In a little less than a month, we will be approaching the two-year anniversary of the U.S. men’s national team’s crushing 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago. The loss prevented America from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and was viewed by many as U.S. soccer’s lowest point in its over-100-year existence.
Beyond the immediate World Cup qualifying implications, the Trinidad result reaffirmed many doubts that soccer would never make it in the U.S. and that we would never be good enough at it. Many American sports fans dislike this beautiful game and our nation’s place in it. They dismiss the game for being too low-scoring, for players flopping too much and for our country being far from the best at it.
Many of these assumptions about soccer are uncalled for. Soccer is actually a very exciting game filled with genuine emotion. The passion displayed by both fans and players of the sport is what truly sets it apart. Go to a Mexican national team match at the Rose Bowl and I guarantee you will be impressed at how intense of a sporting experience it is. Or even travel a short distance from campus to a Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) home game and the electric atmosphere will captivate you.
Although the notion of the game being low-scoring has some merit, there are plenty of high-scoring, exciting matches and teams to go around. LAFC has scored 78 goals in the 31 matches they have played so far this season. Saturday morning, Manchester City scored eight goals in a single English Premier League match.
Another beautiful thing about soccer is that there really is no off-season. The world’s most popular leagues in Europe run from August all the way through May. As soon as those conclude, international tournaments kick off in June and July. Major League Soccer, America’s primary league, plays from March through November. If you are an American soccer fan, you have games to watch year round. There is no waiting for months on end for your favorite sport to return to action.
Despite what most of our country and the world may lead you to believe, Americans are actually very good at soccer. This past summer, the U.S. women’s national team famously won its fourth World Cup title. En route to the trophy, they went undefeated in the game’s most competitive tournament as practically the entire country threw their support behind the team. No one else in the world can claim four World Cups, making our women the most successful in the world.
Despite the dominance of American women, many try to detract from the American women’s standing in the sport by pointing to our men’s team. From the way most people talk about the men’s team, you would think they are one of the worst in the game. In reality, the U.S. men’s national team is currently ranked 21st in the world by FIFA. This is out of a possible 210 teams. So, out of all the 200-plus countries that have national teams, the United States of America ranks in the top 10% of them. In the grand scheme of things, Americans are very good at soccer.
I am aware the game has a long way to go before we hit the same heights as the European and South American juggernauts of soccer; but there is no denying the game in our country and our skill in it has made major strides over the past couple of decades.
This is the opinion of Nick Rossi, a junior AIMS major from Orange, CA. Tweet comments to @LALoyolan or email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.