An American Soccer Rant
As the World Cup kicks off in Brazil I can’t help but think what I always seem to think every four years in June. Why the hell can’t the United States put a decent soccer team together? I mean we have one of the most populated countries in the world, so it’s not for a lack of people to choose from. Out of 300 million people, wouldn’t you think we could find 25 really good soccer players. That’s all, just 25 guys who are world class. You really wouldn’t even need 25, like most team sports, you really only need a handful of great players and the rest would be role players. So why can’t we find 6 great soccer players in this country. The women have figured out how to do it. Our women’s team is world class, the men aren’t even in class.
You can find 6 great basketball players on any playground in Chicago or New York or Los Angeles. Pick a top high school in Texas and there’s a good chance you’ll find 6 future NFL prospects. The best golfers in the world come from U.S. soil, and so on and so on. So what’s the deal with soccer? People will argue that the best soccer squads are made up of players who come from underprivileged backgrounds in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Portugal and Colombia. Their top athletes have only one chance to get out of poverty–soccer. But the same could be said in the U.S. Our poor may be a lot better off than the poor of most other countries, but many still feel the same desperation to escape via sports. A lot of our top athletes come from tough economic circumstances, and most go into basketball or football (or baseball to a lesser degree). But wouldn’t you think there would be that handful that, even by mistake, went out for the 7th grade soccer team instead of basketball?
Just the way Tiger Woods changed golf by being a great athlete in a non-traditional sport, wouldn’t you think some young athletically-gifted kid would say to himself, “I want to be the greatest soccer player this country has ever seen?” That might be all it would take, one kid who wants to travel a different road than LeBron James or Adrian Peterson. Even though this country doesn’t swoon over soccer like the rest of the world does, when you watch the World Cup you get to see the madness, the intensity and the passion that the planet feels for the game. That should rub off on one kid, or one Earl Woods-like parent who decides that his 3-year-old son is going to be the best soccer player in the world.
I don’t know about you, but I get real tired of the experts repeatedly predicting that the U.S. will be lucky to make it out of their opening round. We’re not only NEVER a favorite, we’re often times an underdog to teams from Ghana or Trinidad or Belgium…Belgium for God’s sake! Other than chocolate and Stella Artois, what does that country ever produce? But put the U.S. national team up against Belgium and they beat us 9 out of 10 times. Even our new manager (head coach) Jurgen Klinsmann, proclaimed to the media earlier this week that the U.S. doesn’t have a chance to win the Cup. He’s building for the future. Listen, the United States national soccer team has been building for the future since I was in grade school, and that was a LONG time ago.
I love watching the World Cup every 4 years, and I think I have a healthy appreciation for the game. But I’m so tired of watching us struggle to win 2 lousy games. I hope before I go to that giant pitch in the sky, that I witness the U.S. holding up that ugly trophy. I’ll be so proud I’ll paint my face red, white and blue.