A Qualified Defense of U.S. Soccer

Bethany Dempsey, Clint Dempsey's wife (SI YouTube)
June 17, 2014

Look, I get it. I understand why there's so much resistance to soccer amongst my fellow travelers on the right. It's low scoring. There's flopping. So much flopping. Not to mention whining. The announcers do that annoying thing where they're all, "Italy were the better team yesterday" instead of "Italy was the better team yesterday." Good lord do I hate that. And the scolds, mein gott the soccer scolds, the people who insist you don't like the sport because you're uncultured, the douchemonger with the scarf and the nerd glasses who wants to lecture you about pitch conditions and such.

Again, I get it. I understand your hesitance. I have an unholy inclination to enjoy the sport because I lived in England during my formative years; it's my cross to bear, and I won't try to convert you. But allow me to offer one qualified defense of United States soccer (as opposed to "soccer," generally speaking). And that defense is this: It's an opportunity for America to prove that we're great even at things we actively disdain.

I mean, imagine living in Ghana. Literally the only thing you have to be proud of in your dreadful, giraffe-free nation is the fact that your ragtag band of brothers has managed to lay low the Great Satan in the World Cup two outings running. You love soccer so much that the government was literally rationing electricity to ensure that you had enough power to watch the game. You'll have been looking forward to this day for months, if not years.

And America ruined your shit yesterday.

This is what it means to be a global superpower, the hegemon of hegemons, the big bad bully on the block. We don't even care about soccer and we still manage to field a decent team. We've appeared in the World Cup 10 times; only 12 nations have appeared more frequently than us. We haven't missed a World Cup since 1990; only a handful of squads can say the same.

Now, granted, we haven't excelled at the World Cup. We are, frankly, not that good. I mean, we're good, relative to how good we deserve to be. But we're not that good. I have a dream, though, brothers and sisters. Oh, lawd, do I have a dream! I dream of greater things! I dream of a day in which the United States wins the World Cup—not because of my deep abiding love of the "beautiful game."* Not even because of national pride, not really.

No, I dream of a day in which the United States wins the World Cup because I savor the thought of how immensely butthurt the rest of the world will be. Oh, the whining will be glorious! The stamping feet and the sad faces. I dream of a day in which we can crush the hopes of every nation as we crushed the hopes of Ghana, a day in which the world mourns. "We had this one thing!" they will wail, beating their chests, rending their garments. "And they took it away from us!"

And the best part? The absolute best?

Americans, by and large, still won't give a single shit about soccer.

Which will just drive the rest of the world even crazier.

*Another thing to hate about soccer: people who unironically call it "The Beautiful Game." God you sound like a horrible wretch when you say that. And you don't even realize it.