If the US Men’s National Soccer team fell down in the woods, would anyone hear?

I’m going to go ahead and write about soccer for the 2.2% of my readers that actually care about it.  (Note: that figure’s probably high).

It’s been a few years since I’ve touched upon the world’s most popular sport.  It’ll be another four before I do so again.

That’s because the United States men’s national team failed to qualify for the World Cup. (Yaaaaawwwwwnnnn!!!)

Their coming up short is not a total travesty, depending upon whom you ask.  In fact, with everything else that’s going on, pucks and pre-seasons, playoffs and protests, many of us hardly noticed.

I have friends that prioritize soccer.  They’re weird.

I’m talking about American friends too, born in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  Odd, right?  It’s perfectly natural for South Americans or Europeans to consume soccer as their lifeblood.  Their players are actually GOOD!  When Americans prioritize soccer over football, baseball, basketball, golf, hockey, poker, NASCAR, hot-air ballooning, spelling bees, dog shows and chess, well, it just seems out of place.

I overheard an interesting conversation the other day.  Those involved in it were discussing the “myth” that America is the greatest country in the world.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m an American and proud of it (sometimes).  There’s nowhere else on this planet I’d rather live.

But we are clearly not the greatest country in the world.  At least not at soccer.

Our men’s team just got beat by Trinidad & Tobago.  They’re the 99th best team in the world.  That’s middle-of-the-pack bad.  There are only 211 countries that even field a team!  USA’s loss to Trinidad is the equivalent of Appalachian State beating Michigan in the big house multiplied by Lyle Lovett dating Julia Roberts.  In real life, these things don’t happen.  Oh, but they do, especially if you’re US Men’s Soccer.

You know whose soccer team is ranked higher than Trinidad & Tobago?  The national team from the Faroe Islands.  Have you ever heard of the Faroe Islands?  I haven’t.  To put into perspective just how bad and now irrelevant the US national team is, I looked it up.  The Faroe Islands are a Danish archipelago with a population of just under 50,000 people.  And they’d beat us at soccer.

If you’re reading this, the odds are pretty good that a) you’re not in a Danish archipelago and b) you live in a town with a population of more than 50,000 people.  You’re also now aware that the US Men’s Soccer team is another abysmal example of why soccer is irrelevant for young American men.  I clarify men’s soccer because the woman’s team has won the World Cup three times, most recently in 2015.  They are currently the top ranked team in the world, and are in no way, shape or form to be confused with the futility of their Y-chromosomed counterparts.

We can now go on debating what to do next so that men’s soccer, coming from “the greatest country in the world,” doesn’t get embarrassed on the international stage.

I’m almost fifty years old.  For my entire lifetime, the US has been trying to force feed us soccer, making it mainstream.  It hasn’t happened.  We even began manufacturing MLS teams in random cities around the country and gave them kitschy names that begin with “FC” to see if it’d catch on.  (Note: FC stands for football club, I think.)  We paid David Beckham hundreds of millions of dollars to play in L.A., once his competitive playing career was essentially over.  Only in America.  We are the only country dumb enough to do so.  That move may have even pushed soccer past air-ballooning in popularity, but just barely.

Soccer still hasn’t caught on, at least not amongst the masses.  So, I have an idea to help the next generation, for what it’s worth.

In 1988, the US Men’s basketball team took bronze in the Olympics.  It was only the second time they didn’t win the gold medal.  As Jack McCollum wrote in Dream Team, we became “determined to restore America’s lost basketball dignity.”  The Dream Team became an international spectacle based on substance and star power.  It remains to this day the greatest team ever assembled.

We don’t have any Michael Jordans or Magic Johnsons playing soccer but that doesn’t mean we can’t begin the process of finding them.  In this day and age, maybe holding tryouts on reality TV would generate the interest required in fielding a competitive team.  It can’t hurt, right?  I mean, if we can find Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood on reality singing shows, then maybe we can find the next Christian Pulisic kicking a ball around somewhere on a soccer field in Iowa.

Either that or we can just fly off to the Danish archipelagos and watch some real soccer.  Or a solid option C is maintain the status quo and continue not caring.

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17 Replies to “If the US Men’s National Soccer team fell down in the woods, would anyone hear?”

  1. Let me ask you this question Chris , how good do you really believe the US Men’s National Soccer Team to be ? I mean who have they beaten of note in international competition much less in a friendly international game over the last three seasons ?

    In all honesty the only reason to take an interest in the game here in the US has been down to the success of Women’s National Team and that has been it. Put everything into perspective and see it all for what it really is because clearly critics such as former players Alexi Lalas and Taylor Twellman don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. The criticism is mere angst , rather than their being able to come up with a solution.

  2. I think we should take the Bill Veeck approach and load the team with midgets. I know this may seem insensitive to midgets, but a paycheck is a paycheck.

  3. Partykiller…

    I’ll place you in my 50/50 crowd.

    Half in the sense that you spent time growing up overseas so you’re interest in soccer is at least a little justifiable.

    The other half is, like I said in the post, just weird.

    But you knew that already.

  4. Al…

    I don’t know that a World Cup title is ever in the cards (not unless all of Europe and Latin America protest the tournament) but I do believe the USA should at least be competing for a Sweet 16 or Elite 8 spot every four years.

    That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

  5. Sportschump, I’m hoping that we can categorize your naïveté in one of two ways that A) you don’t have kids or B) you’ve spent too much time behind a bar and don’t get out much. Let me explain my point. In 2017 almost 4 million kids in this country signed up to participate in youth soccer, to give you an idea that number was 100,000 40 years ago. The majority of kids nowadays turn to soccer because baseball they consider to be “boring” (can’t blame them there) and Football is considered to be too dangerous to play anymore due to concussions and injuries. Participation in youth football is down significantly in the last 10 year’s and continues to decline.
    I was at a stadium in Miami this past July 29th where 67,000 people showed up to watch a soccer game in what amounted to be an exhibition game between two teams that weren’t even from this country, it was an impressive sight.
    I would venture if you ask kids under the age of 12 what name is more recognizable to them and I’m willing to bet that in their answers you’ll hear a name like Messi or Ronaldo before they mention Bryce Harper or Aaron Judge.
    We need to let the game evolve into its place in American culture. Let people decide if it’s more interesting than baseball and less violent than football. An American (Pulisic) is actually the hottest and youngest star on the international scene right now, we didn’t make the World Cup I get it and it sucks but don’t broad brush the sport because of it. So please go outside, take the blinders off and take in a few games. Goooooooool!!

  6. Good one, Chris, that needed to be said. This country just isn’t very good at men’s soccer, and isn’t interested in it either, despite ESPN’s efforts to sell it to us. I have friends that like soccer, and they are fans of clubs like Juventus, Liverpool, Real Madrid, etc. Sometimes when their teams have a big match I watch it, because it’s important to them, and we can discuss it afterwards. As I watch, I try to get interested in it, but I’m always watching the clock and hoping for a corner kick or penalty shot. Yawn. I appreciate the skills of the players, just like I appreciate the athleticism of Cirque Du Soleil, but they are both boring to watch for two hours.

  7. In 4 years there will be more talented and mostly different faces on the squad. G Tim Howard will be an analyst ’cause he lost it as a goalie.

  8. Kid Sheraton…

    So in other words, we have to wait another ten years for US Soccer to be good?

    Okay, I’ll be patient.

    And when Mikey makes the national squad, I’ll be his number one fan!

  9. Doc B…

    Kid Sheraton’s comments are on point… hopefully.

    My only concern is, we’ve had kids playing soccer for generations and they always transfer to playing other sports.

    Hopefully it won’t take the death of football to create the birth of soccer.

  10. Chris

    We Europeans call it (soccer) ‘ The Beautiful Game ‘. The US has turned into a mockery on so many levels when it comes to the Men’s National Team. Other than Tim Howard , the US hasn’t produced a world class soccer star whose name is recognized across the globe.

    This is head coach Bruce Arena’s second stint behind the wheel and this time around , his tenure is just as disastruous as his first tenure ended.

    Sunil Gulati as Chairman of US Soccer needs to step down and the governing body needs to hire a person of subtance whose knowledge on the international stage is good enough to guide the hierarchy moving forward. Even at the domestic level , MLS (Major League Soccer) remains a joke and even the best teams in that league can’t even compete with the best that Latin America has to offer much less against the best of club sides in Europe , Asia or even Africa for that matter.

    It’s neither a privilege or a right to expect Team USA to make to quarter finals or beyond of a major international competition such as the World Cup . In all honesty , they’re not and never were that good to begin with.

    Red Sox are contemplating getting rid of John Farrell after their showing against the Astros.

    On lighter note , Mike Ditka has suddenly realized the NFL isn’t a century old and that the oppression of blacks wasn’t a fable . What the ###k was he thinking when he made that comment suggesting blacks haven’t felt any type of oppression over the last 100 years ? Ditka has taken far too many hits to the head.

    Adrian Peterson actually prayed to God (his own words) asking for the move to the Cardinals ? Damn , it must have been a light day for the deity to have granted that wish . LOL, LOL,LOL !!!! Drew Brees is now
    praying to God, asking for a receiver worth a damn . Ex Dolphins’ cocach Chris Foerster’s stripper squeeze (Kijuana Nige) says she’s up for the challenge of receiving anything Drew has to offer.

  11. Really nice points by Kid Sheraton. The avoidance of head injuries in football could send good athletes toward soccer. We differ in our enjoyment of sports. He finds baseball to be boring, I don’t, I went to 37 Pirates games this year, and I enjoyed them all.

    If we are going to join the world in following soccer, could we also join them in having universal healthcare?

  12. Pingback: Can America’s NWSL sustain its 2019 growth? | Sports Chump

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