U.S. Missing World Cup Could Have Large Ramifications On Soccer In U.S.
The USMNT's failure to qualify for the '18 FIFA World Cup after losing to Trinidad & Tobago last night will be "damaging for soccer, and particularly men’s soccer," in the U.S., according to Henry Bushnell of YAHOO SPORTS. It will "not be catastrophic or disastrous," but it "will be harmful." The sport has "progressed to a point where it does not need a World Cup to survive, or even to sustain long-term growth." However, the "beneficial offshoots of World Cups are plentiful." If the ultimate goals are "thriving professional leagues and world-class national team programs, World Cups contribute to the mission in many ways." They generate "interest in the sport," which "takes many shapes." The failure to qualify likely will "shrink future player pools" and could be "detrimental to development efforts, and to the talent level and depth of future national teams." It will by "no means cripple the men’s national team program," but the effects probably "wouldn’t be negligible either" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/11). SOCCER AMERICA's Paul Kennedy writes soccer in the U.S. "isn't so popular that it can afford to miss an opportunity to grow the support, especially among young fans in their late teens and early 20s who are such huge soccer fans" (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 10/11). ESPN's Mike Greenberg called missing the World Cup a "devastating blow to soccer in this country, a gut punch to the growth of soccer in this country" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 10/11). USA TODAY's Andrew Joseph wrote the sport of soccer in the U.S. is going to "feel the lasting effects the most." Every World Cup is an "opportunity to grow the sport on the biggest stage" (USATODAY.com, 10/10).
THE PAIN GOES DEEP:The AP's Ronald Blum writes missing the World Cup is a "devastating blow" to the U.S. Soccer Federation, which has "steadily built the sport in the last quarter-century with the help of sponsors and television partners." It also is a "trauma for Fox, which broadcasts the next three World Cups after taking the U.S. rights from ESPN" (AP, 10/11). ESPN.com's Darren Rovell notes the "biggest losers" from last night include Fox, Nike and MLS. Nike's current deal with the USMNT runs through the '22 World Cup, but the brand "can't capitalize for another four years" with yesterday's loss. Meanwhile, U.S. players "doing well on the big stage help the MLS gain relevance." Not having that stage could make it "less important" for players like USMNT MF Christian Pulisic to "feel the need to possibly leave Europe and play in the U.S." (ESPNFC.com, 10/11).
TWITTER REAX: One of the themes that emerged on Twitter was how crushed U.S. soccer fans are by this result. Yahoo Sports' Leander Schaerlaeckens: "A reader sent me a 4,705-word email about the state of U.S. Soccer at 3.50 a.m. In case you were wondering where things stand with the fans." CBS News: "American soccer fans are in shock." Galvanize VP/Digital Marketing Andy Glockner: "I'm really at a loss for words. This is abject failure. A disaster of huge proportions for U.S. soccer. Utter embarrassment and disgrace." Another theme was how far the U.S. women's program is ahead of the men. ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach: "The bright side of the U.S. soccer debacle: Maybe now they'll finally pay the women's team what it deserves." CONCACAF broadcaster Juan Arango: "One of the major issues in USMNT program is this hubris, this arrogance that they were better than everyone else. No, they aren’t the women."