No, America won’t be playing when the World Cup resumes this afternoon. But who cares?
I’m still watching the World Cup because I want to see Germany’s colossal back line pummel Brazilian strikers. I still tune in because I want to watch a disciplined Dutch team try to keep up with the creativity of Argentina. I’m still watching because I cannot wait to see who steps onto the pitch in Rio this Sunday to take home the title.
Like me, a record-breaking number of Americans have continued to watch matches after our team’s tragic loss — but look closely and you can call the bluff. Moments after our loss, I could hear American fans saying, “Does this mean I can stop pretending to care about soccer?”
If you compare the 21.6 million that watched the US play Belgium to the 6.35 million that tuned into the quarterfinal Brazil-Columbia matchup, the reports of record ratings no longer seem so convincing. Which is bewildering: Check Twitter on a weekend morning during much of the year, and you’ll see lots of your friends and neighbors up early to cheer on teams in England’s Barclay’s Premier League. To their credit, American soccer fans have outgrown the restraints of offsides confusion — but a full-hearted soccer craze hasn’t quite swept the nation. We’re still behind a team, not the sport.
Which is too bad. The remaining nations have rosters bursting with world-class talent.
According to Forbes, three top German players earn more than the United States national team combined. The four finalists have elite players that I know and recognize, just like every other dedicated American soccer fan — players like Arjen Robben,Dani Alves, and Sergio Aguero. Casual American fans might not have heard of them, and you won’t be able to pick up their jersey from Modell’s on the way home, but they are extraordinarily exciting to watch. The remaining players are the world’s best and we still have lots to learn.
No, I don’t think we have to streak on the field or scream “I believe” even louder. We do, however, need get familiar with the personalities that make up the game. Soccer stars do not yet draw a cult following from American sports fans in the same way that basketball and football players can muster. This is partially due to the fact that they’re not playing in our backyard. What we as American fans have to realize is that the distance doesn’t matter.
We can still idolize stars that are playing on a different continent. We should should still be excited about the teams and players that remain in the tournament. There are some great stories yet to be told.
Miroslav Klose, a German attacker, could become the player to score the most goals ever in World Cup History.
Brazil hasn’t lost a home game since 2002 .
Who knows what Lionel Messi could pull out of his hat for Argentina?
Or maybe the Netherlands will no longer be known as the best team to have never won a World Cup.
If, at bare minimum, Jurgen Klinsmann’s soccer dad-inspired outfits were what inspired you to get out and support, I’m sure it was well worth it. So why stop watching? American soccer fans can and will find some sort of charisma to hold onto. Sure, our team’s journey is over — but in some ways, the real excitement has just begun.
Follow Jessi Yackey on Twitter.