ZURICH -- For 80 minutes against Switzerland, it was arguably the most impressive performance the U.S. national team had produced since the World Cup.
Then forward Jozy Altidore was issued a game-changing -- and completely avoidable -- red card for a profanity-filled tirade on referee Luca Banti, forcing his teammates to play the final 22 minutes of the match down a man.
Xherdan Shaqiri's impudent back-heel goal for Switzerland in the 4-0 win over Lithuania on Saturday is a timely reminder of the undoubted quality of a player who has been languishing for too long on the fringes at his club Bayern Munich.
Shaqiri is already in his third season in Bavaria with 11 goals in 51 Bundesliga appearances. But sadly for the Swiss midfield star, he remains little more than a bit-part player at the German champions, and the signs are that the situation won't change any time...
Three conclusions on England's 2-0 victory over Switzerland in Basel that got their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign off to a winning start.
1. Welbeck's hits and misses
Danny Welbeck has long been a polarising figure in English football and you only have to chart his progress in recent days to appreciate as much. Welbeck's ability to find the back of the net was questioned during the opening phase of his career with Manchester United and England, and the reaction to his move to Arsenal on transfer...
This is what you want from an opening weekend. Switzerland's top flight saw St Gallen draw 2-2 at home to Young Boys, but there was a goal of majestic class, of precise finishing and perfect delivery. Perfect, except for the fact it was scored at the wrong end.
Young Boys' 27-year-old Serbian midfielder Milan Gajic can take a bow, son. Although his effort won't be remembered favourably by his own fans.
Switzerland have bowed out of the World Cup at the last 16 and ESPNFC blogger Brian Homewood gives his verdict on the brighter points of the campaign, as well as what went wrong.
One sentence, World Cup recap
Switzerland, aiming for the last 16, reached their declared target, cast off their "boring" tag and left a young, talented team that should serve incoming coach Vladimir Petkovic for several years to come.
Let's talk positives, America. Yes, you're out of the World Cup and it's going to feel pretty bad right now. I've been there. I'm English. We used to be good at football too. You're going to sit in the office, your eyes glazed, your mind screening an internal GIF of that late free-kick that so nearly allowed Clint Dempsey to score the equaliser. Later, someone's going to ask you what you think will happen when Germany and France meet this the weekend and you're going to turn on them with blazing...