Russia 2018 To Be An Afterthought For Americans
Several years ago, when I worked as a sportswriter at a daily newspaper, a guy came into our office trying to sell us on covering soccer.
As we rolled our eyes, his parting words were this: “if soccer is not the biggest sport in America in two years, I’ll cut off my right arm.”
After two years, we started calling him “Lefty.”
In the time since, little has changed.
And with the USA failing to qualify for the World Cup 2018, this will be a huge blow to soccer in America. With, to put it in American terms, “no dog in the fight,” Americans are not going to tune into the World Cup in Russia.
They are not going to pay attention to it, care what happens and certainly not go to sports bars to watch games. They won’t wear USA shirts, say “U-S-A, U-S-A” with pride or even know it’s happening, which, by the way, is June 14-July 15.
The final nail in the coffin for the USA to qualify for the World Cup was a 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago – yes, Trinidad & Tobago – but not that many American sports fans noticed, of course.
They were too busy paying attention to the MLB Playoffs, the NFL and college football.
“We failed,” USA Coach Bruce Areans said. It’s hard to argue with him but soccer also failed in the USA.
There was a brief time when Americans actually paid attention to soccer. They turned out for huge game-watching parties on big screens set up in public areas. People planned for it as they do for major events. It was a happening.
That was during the last World Cup when a bit of national pride and something different to cheer for took control of the nation’s sports fans. For two weeks, anyway.
Now, the only way Americans will notice that the World Cup is taking place is when they go to a bar and see a group of transplants from other countries cheering on a sport on a distant TV in the corner of the place.
Otherwise, soccer must wait another four years to be relevant again in the USA. And then, for only a couple of weeks.