The US men’s national soccer team had a solid run in the World Cup the past few weeks and would see its chances at gold come to a close when it fell 3-1 to the Netherlands in the round of 16.
This run of success that the team experienced kind of summed up the bigger picture of American men’s soccer in my eyes. It’s so close, but still, so far.
The women’s national teams over the past three decades have been hugely successful and many of the players have become household names. Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Abby Wambach. Women like these have been some of the most recognizable names in US sports.
The men’s side, however, has never really gotten over the hump. Sure, it has had some good years, including this one, but for some reason the team just has never made the leap.
This year’s World Cup excited US fans as much as I have maybe ever seen. Admittedly, I am not a huge international soccer follower. I watched the box scores and read the AP articles, but that was about it. I hate to say it, but a lot of it was because I sensed that the team would be eliminated sooner rather than later.
It was great to see so many fans engaged and when the US beat Iran, it began to feel like maybe this squad had a chance to make a memorable run. The team has only reached the quarterfinals once, the final eight. It seemed like maybe a similar result was possible.
Not this time, though.
This run and the overall experience encapsulated where the US men stand in this country. The interest is there when the stakes are high, we are hoping to see them take that next step into the world’s elite, but they miss by just a smidge. It feels like one big run could catapult men’s soccer into the national spotlight, this year felt like we were on the brink of it. Unfortunately, it just did not work out.
Winning is what it is going to take. Until the team makes a big run, one in which it is an actual threat of winning the whole thing, it is going to remain a secondary sport in this country which is a shame to see. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and you see how avid many countries are.
I was in Spain on a high school trip during the 2010 World Cup. I spent a week in Madrid, and I’m telling you, it was electric throughout the city. I’ve been in Boston for the Red Sox playoffs, I have been to Foxboro for the Pats, the TD Garden for the Bruins. None of those touched the energy of Spain during the World Cup. That was a nationwide event and not a single bar did not have it on the TV with screaming fans, not one street corner did not have people partying, celebrating.
To expect that for the US in our lifetime may be a bit much. Those countries train their kids from the time they can walk and devote countless assets toward the success. Sure, we offer soccer to kids at the youth level, but it is just different, it is far more intense.
To one day see soccer catch on in the US is a dream of mine. Again, it’s not because I am a massive soccer fan. I just had the opportunity to see a major soccer country like Spain in the middle of the sport’s biggest event and how it operated. Did I also mention Spain won it that year? Unbelievable.
We’ll see what happens in the next four year until the next one. The US will be one of three countries hosting it, so maybe that will catch the eyes of those at home. I would love to see another major sporting event give us something to celebrate here.
I have to give a shout out to the Cranston West boys basketball team, which hosted a media day this past Sunday.
The team was in full uniform, getting its pictures taken. It invited the media to attend to interview coaches and players as the season approaches. I took the time to head down there to throw together a preview.
When talking to new coach James Sweeney, he was saying that an emphasis of his this season will be exposure … helping as many people see his team and enjoy the show. The team was also in the process of shooting a promotional video for the upcoming season to hype its fans.
I wish that more teams did things like this. As a media member, it makes life much easier and my goal is always to see as many teams as possible each season. To have more teams have media days, utilize social media, hype up the community, it really is a great thing, especially for my own selfish reasons as a media person.
With winter sports kicking off in the next two weeks, I encourage all of our teams to follow suit. Even if it is as simple as running a social media page, it is a great help to get the world out see information be spread. Not just to us here at Beacon Communications, but all the local media in the state of Rhode Island. Hats off to the Falcons for giving us all a hand.
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