The 2010 World Cup is now in the books for the United States. What will the history books write about it? Disallowed goals? The England Equalizer? Winning the group? The performance of Landon Donovan on the world stage? I think the legacy of this World Cup will be the emergence of “soccer” as a major sport in the United States. That’s right I think the game has finally turned the corner and will move into the top three here in America. I could not believe the people that were interested here in the States during the World Cup. Old, young, middle aged people were tuning in like never before to take in the international spectacle that is the World Cup. Offices would change the channel from CNN to ESPN to take in the games. Here in the middle of the day US televisions were tuned in at the highest rate ever to the beautiful game, numbers never seen before.
What next now for the game here in the US? Well a push for the World Cup in 2018 or 2022 is the logical progression. World Cup 94 remains the best attended and run World Cup in history and the next one here in the US will be bigger and better. But will FIFA bite? Will the remorse of horrible referees disallowing legitimate goals help our chances? Of course not, but money talks for FIFA and if we can get them to make an objective decision based on revenue and profits than we should be leading the pack for hosting the biggest sporting event in the world.
Even more important than hosting the tournament in the future is the growth of the domestic league: Major League Soccer. With an ESPN contract and steady expansion into solid soccer markets it continues to grow responsibly. Reportedly attendance has been up over 15% since the World Cup. The standard of play is considered at the Coca Cola Championship level which I think is great, and should put it in the top 15 leagues in the world. With the Youth Soccer boom showing no signs of slowing down you can’t help but consider soccer to be on the verge of a boom here in the US. Long may it continue.
Another thing I would like to talk about is how much the national team has progressed. No one can say we had the most talented bunch at this World Cup but I will go out on a limb and say we were one of the 16 best teams at the tournament. If we could just finish we would probably still be playing. The amount of chances we wasted bordered on criminal and you had to feel for Landon Donovan seeing all of his great service being wasted. The main culprit was Jozy Altidore, but that being said I do not want to batter the lad too much. He did a lot of things well at the tournament, first and foremost relying on his strength and size to become a real handful for most defenders. Add his pace and we could see the development of a new type of target man in the game whou could revolutionize the 4-5-1. Crucial this young player makes the right move before next season and gets into an English team with a coach who can mentor and develop him. I vote for Tony Pulis’ Stoke City. A guy can only hope!