I love the World Cup. I love soccer in general. I've had pretty much a lifelong relationship with it and will likely die a soccer man.
On the eve of the World Cup, I'm pretty much brimming with anticipation. I've got my phone set for constant updates. Not that I'll need them, because frankly my calendar has been blocked off for most of the games and I'm fortunate enough to be in a work environment where all the TVs are tuned in (as well as my computer). My colleagues and I agree that it really should be considered a semi-holiday.
Which gives me hope for the future of American soccer. I have to admit, I do get a little disappointed when the majority of people don't seem to share my enthusiasm (though that may be a high bar). But the optimist in me sees a great deal of progress.
When Landon Donovan didn't make this year's team, the explosion on social media was crazy. While we can debate that decision (let's not though since every forum has already debated it to death), the takeaway was that people actually care. And that's good progress.
American soccer has really been making great strides over the past 20 years. The MLS is becoming a destination for world-class players who are still in their prime. Granted, it's a slow rise, but it's still happening. The league continues to grow as do home-grown players. Given it's starting point just 20 years ago, the progress has been huge and in the coming years the MLS will continue to grow as a destination for some of the best players in the world. It may never be the Premier League, but it will compete with many of the top international leagues, drawing some of the best from around the world and keeping the very best Americans as well.
Not only that, but in the next 20 years we'll be seeing America becoming a soccer powerhouse. A soccer superpower if you will. This World Cup, and its group of death, are likely to be difficult (my bracket has the US advancing, just FYI, so I believe it can be done), but over the next few World Cups I expect to see the US really arriving on the scene and dominating the Germans, the Brazilians etc.
Bold prediction: 2022 sees the US hosting once again, and going further than it has before under Jason Kries. Maybe wishful thinking, but still could be.
As for now, I think Brazil wins it all in front of the home crowd. They have a tough road, but it feels like their year. If not (and especially if it's Argentina's year), I expect to see a lot of people losing their jobs, from Brazil's manager up to their President.
I wish I could be down there now, enjoying the festivities and seeing old friends from around the country. But I'll content myself with watching as much as possible.
Go USA! Vai Brasil!
My personal musings on a variety of topics.