Groundhog’s Day in June

The World Cup is still going on and after the finish of today’s games we’ll be heading into the round of 16. From Saturday on out we’ll be seeing single elimination games (that means no more draws) that promise to be even more exciting and emotional, at least from the world’s perspective. Unfortunately for the United States, we’ll be welcoming home our players as this fiesta begins.

After last Saturday’s unbelievable tie against Italy, the U.S. still had classifying for the bracket in their sites. First and foremost, they had to win against Ghana. From there, it was up to Italy to dismiss Czech Republic. I could almost taste the impending victory. After the way the U.S. played against Italy when they were down 10 players to 9 for almost the entire second half, it looked like Ghana would be an easy match. So I of course made sure to set my alarm early yesterday in order to watch the United States in their do-or-die match against Ghana. Things looked good as Italy took an early lead over Czech Republic. But like I said, the U.S. had to win no matter what. Instead of witnessing a victory and the advancement into the next round, I witnessed a match in which the United States didn’t do and only died. Final score: Ghana 2, U.S. 1.

After last World Cup’s quarterfinal finish it seemed the like U.S. would be able to ride high into this World Cup. And, in fact, they entered ranked 5th in the world by FIFA only to placed in the arguably the toughest group of the cup and consequently leave without a win. Even worse is what this means for the future of soccer in the United States for at least the next four years.

I know the Frappe has already made several comments about the state of soccer in the U.S. and how it will never progress to the level of any of our other major sports no matter how much our youth might be playing this sport. I am mostly in agreement with such statements. However, I do feel that if the U.S. team can ever finish in at least the semifinals of a World Cup we might begin to see a serious change in our attitudes toward such a game. But when the U.S. soccer team can only manage to score one goal in 270+ minutes of World Cup play (the other goal which came against Italy came off an Italian’s foot), then we will continue to see soccer pushed to the back of everyone’s mind.

Thus, the U.S. team’s inability to classify is similar to when the Punxsatawney groundhog sees his shadow—it means winter will be extended for six more weeks. In this case, soccer is going to face four more years of unpopularity and mockery in the United States. It’s just a fact. Until the U.S. can put together a legitimate contender, no one will even know what the letters MLS stands for. Sorry soccer fanatics; maybe next time.

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