Back In The US, Back In The US…
US Soccer honcho Sunil Gulati will announce on Monday plans to mount simultaneous bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups (no, we’re not going to host both, they’re going to bid for both and hope to get one).
On the one hand, this is great. We’re obviously going to get one – FIFA made so much money on the 1994 event that it’s incredible to me they haven’t come back. And playing at home can only help our team’s chances of doing well. Plus, it’ll further expose the sport to a lot of Americans who aren’t aware that when it’s played at the highest level, soccer is pretty damn beautiful.
On the other hand, part of the fun of actually attending a World Cup is seeing another country. Our trip in 2006 was the greatest experience ever. But America’s just too big to really follow the US team – you might get lucky and have them play near you, or you might be able to make plans to go to one or two games. And while the foreign fans make for a festive atmosphere, at the end of the day you’re still….in America. You lose that part of it.
It’ll also point out the huge disparity between soccer as it’s played on the world stage and as it’s played in our domestic league (which will have to shut down for the duration, there’s no other way to do it, I don’t think). I’m sure MLS will have made even greater strides by 2018 (by which point it will have been in business longer than the NASL), but it can’t help but suffer by comparison.
It’ll be lots of fun and will push soccer to the front pages and the tops of Americans’ minds for a month, so that will be a positive.