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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

The Inside Story

Author: David Lindholm Assistant Sports Editor

I keep having this nightmare: it's the World Cup, in Korea and Japan, and the United State shocks Portugal in their opening match. Then they proceed to take out South Korea and then draw with Poland to go through to the second round. Then they pull off upsets all the way to the final, where they meet one of the world powers. The U.S. dominates from the beginning, plays with desire and grit and wins 2-1.

Now why, as an ardent supporter of the National Team, would this be a nightmare for me? Because, simply put, the United States does not deserve the World Cup.

On the surface, the dream of watching the Nats play the best soccer they ever have and out-work everybody to take the Championship seems great. I'm haunted though by the image of the reaction of the nation. There would be little shouting in the streets; pockets of people across the country would celebrate but there would be no national pride, no sense of accomplishment that envelops the populous. The vast majority of our 285 million residents would be almost indifferent to the achievement.

So it seems like a selfish dream that the U.S. would win the Cup. In a tournament that involves so many nations with such rich soccer history, the United States is a newcomer, a decent squad with (lets face it) very little fan base. In fact, only seven teams (Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Uruguay, England and France) have ever won the Cup.

My criteria for determining a "deserving" team is based mainly on fan base — passion. Since many of the most dominant teams have won, I look at how the country would react to a win. Joe-Max Moore's penalty and the United States' resulting win against Jamaica was an amazing moment, but the game was not even televised, while other networks ran their coverage of American football.

Think of how many people were watching, and caring about the Uruguay v. Australia second leg or the Iran v. Ireland second leg. How about the national pride when England clinched their berth on Beckham's free kick in stoppage time to draw with Greece? The U.S. had a similar moment this year, and it was all but ignored. We cannot match the thrill and passion found in the rest of the world.

This is not to say that I don't love the National Team (I do), but I do not think it is our time yet. I also highly doubt that I'll have to worry about the U.S.A. winning it all. But 50 years down the road, the MLS will be on par with European leagues, the Nats will have been to the final and lost and soccer will be, by far, the Number One sport in the country. That's when we will win the World Cup. By then I'll be celebrating with my grandkids. And then will I be able to take full pleasure in our accomplishment.



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