Will the USA ever win soccer’s coveted World Cup? Opinions are mixed, with one group of experts saying it will never happen, and another group of experts saying it’s all but inevitable. One thing is clear, though: We won’t be winning it this year, due to the fact that we’re not competing – a disgraceful and embarrassing situation that bears another Inquisitr article. But putting aside the 2018 embarrassment, will the Americans ever field a good enough team to take home the coveted trophy? It depends on whom you ask.
What Works Against Us
The sports career of the average American athlete who eventually makes the pros in any sport generally goes like this: If and when the athlete starts showing promise on the field at the high school level, he or she will be courted by college scouts and eventually offered a college scholarship. If he does well at college, he’ll be offered a pro contract.
Not so for European (and African and South American) kids. European soccer clubs are essentially “talent factories,” as USA Today describes them, hustling children into so-called “academies” where they essentially live and breathe soccer. It’s not uncommon for kids as young as 16 or 17 to be given professional contracts, competing at the developmental level with and against men in their early 20s.
How can homegrown American players expect to compete against nations who raise up their soccer stars like that? We probably can’t, according to USA Today writer Steven Ruiz, who called the American system “woefully inefficient” by comparison.
What Works For Us
What we lack at the developmental level we more than make up for at the professional level, say CNN writers Henry Young and Kate Riley. A decade ago, Major League Soccer (MLS) was an afterthought in American sports, with even the best players having to work night jobs to earn a living. Now, stadiums are selling out, players are making good money, and a career in professional soccer can be appealing for an American kid who shows promise at soccer. That puts an incentive on young athletes to consider soccer, says former England star Frank Lampard.
“Maybe five, 10 years ago, [a career in MLS] wasn’t on the radar, but it is now.”
Former Brazilian star Kaká – who spent some time with MLS’ Orlando City Soccer Club at the tail end of his career – agrees.
“The most important thing is that the youth players — American players — can grow and be the base of soccer in America.”
Meanwhile, the European model of shuffling promising kids into developmental leagues is making inroads into the U.S., according to a 2016 USA Today report. Already Spain’s FC Barcelona and England’s Arsenal FC have announced plans to open youth developmental leagues in the U.S., and other European teams can’t be far behind.
So with a thriving professional league and a view towards imitating the European model, does that mean that the USA will soon make a legitimate run at the World Cup? We won’t know until 2022, but the odds are better for 2022 than they are for 2018 – mainly because the odds of us winning in 2018 are zero on account of the fact that we’re not playing.