One of my favorite TV shows of all time is the Newsroom starring Jeff Daniels; yes the guy from Dumb and Dumber. The show revolves around him and his crew covering real life news stories but doing so by providing just the facts. In a time now where you are judged based on what news station you watch which in turn makes you Left or Right wing extremist, it is a refreshing show that just wants to provide the news how it should be presented in an unbiased fashion.
I bring this up because for most people they are mostly familiar with the opening scene from episode 1 of the series that went viral all over Facebook and other social media outlets for some time. The scene has Jeff Daniels character sitting in between a liberal and conservative on stage in a college auditorium having a yelling debate while Mr. Daniels seems indifferent and really apathetic to the whole thing. At one point even responding to a question of his political affiliation as a New York Jets fan.
The climax of the scene is when a young sorority girl asks everyone on stage "Why America is the greatest country on earth?" The liberal responds with diversity and opportunity. The conservative responds with freedom, of course. Jeff Daniels responds with the New York Jets. The moderator of the debate presses Mr. Daniels to properly answer the question untill finally Daniels snaps. He bursts out that America is not the greatest country on earth. That no one likes liberals because they may be so smart but why do they always lose. He hits at the conservative saying that over 180 countries have freedom so don't wave that in the face of students. He goes on to state that America is 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, and the list goes on. He shuts down that America is the greatest country on earth.
This is relevant because this has been our delusion of the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team. For the past 5-10 years we have believed that we are so "star-spangled" awesome that we can compete with any team in the world. We've taken our arrogance of other American sports in which we dominate across the world such as American football, basketball, and baseball and have applied it to soccer with nothing to back that up. It has become abundantly clear that the "play to pay" system has done nothing but make U.S. soccer players into something they shouldn't be. Pretentious, arrogant, and simply babied to the point of no return. We've earned nothing and to make it into the World Cup it is earned not given.
We've poured insane amounts of money into Major League Soccer and during my time watching soccer I've seen mass growth around our wonderful country. This is why when we lose to countries like Trinidad and Tobago who don't have the resources like us or even close to the same population. In perspective Iceland has a population 1/100 of the United States and they even made the World Cup.It hurts me even more because I've seen instances of brilliance from the USMNT, take the Panama game for example There has to be changes from the culture to the structure of U.S. soccer starting from the top down.
I return back to the college auditorium where Jeff Daniels looks up and says,"ya know things weren't always this way." "We stood up for what was right, we fought for moral reasons, we waged war on poverty not poor people, we helped our neighbors, we explored the universe, cured diseases, made the greatest economy, we expired for intelligence, we didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for, and never beat our chests while doing so." USMNT used to be this hard hitting and passionate team that never boasted or felt above any other nation. We played for the sport not the fame. We had an identity and fought to the last minute. The U.S. Men's National Team is not the greatest team on Earth, but it can be.