While the obvious statement to couple with the title would simply be for the USMNT to bring home the World Cup, any viewer of the USMNT for the last 100 years will be aware that this is more of a dream than an actual possibility. These scenarios are what could cause the best possible outcome for the future of soccer in America and for the future of everything associated with the USMNT. Considering the typical thought process spouted by most international football followers, the best outcomes might not be what you were expecting.
The first outcome that would benefit the USMNT the most but might hurt soccer growth a small bit would be getting knocked out in the group stage quickly and quietly. The reason it would slightly hurt soccer growth is because that ESPN will still be advertising World Cup coverage every 15 seconds despite the USMNT not being present anymore. While we hope some would-be fans or new fans will stay tuned in for the rest of the tournament and might get intrigued by the amazing talent on display, it certainly will be easier to win those fans over if they have their own national team still in the tournament.
The reason it will help the USMNT in the long run is that it will bring about a top-to-bottom rethink for the USMNT. Players that had started to believe that a (very lucrative) career in the MLS would allow them to be just as prepared for a major tournament might, instead, actually realize that time in Europe’s elite leagues are the experiences that will truly take them to the next level. Getting knocked out of the World Cup early would result in every standard involved with the squad being raised, hopefully increasing player talent and increasing the level of play that players believe will be required to make their national team. It will hurt in the moment, but 2018 and beyond would benefit.
The outcome that everyone should be hoping for is for the USMNT to either get knocked out in admirable fashion against impressive opposition at the quarter-final stage or to make it all the way to the semi-final. Once again, the 24/7 coverage that ESPN will be slinging at everyone means that success from our national team will translate to a larger fan-base and a continued increase in growth…but only if we can achieve some success. While a difficult group might allow the team the ability to have a decent excuse for being knocked out early, the USMNT will never enter into legitimate discussions with the world’s elite if they can not achieve improvement at the biggest tournament in the world.
Sure, “I believe that we will win,” but the past few months definitely have me considering the above situations over watching Dempsey and Howard dancing around with the Cup. While we have already covered the World Cup a bit, there is also the future of professional and non-professional soccer in America that is going to be affected as well. What type of tune will Klinsmann and co. be saying once we enter July? Will we get a decent clip of Donovan saying “I told you so?” or “Well, I guess they knew what they were doing.”…?