Being a soccer fan in the United States automatically comes with a heaping dose of criticism. Not only does the rest of the sporting world scrutinize the U.S. bandwagon for adopting “their” sport, “Americanizing,” and spoiling it. But our neighbors are just as quick to berate the game, quickly dismissing soccer as an over complicated, boring sport, played by sissies before even understanding rules or reason. In all, defending your love for soccer can be truly tasking.
“No, Steve making the goals larger wouldn’t make the game more exciting… Yes, I understand the score would be higher, there’s a lot more to it than just a score… Yes the point is to have more goals than the other team… Having scoring goals be more difficult is half the fun…You can’t just change the rules cause you think it would be better... Of course I want my team to have more points, Steve I think you’re missing the point…”
The thing is, as with everything, there will always be naysayers ready to rain on the parade. Luckily a couple showers have never stopped soccer supporters before. Whether people like it or not, no amount push back will be able to stop the momentum that soccer has gained in the United States. Now more than ever, there is no better time to be a soccer supporter in the U.S.
"But the U.S. has never even won a World Cup."
Um, excuse me what? Hell yeah we have! Our U.S. Women's National Team has won three, and continues to dominate as the most successful women's soccer team of all time. Don't think women's sports matter? Tell that to the 22.8 million people who watched as U.S. completely trounced Japan in the FIFA Women's World Cup Final, the most viewed televised soccer event in the nations history (played by men or women).
"Okay, but the men's team is losing."
Losing compared to what? Because compared to decades past, we've been winning a whole mess more than we normally do. We got put into the "Group of Death" for the first round of the World Cup and came out of it! No one expected that. This past spring we even won friendlies against the reigning World Cup Champs Germany and 3rd place Netherlands on their home soil. It is insane when looking at the U.S.'s performance in the past.
But yes, it's true the men's team has lost some crucial matches as of late. Over the summer the USMNT was knocked out of the Gold Cup in a heartbreaking loss to Jamaica, and just last week were crushed 4-1 in a friendly against Brazil. Some have pointed fingers at coaching staff. Others have been talking about the over extroversion of players, bouncing between their regular home teams schedule and tournaments resulting in injury and disappointing performance. Still others have been discussing the lack of youth training infrastructure to develop quality American players.
Wait. What's this? People are talking about soccer! In America? The fact that any of these discussions are taking place at all should be proof enough that soccer is finally making a permanent place for itself in U.S. sports. You don't talk about, and certainly don't have opinions on things you don't have vested interest in. We may be losing, but we've always been losing. The difference now is that people actually care that we are, and that is half the battle towards fixing things, which means we will only continue to improve.
"Soccer is not an American sport, this bandwagon will never last."
Soccer is as American as pizza... and all the other countless things we have adopted over the centuries. We didn't invent the sport, and never claimed we did but that doesn't make our support thereof any less true. So maybe we're a little late to the party that 3 billion other people in 200 different countries were already a part of. Who cares? We are here now and gaining steam by the day. Soccer has the fastest growing fan base of any sport in the U.S. Call it a bandwagon if you must, but I'd suggest jumping on.