Only One Thing Matters Now!

Gary Hopkins

Gary Hopkins

The only thing that matters in the next 8 months , is not who the new coach is , not necessarily who the next President is , but how the USA maintains the impetus , goodwill and momentum it has in securing the rights to host the 2026 World Cup: nothing is more important at this time to the future of the game in the USA and we must not let the crushing loss in Trinidad to get in the way.

I was in Trinidad 28 years ago when Paul Caliguiri’s volley sent a bunch of College and Semi Pro kids to the Italia ’90 World Cup. There were about 50 USA fans there that day. Frankly, you could not compare the fight and mental strength of that team with what we all witnessed Tuesday night, Sadly it was a devastatingly poor and depressing display: with the impact on USA’ s soccer reputation, crushing.

In the USA the knives are out , the critics circling, and the US Soccer Team and Program under vitriolic scrutiny. Of course Bruce had to go , no manager withstands such a loss (he had the dignity to do it quickly and with frank honesty. He knows he failed, he knows his players let him down on the night) As for Sunil , he should suffer neither the praise for South Africa and Brazil , nor the full responsibility for our failure on Russia. Players win and lose games and should have beat a Trinidad 2nd Team.

The fact is the USA is not a particularly talented team and hasn’t been for a decade. It would take a brave man to say any team in that period was better than the 1994 or 2002 Teams. Qualifying out of the Hex has always been an easy formality and in fairness they have traditionally battled hard and punched above their weight in the Group stage, until the real pressure of the last 16 devours them. This time it came early!

us-soccer-trinidadBlame who you want , but I don’t remember Pulisic waiting around to be discovered , bemoaning poor coaching or complaining about not making a travel team. The best make it happen themselves , or die trying. The one’s that win you World Cups certainly do.

I still believe the future is bright , but big changes are needed. We have some great talent on playing fields and streets throughout the country. We have some of our brightest prospects playing all over Europe. We have a vibrant MLS and an increasingly impressive slate of 2nd Division teams. We have a soccer infrastructure in place that should allow us to have a brutally tough self examination period but come out the better for it. We all want the same thing: the USA to develop 16 super talented mentally tough soccer players that can help us win a World Cup. Frankly, I don’t care if that happens under the tutelage of FC Dallas , NYCFC, FC Shalke or Borussia Dortmund nor do the fans and neither should USA Soccer. (One things seems clear handing out 4m participation medals isn’t working ) A returning World Cup in 26 will go a long way to focusing on this.

Equally, lets make sure we appreciate how far soccer in the US has come in the past 30 years , lick our wounds and use it to “kick on” to the next level from a base infinitely stronger than we were in 1990 and let’s make sure the soccer voting world hears this.
Today , only securing the ’26 World Cup matters.

Team USA’s Most Successful Olympics Since LA

Source: Stat

As the Rio Olympics drew to a close on Sunday evening, Team USA stood top of the medal table by a long distance. They won 121 medals in total, their most successful haul since the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. That year, the Soviet Union, East Germany and Cuba boycotted the event, more than likely contributing to U.S. success. The 1904 Games in St. Louis were the most successful games in U.S. Olympic history with American athletes bagging 231 medals.

This chart shows the number of medals won by the U.S. at the Summer Olympics since 1972.

Infographic: Team USA's Most Successful Olympics Since LA  | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

Viva Mexico ! (Trump Take Note)

Gary Hopkins

Gary Hopkins

Source: Soccer-Biz-USA

Let me first state I am a USA fan. It matters when they lose and I have followed them through 7 World Cups. My wife and kids are also USA fans, Men’s and Women’s of course.

Equally though, I am a soccer fan and want to see the sport grow in the USA. For that to happen we have to applaud, recognize and support the Mexican team and their incredible fans.

Mexico USA Fans

Mexico is without doubt the USA’s biggest rival, both on and off the field. In fairness, they gave us a good spanking last year (despite the 3-2 score line) and if we don’t improve we may have to get used to it.

There could be a new Sheriff in the region and, my friends, it is not the USA.

So why Viva Mexico?

Because like a constant thorn in the side, losing to Mexico is instantly painful and until reversed, continually festering. It’s the one game you just have to win and as such the better Mexico becomes the less complacent the US can be.

I have to admit though that I love watching Mexico play, and admire their passion, their commitment and their skill.

Their fans also always amaze me. Sure, you might get some beer tossed your way but they bleed the green, live every kick, and every sense of their cultural identity is wrapped up in the team wearing the jersey. You get a true sense the players know they are playing for their country and their fans. It shows in every extra run, every last minute tackle and of course every last minute winner.

I am not saying the USA team do not individually feel the same and that Red White and Blue does not run through their veins, I am sure it does. So we were either technically not good enough or had a “bad day at the office”. I’m no coach so I will leave it the “experts” to dissect and in reality we have had Mexico’s number for the past few years.

Unfortunately, the US team did not perform anywhere nearly as well as their fans.

Sure, in an incredible crowd of 93,000 it was still probably 70% Mexican but the packed throngs of the “America-end” were fantastic. A seething cauldron of “USA USA” every bit as passionate and intense. In all my 25 years of watching the USA this was most fanatical and inspiring fan support against Mexico I have ever witnessed. This in a stadium in LA that basically represented home territory for the boys in green.

Mexico is indeed our arch nemesis on the soccer field, with a rivalry every bit as vitriolic and passionate as you would want. They are also an amazing part of the USA soccer fabric and have played and continue to play, an incredible role in soccer’s past , present and future.: they also represent a constant barometer to the skill and heart of the USA Team and the passion of its fans.

A great Mexico Team is exactly what soccer in the USA needs.

Note to Trump.

Come to a USA v Mexico game and see Mexican families wearing both the El Tri and the Stars and Stripes. Witness the respect for their own and the USA national anthem. Enjoy the tailgating parties where you will see both USA and Mexican flags billowing alongside each other , with both burgers and burritos aplenty !

This is Soccer in America and it represents the very best of a multicultural inclusive United States.

Viva Mexico!