These past few weeks have revealed to the world that not only is the team a rising powerhouse, but the country itself is ready for that spotlight. America has gone from ignoring soccer to fully embracing it, from lack of passion to potential World Cup hosts, and from being doubted to being cheered by millions.
America, soccer has officially landed, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.
The USMNT showed the world that Americans can get passionate about soccer during the World Cup, and that we have a passion that can rival that of many other nations. I am not saying that America is the next Brazil, England, or Argentina in terms of passion, but I am saying that we showed the world that we do care.
We care about our team, we care about whether they win or lose, and we care about the outcome of the World Cup. We have demonstrated that Americans can inject the same kind of passion seen at NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL games into USMNT games, and we made it clear that we are hungry for more. We will keep following soccer, and we will be ready for more come next World Cup.
Keep in mind that I am not saying that the MLS is going to see a huge ratings boost overnight, but it will likely see some benefit from the increased interest Americans have for soccer; as will the broadcasts of the English Premier League, La Liga, and Liga MX here in the U.S.
Americans know there is more than just the World Cup; increased soccer coverage over the past few years by ESPN and Fox Sports proves it. America also knows that high-quality matches can be viewed stateside and many will likely be tuning in once the 2014 World Cup is a distant memory.
As we have done with the NHL, America will develop pockets of die-hard fans that will help perpetuate the popularity of the sport for years to come. Will soccer one day overtake the NFL? Unlikely, but it may one day reach the same level as hockey here.
Will the MLS be a powerhouse league like the EPL or La Liga? Again, unlikely at the moment, but it will develop an even larger, more passionate following than it enjoys now, especially as domestic talent improves.
This year, Jurgen Klinsmann showed everybody that America can produce talent, and not just in the form of Landon Donovan. Clint Dempsey fought through injury and played his heart out during his entire tenure in the tournament, and has clearly demonstrated why he was chosen as captain. Tim Howard has gone from being relatively anonymous in the world of mainstream American sports to a household name due to his impressive goaltending and the setting of a new record for the most saves during a single World Cup match.
Not only did our leaders shine, but so did the younger talent as well. Julian Green’s goal against Belgium made us excited for the future of the team, since he still has so much potential and so much time left to play and mature as a member of the USMNT.
It is safe to assume at this point that future World Cup teams will be of better and better quality as time goes on as long as the organization keeps developing young talent like Green, and surrounding them with leaders like Dempsey.
Even if Klinsmann isn’t the coach come next World Cup, it is still safe to assume that the team will continue to be in good hands after the example set this year. Our future looks bright, and this year has given us a history to be proud of.
I Still Believe.