Most of the time, when a "promising," "up-and-coming," "dangerous" team is developing into an elite power, its progress resembles the climb of an elevator. The floor and the ceiling rise at the same pace. The team gets better when playing at its best, but it also gets reliably better when playing at its worst. Wins that once seemed crazy to think about (say, the Thunder rolling the Lakers) start to feel routine; losses that once seemed fairly normal (say, Manchester City hacking up a game to Everton) start to feel inexplicable and devastating. That's part of what getting good is: raising expectations at both ends of the spectrum, as well as all the points in between.
That sounds obvious, right? Well, for fans of the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team, maybe not so much. The USMNT has been "up-and-coming" for essentially the entire career span of the current generation of players, but rather than rising like an elevator, we seem to be stuck in a weird elevator-like contraption, one in which the ceiling keeps rising while the floor stays in the same damn place.