Football, or soccer as it’s known here in the US. A global phenomenon, yet having to compete with American football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey and the like in this country. So much so that uttering the word ‘football’ is more likely to bring images of padded up hulking men clashing into each other instead of players with normal physiques controlling a ball with their feet. Given its low popularity compared to the rest of the world, soccer unsurprisingly is something the US isn’t great at. That is, if you consider the men, also known as the US Men’s National Team (USMNT). When considering the other sex, the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) are head and shoulders above their competitors, and in fact, world champions. I am not here to discuss why this disparity exists, instead, I’ll talk about the current state of soccer in the US.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup recently concluded its 8th edition in France. 24 teams competed, initially in a round robin stage of 6 groups of 4, followed by knockouts from 16 teams down to 1 champion. The USWNT began their campaign with a thumping (this adjective is an understatement) 13-0 win over Thailand, before victories over Chile and Sweden saw them top their group. They then went on to beat European powerhouses one after the other – Spain, hosts France, England, and finally Netherlands in the final, to win a record 4th title and successfully defend their crown from 2015. Overall, the USWNT scored 26 goals and conceded only 3 in 7 games – truly deserving of world champions. They now sit on top of the world rankings, followed by Germany in a distant 2nd spot. Clearly, US women’s soccer is in good hands.
The same cannot exactly be said for the men. They failed to qualify for the FIFA men’s world cup held last summer in Russia. Going into the final round of qualifying matches, the USMNT only needed a draw against Trinidad and Tobago (who failed to qualify themselves), but they lost 2-1. This was the first time the USMNT had failed to qualify for a world cup since 1986! Needless to say, this was a disaster of sorts. However, the USMNT has bounced back since then and reached the final of the Gold cup – a tournament for the CONCACAF soccer region comprising North and Central American nations – which they lost narrowly to Mexico by a single goal. With young talent rising in the ranks, and the likes of Christian Pulisic being bought to play for European powerhouse Chelsea football club, the future looks bright for the USMNT as well.
This bodes well for the US as it will be co-hosting the 23rd edition of the FIFA men’s world cup with Canada and Mexico in 2026. This will be the 2nd time that the US will host the world cup – the first being in 1994 when soccer was even more of an unknown entity in the country. The 2026 world cup will be the biggest yet with 48 teams taking part. The RoseBowl in Pasadena has been chosen as one of the venues – it previously hosted the final in 1994. Here’s looking forward to exciting times for US soccer.
Published on July 10th, 2019
Last updated on July 10th, 2019