Hey, did you guys realize that Major League Soccer started last week? No? Me neither!
I remember 1994 when the World Cup came to the United States. It was one of the best summers of my life. Like every kid in my small town, I grew up playing soccer. I remember thinking that finally, Americans would really start liking soccer and maybe one day we’d have professional teams. The stadiums were packed! They were chanting the STUPIDEST chant known to any sport, “Ole, ole, ole, ole! USA! USA!” Like, we’re so unoriginal that we have to latch on to another country’s chant because we can’t think of our own.
And now we’re building a wall. Dumbest. Country. Ever.
But anyway, it was awesome. I remember World Cup fever and how you could buy World Cup stuff everywhere. I even bought the trading cards and attempted to collect them all. My most prized possession was an Italy t-shirt that my brother subsequently ruined by squirting silver car wax on it by mistake. (True story. I was wearing it and he couldn’t get the stopper out. He pointed it at me and squeezed it. I subsequently hate him forever).
I begged my parents to take me to a match. Italy played in Giants Stadium! They were like, RIGHT THERE! Tickets were $60, which in 1994 was like $200. The answer was NO. I subsequently hate my parents forever.
Remember Tony Meola? America loved this man so much. We loved him so much that we tried to turn a goalie into a kicker for football. It did not go well. We put the man in a Jets uniform and trotted him out onto a soccer field and told him to kick the ball into the goal, which is like telling a dentist to punch out his own perfectly good teeth for fun. He ended up so dejected that he started a mortgage company.
That is the most American thing ever. Let’s take a great athlete in a sport that’s revered around the world and try to make him play a sport we like better. Because we can’t like the sport other countries like, because we’re AMERICA. The most hipster country in the world.
I guess we still think we’re too cool for soccer.
What’s Next for US Soccer?
Where am I going with this? I don’t know. But what I’m trying to say is that we have it all wrong in this country when it comes to soccer (aka football). Millions of kids play soccer. It’s fun, there’s pretty much a position for any kid with athletic ability, it conditions your body like whoa, it’s fun, it’s cheap, and it’s easy to learn. So why doesn’t anyone like it? Why do people treat it like it’s an elite sport? In every other country in the world, kids are kicking garbage around barefoot. In America, you have to pay to play. And the best aren’t rising to the top.
The US men’s national team (USMNT) sucks. They missed qualifying for the World Cup because they are horrible. How can the most amazing country in the world assemble a team of such utter losers? It’s because the pay to play system basically ensures that only the richest kids in the US will be able to access the training camps that will eventually lead to the USMNT. We all know this – if you have a person who’s willing to spend money, you’ll keep taking it from them even if their kid sucks. And this is what’s happened to American soccer.
Surprisingly, even though the Women’s national team (USWNT) is also pay to play, it seems like the parents of female players aren’t so willing to throw money away on inflating the ego of their daughters. Instead, the USWNT is comprised of some of the best athletes the United States has to offer. But you wouldn’t know anything about them because they’re women. I seriously want to rage out when I can’t see a women’s game, but I can see the men’s team look worse than a bunch of six year olds on every channel.
The USWNT won the World Cup in 2015, marking their third world championship. Three stars on their uniforms. You know how many the USMNT has? ZERO! Not one. Remember the World Cup in 2014 when every hipster tool wore a US men’s jersey and jumped around screaming, “I believe that we can win!” while drinking IPAs in the trendiest bars even though they knew nothing about soccer? Funny thing was none of those dudes were around to watch the USWNT DOMINATE in 2015.
We have a lot of problems with soccer in this country. We should have a system that allows the best of the best to rise to the top, no matter what their parents’ salaries might be. Our focus should be placed on winners and not on the men’s team just because they’re men. We should all be amped for the beginning of the MLS season, because our best young athletes should be playing.
Hey, at least we can count on our Women’s team to actually make it and quite possibly win the Women’s World Cup in 2019.
PS – The World Cup starts in June in Russia. Good thing the US isn’t going. Who are you rooting for? Don’t be that guy and go to the bar in your USA jersey. If you need some help, buy a Ronaldo Portugal jersey. My boy is taking it all.