Why Do We Suck at Soccer?

Image courtesy of  Sam Wermut  on  Unsplash

Image courtesy of Sam Wermut on Unsplash

I love my country, but I can’t understand why we suck at soccer.

Arguably the biggest sporting event in the world, a tournament that captivates billions of people around the globe, wraps up this weekend when France tangles with Croatia in the World Cup Final.

It’s not embarrassing that the United States didn’t make it to the championship game. But isn’t it humiliating that our country didn’t even play well enough to get into the tournament in the first place?

I say this as someone who doesn’t particularly care about the game. I’m not a fan of soccer, but I am an American and therefore, by nature, a competitive s.o.b.

It’s bad enough that Croatia, a country of 4 million people, roughly equal to the metropolitan area of Detroit, has wildly succeeded. But there were 31 other countries that challenged this year for the Cup, including Iceland - and Iceland’s population is about that of Aurora, Colorado.

So Iceland, with a total of 300,000 people, managed to find 11 guys who could move a ball without using their hands. But here we are with 330 million people in the U.S. and we couldn’t cut it. We are one thousand times larger and they kicked our ass.

Our USA women are beasts - they’ve won the Women’s World Cup three times, including the last one in 2015. But the guys?

Their best finish ever was third place - and that was 88 years ago. What the hell?

I know the old excuses, things like Hey, it’s their national sport. Whatever. Kids have been playing soccer in the U.S. for a long time, and in the last 30 years the soccer fields have been packed beyond belief with American kids going at it. It ain’t new to our shores, folks. Even the term “soccer mom” has been around for generations.

Or, Hey, it’s a sport for rich kids in our country. Oh yeah? Well according to the latest census information, the US of A has about 11 million millionaires. In other words, we have 36 millionaires for every one person in Iceland. We have almost three times as many millionaires in our country as Croatia (in the World Cup Final, remember?) has people, period.

And what makes you think you need to be rich to kick the ball? Equipment for youth football and baseball can be pretty expensive, and with youth hockey it’s downright ridiculous; parents report paying thousands for gear. With soccer you need a ball and maybe a couple of shin guards.

Image courtesy of  Ben Hershey  on  Unsplash

Image courtesy of Ben Hershey on Unsplash

Then there’s the best excuse of all: We love our football in America.

Yeah, we do. But do you know how many kids in this country play football? 3.2 million.

Know how many play soccer? 3.1 million.

I must, respectfully, reject all your excuses. We’ve played it long enough and we’ve got gobs of people toiling away at it. Why do we still suck at soccer?

You can tell me it’s not exciting, that we hate nil-nil games in this country, blah blah blah. The point is, we play the game, we’ve played it for a long time, and we’ve got staggering numbers. What do we have to do to find 11 guys who can match up against Panama, or Uruguay, or Switzerland? They all made it.

Japan got in, Saudi Arabia competed this year, and even Senegal made the cut. Don’t lie to me, you don’t even know where Senegal is.

Image courtesy of  Click and Boo  on  Unsplash

Image courtesy of Click and Boo on Unsplash

I don’t necessarily lie awake at night and think of my favorite thrilling soccer matches, but I do wonder why our country sucks so bad at the game.

We’re sharing the hosting duties for World Cup 2026 with Canada and Mexico, so that gives us 8 years to get our shit together.

Kids who today are 11 or 12 years old better be dribbling their asses off through those orange cones because our country needs them in ’26. We need them bad. It’s time to stop sucking at soccer.

PS: Go Croatia!