Again, last night’s show was as much a therapy session as it was a brainstorm on how to improve soccer in the US. But it absolutely wasn’t a hot take fest. There’s been enough of that over the last couple days.
Sunil Out. Arena Out. Institute pro/rel. Kill pay-to-play. Everybody’s got an idea, and while they’re all valid, I don’t think any of them are the one single thing that will make us suddenly win the World Cup.
We’re simply not a soccer nation, yet. Now, if you’re reading this or regularly watching our shows, that might be tough to believe. There’s enough soccer in the US now that it’s easy to live in our bubble and pretend. But here’s the easiest way to tell: think about SportsCenter after we failed to qualify (minus Taylor Twellman’s awesome rant). Think about your local newspaper the next morning, or your local TV newscast. Pretty much everywhere else in the world, a failure to qualify for the World Cup–especially in the fashion we did–would be the top story. Players wouldn’t be able to go out in public anytime soon (and, I think it’s fairly ridiculous to, say, walk up to Jozy Altidore and tell him to fuck off, but it’s a fact. People do that kind of thing).
Think about kids at your local school. How many of them woke up sad because the US missed out? How many of them even know it happened? But here in Chicago, I guarantee most of the kids know the Cubs advanced to the NLCS last night, and that came after a five-hour (nine inning–what in the fuck?) game that ended at midnight. But that baseball game was on TBS in HD, and we had to watch the US on a standard def, nine-frames-per second feed on a channel most people aren’t aware they even get.
See what I mean? To become a soccer power, you need to become a soccer nation. And while we’ve made some strides, we’re nowhere near there, yet.
So how do we get there? I don’t know. But here’s an idea that might help: US Soccer takes some of that huge rainy-day fund we’ve heard about, and builds soccer fields and futsal courts in US cities. Then, you take some more of that money, and market the hell out of Christian Pulisic. Make sure EVERYONE knows him, just like everyone knows Tom Brady or Steph Curry or LeBron James. This might get kids actually going out and playing soccer for fun, as a choice, outside of practice. Then we might finally have something.
Until then? Soccer might continue to grow, but we won’t be a soccer nation. And if we’re not a soccer nation, we’ll never compete to win the World Cup.
Huge thanks to former pro soccer player and current good all-around dude Bobby Warshaw for joining us last night, and to investigative reporter and over-30 men’s league forward Bryan Polcyn for jumping on as well.
And thanks to everyone for watching. We had 17,500 views the other night, and we’re about to hit 1,000 subscriptions. Not bad for a show that once had like five viewers. Don’t worry, though, we’ll never forget the people who found us first!