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.

Iceland Is The Smallest Nation To Reach The World Cup

Source: Statista

People in Iceland are looking forward to another summer packed with thrilling action on the soccer field after their national team qualified for the 2018 World Cup last night. Iceland beat Kosovo 2-0, securing the precious ticket to the tournament in Russia, continuing one of soccer’s greatest fairytales. Iceland’s emergence as a soccer power has been surprising given that the country only has a population of 340,000 people. Kosovo has a population nearly six times larger and it’s roughly equivalent to the number of inhabitants in Santa Ana, California. Despite its serious shortage in manpower, however, Iceland has managed to punch well above its weight on the soccer pitch in recent years.

The tiny nation’s remarkable performances can be attributed to a plan formulated almost two decades ago. That saw heavy investment in indoor sports complexes and heated pitches as well as a sharp focus on education and coaching in particular. That resulted in the country producing some 600 qualified coaches, 400 of whom have a UEFA B license, equating to one coach per 825 inhabitants. England has one coach per 11,000 inhabitants.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Paraguay competed in the 1930 World Cup with a population of 860,000 people. However, that tournament did not actually involve qualification so it is better to compare Iceland’s achievement with that of Trinidad and Tobago. The Caribbean island nation qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany with a population of 1.3 million people. As impressive as that achievement was, Iceland have made it to Russia with less than a quarter of Trinidad and Tobago’s population.

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There Should Be No “Women” in Soccer !

Gary Hopkins

Gary Hopkins

Source: Soccer-Biz-USA

This from a father of 2 Daughters

Because the World Cup Final played on Sunday July 5th in Vancouver was not a condescending “aahh ..How nice the girl’s get to play” match. It just might have been the savior of a sport , the press are portraying as: mired in controversy; full of financial shenanigans and with a credibility lower than a Greek Banker.

  • Firstly, for the soccer dinosaurs out there, let’s destroy the myth that this was “just” a Women’s World Cup Final.
  • Tell me the first 15 minutes were not as exciting as any we have seen in years.
  • Tell me Carli Lloyd’s 50 yard goal was not as good as any witnessed recently.
  • Tell me the exquisite “execution” of Holiday’s volley was not soccer perfection.
  • Tell me the tackling,ferocity,and commitment of both teams lacked anything.
  • When they got knocked down…they got back up again (quickly!)
  • When they got “cut” they were patched up and came back on.
  • When they were inconsolable their teammates (and country) picked them up.

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If you did not watch this World Cup Tournament you missed out on games full of excitement,entertainment,honesty (sure there were a few dives here and there!) with a freshness, intensity and dare i say it “purity” that seems to be slipping away in the modern game.

This was soccer at its best…not “Women’s” Soccer…just Soccer (or futbol/football if that’s your preference).

The legacy of this tournament is not about “girl power” or “entitlement”: no, the true legacy is one of recognizing the tremendous technical skill, lung-busting fitness, tactical smarts and a relentless commitment to the only cause that mattered: winning the World Cup.

These players did the soccer world proud and as a tournament it now stands alongside Brazil 2014 and all other major tournaments to follow.