Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Will the US Men's National Team Ever Become World Cup Champions?

John Marine | 3/16/2011 04:19:00 AM | | |
The beautiful game's grandest prize is the World Cup trophy. The men's US National Soccer team has NEVER become World Cup Champions since competing in the very first World Cup in 1930 in Uruguay. Winning the World Cup is as serious a deal as winning gold medals in the Olympics. The football most people associate with the United States is gridiron football. Because of this, there are many who think that the United States just doesn't have enough talent to actually take on the world's finest football clubs and nations. The next men's World Cup will be in Brazil in 2014. Will the USA be champions in 2014 or even finish strong enough (granted they qualify for this year's tournament)? Could they finally scale the top of the World Cup mountain in the 2018 World Cup in Russia or the 2022 World Cup in Qatar? This blog post is sort of a commentary piece asking if the United States of America will ever become World Cup champions.

PLEASE NOTE: I am not any professional on football/soccer. So do not expect any seriously engaging commentary.

(sources: Wikipedia,

--- The United States in the World Cup ---
U.S. Men's National Soccer Team
^ from:, by way of - The US Men's National Soccer Team... good enough to compete, but great enough to be World Cup champions?

In the very first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, the United States placed their highest in World Cup history by placing 3rd. According to what I read from the US National Team's website, they basically won Third Place in the 1930 World Cup by forfeit (the Yugoslavians didn't want to play in the Third Place game). Argentina beat the USA in the Semi-Finals of the 1930 World Cup in a 6-1 thrashing of the US. The Third Place game wasn't really official until 1938.

They played in the 1934 World Cup in Italy, but placed 16th. The US withdrew in the 1938 World Cup in France. The US didn't qualify in any World Cup until 1950. With the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, they were knocked out in the Group Stage, finishing 10th. The team has NEVER qualified again after 1950 for the World Cup until 1990. Since the World Cup in Italy in 1990, the US National Team has qualified for every World Cup tournament even including the most recent tournament in South Africa. The United States even hosted the World Cup in 1994 (the US finished 14th in the 1994 World Cup, losing in the Round of 16). Between the 1990 World Cup and the 2010 World Cup, the worst they've finished was 32 in the 1998 World Cup in France, and the best they've finished in this stretch was 8th in the 2002 World Cup in Japan and the Korea Republic. And from the most recent World Cup, the US National Team lost to Ghana for the second successive World Cup.

Still, only the 1930 US Men's National Team has progressed further than any other US National Team in their entire history in the World Cup. The second best they've finished was 8th in the Japan-Korea World Cup.

--- World Cup Obstacles for the US National Team ---
There are two arguments as to why a number of people don't think the US can ever become World Cup champions- the fact that we're better in (another kind of football) than what the rest of the world calls football, and the fact that there isn't as much interest. I'll try to attack these points as best as I can. Remember- I am no expert on this sport!

The "Other Football" Argument.

Here in Texas, there is a common thing people say as to why Texas teams aren't successful in some other sports- we're a football (as in gridiron football) state, so we're not expected to be much a threat in any other sport. I greatly detest this viciously. Yeah. We may be better in football than in almost any other sport, but didn't the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs win NBA championships in their time? Didn't the Houston Dynamo win the MLS cup? Didn't the LaBonte family win championships in NASCAR? Didn't the Astros and Rangers both play in separate World Series games?

Guess where this leads to. Right- just because we're better in one sport doesn't mean we are unable to hold our own in any other sport. I get a quite a bit offended in thinking that the United States can't compete in world football just because we're better known for our NCAA and NFL football. Even I was stunned last year when the United States upset top-ranked (and eventual World Cup 2010 champions) Spain in 2009. Just don't tell me that the United States has absolutely no chance. Or allow me to use a traditional sports cliché- on any given day. There are clubs and teams much better than the United States (by the way, have I ever said the USA National Team is the greatest football team in the world?), but we're far from being the absolute worst. The types of football being discussed are much different from one another.

The Interest Factor.

Part of the reason most people think we may never become World Cup champions is simply because there just isn't as much interest in the United States to generate quality talent. Only way around it is if future footballers start playing overseas. Certain colleges here in the United States have some good NCAA Soccer programs. Such schools include St. John's (of Jamaica, New York), Saint Louis, and Indiana among others. And if you're talking about Major League Soccer, then we certainly have our fair share of talent in the MLS. We didn't exactly (and I'm sugarcoating it) show our strength when we hosted Manchester United in the 2010 MLS All-Star Game here in Houston. We ended up losing 5-2 to what most Americans consider the New York Yankees of the English Premier League (in prestige and in dominance)- Manchester United.

Just because not a lot of people in the USA care about American football/soccer as the rest of the world doesn't mean the USA has no hope of winning a World Cup ever. If people in the US didn't care about world football, then we wouldn't care to play domestically or overseas for any number of football clubs or teams.

--- Do I Believe the US Will Ever Become World Cup Champions? ---
Yeah, why not? I am not saying this with any sort of serious convincing, though. Many people will probably joke about us losing to Ghana in two successive World Cup tournaments. Even at our worst, we can at least compete with the better teams in football. Remember one thing about sports- either team can win despite any matchup problems. It's all about who brings it more when it's game time. One team shows up while the other falls on their faces. Those moments can either be championship games or exhibitions. For example, I heard Manchester United once lost to Yokohama F Marinos of the J-League. The EPL is obviously much more powerful than the J-League.

The prospect of the United States winning the World Cup someday seems like a pipe dream for many people. There are any number of teams that can easily beat the US in any match, let alone for the World Cup. I honestly think the USA can potentially become World Cup champions in the future. The USA women's national team has done so in the Women's World Cup; I think the USA men may one day become champions themselves after many times qualifying for the World Cup tournament. Can the USA National Team play hard enough and execute better in becoming World Cup champions? That remains to be seen.

I am not saying the United States will win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but I think they are CAPABLE of winning the World Cup as long as they give it their best and really take the fight to the better teams and countries. Perhaps the US will win one of sports' grandest titles some day. To do that, though, they'll need to compete with and take down the world's finest teams to win themselves a World Cup. I'd be happy even if the United States play in the World Cup Final. Of course, you got to WIN the Finals. Otherwise, you just become an afterthought of the entire tournament. Maybe the whole team plays hard to secure a championship. Or maybe one player basically carries the US National Team to the highest reaches of the World Cup tournament. Either way, the United States has as realistic a chance of becoming World Cup champions as almost any other team that qualifies even for Group Play.

Will/Can the US National Team ever become World Cup champions? Can they actually rise to the top of the football world by winning the biggest single sports tournament that's as big as the Olympics? I actually believe and hope the United States can continually contend to perhaps change the perceptions of the rest of the world (as well as Americans themselves) that we can be a contender and actually contend. Many teams are just elite level. The USA is NOT an elite in football compared to countries like Brazil, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, England, and countries like that. We're not a doormat, however. I strongly support the United States in all sports including the World Cup and the Olympics. There are teams better than the USA in such sports, but I still stand behind my American teams in any international arena or sport.

That concludes my blog post on if the United States' Men's National Team can ever win the World Cup. As a bonus thanking you for reading this blog post, please check out this bonus topic I've provided. Just make sure you're reading the full blog post to see extra commentary from me. If you are not reading the full post, click on "Read More" to read the bonus section I've provided to this post!

--- Will/Could the United States the World Cup Again? (Bonus Topic!) ---
Part of the reason why FIFA chose the World Cup to be played in the United States was to draw more interest in world football. More people in the past remember the NASL as when the sport was last most relevant in the USA (especially when Pelé played). Not as many are into the MLS. I especially follow the MLS to follow my beloved Houston Dynamo. There are people who do follow MLS and love their MLS teams. I think we have a number of facilities that would greatly welcome World Cup matches.

One of the most beautiful soccer-specific stadiums in the United States is Red Bull Arena (where the New York Red Bulls of the MLS play). The stadium in Harrison, New Jersey, USA is beautiful. It seats about 25,000 people but is otherwise a beautiful place to see players take the pitch and play 90 minutes of the beautiful game. I wouldn't be sure, though, if a massive crowd would be able to fit in Red Bull Arena to see a World Cup match. The biggest venues will likely have to be at gridiron football stadiums.

If I had to decide on venues to host World Cup matches (or even the World Cup final itself), here are some venues in no specific order:
* Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, MA, USA)
* Cowboy Stadium (Arlington, TX, USA)
* FedEx Field (Landover, MD, USA)
* LP Field (Nashville, TN, USA)
* Reliant Stadium (Houston, TX, USA)
* University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, AZ, USA)
* Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego, CA, USA)
* Qwest Field (Seattle, WA, USA)
* Buckeye Stadium (Columbus, OH, USA)
* Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC, USA)
* Soldier Field (Chicago, IL, USA)
* Heinz Field (Pittsburgh, PA, USA)
* Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA, USA)
* Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati, OH, USA)
* Ford Field (Detroit, MI, USA)
* Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA, USA)
* New Meadowlands Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ, USA)

Some of the venues I mentioned have played host to 1994 World Cup matches. I certainly think we've come a long way in popularity of soccer/football now compared to in 1994. I think the USA hosting the World Cup would be great for us and even for our economy. Not to sound like a homer, but it would be wonderful if Reliant Stadium played host to the World Cup final. Reliant Stadium is a lovely place to me that seats a lot of people. It has played host to a number of sporting events including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Texas Bowl, NCAA basketball (including the 2011 Men's Final Four), supercross racing, monster truck racing, WrestleMania XXV, various soccer matches, many concerts, and more. Who's to say that this stadium can't contain and put on a World Cup final for the ages?

I think we can definitely host another World Cup as long as there is enough interest to make it happen. We have facilities big enough and perhaps loads of fans (American and international) who'll flock to stadiums to see World Cup matches take place. I, at least, think we can host another World Cup in the future. Perhaps if the US National Team can play and finish higher in future World Cups, the trade off may result in even more interest to return World Cup play to the United States.

To learn more about U.S. soccer, please visit U.S. Soccer's official website. It includes news and information on all of the U.S. National teams from boys and girls to men and women. Thank you for reading!

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