. Jabari, you just broke NBA code. LeBron James is chuckling. Are you really going to get drafted by a small market team and not seek out a big contract in a big city?

For Parker, the situation in Milwaukee makes sense. He will be less than 100 miles from his hometown of Chicago, and he can be the face of the franchise with little pressure. He has a supporting cast featuring Brandon Knight, Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokoumpo.

"My parents can easily access me, and I also get to enjoy that Great Lake water again," he said of the team's location.

Parker may be ready, physically, for the NBA, but the NBA may not be ready for him. Parker's swagger is all related to his calm demeanor, not outwardly expression.

"What does the draft really give entitlement to, the best player?" he said. "You got Doug McDermott scoring 3,000 points. Shoot, Julius Randle went to the national championship. Shabazz Napier won two national championships. I mean, we're all good. We're all great players."

Welcome to the NBA, Jabari. And to us, welcome to Jabari Parker's NBA.

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