Imagining the Impact of a United States World Cup Win

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2013

The United States men's national team has had its fair share of landmark moments in its 100-year history, but one moment that can top them all would be the lifting of the Jules Rimet Trophy at the climax of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. 

Winning a trophy that once seemed totally out of reach would finish off an amazing run that Jurgen Klinsmann's club have taken us on since the German took over for Bob Bradley in 2011. 

Klinsmann's appointment came at the perfect time for a hungry American squad that suffered utter disappointment at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after experiencing sheer jubilation in the same tournament. 

Three years ago, the two most recognizable faces in American soccer back thenand still to this date Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, delivered a moment that fans of the Yanks will never forget. 

Donovan's stoppage time group-clinching goal against Algeria sent Americans into a spell of dramatic celebrations that were worthy of a very patriotic YouTube montage that incensed even the casual American fan with a sense of pride in their national soccer team.

Unfortunately, the dream ended in South Africa for the Americans three days later against Ghana in extra time, and all of sudden the traction gained by the national teamand the sport itselfin the States was erased. 

So, just imagine the excitement level around the nation if Dempsey, Donovan and new, bright stars like Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley advance past the round of 16 this timeand further on into uncharted waterswhich would be considered the semifinals and eventually the final. 

Treading water in those uncharted waters has not been the goal of the Klinsmann regime, but going into those waters and coming out as a battle-tested side that will make any nation in the world fear them is.

The United States team is playing with a ruthless mentality that no side before them has shown. Instead of being content with winning by a goal or two, Klinsmann has constantly urged his players to go forward and by multiple goals.

If there is one thing we have learned about the casual American soccer fan, it is that they love goals and absolutely dread goalless draws. 

That same soccer-viewing public is a finicky bunch that are quick to criticize every move and even quicker to celebrate the achievements of their national team, which has left them heartbroken and disappointed on numerous occasions. 

Winning a World Cup would send that part of the American population into a celebration for the ages that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

But, what about the rest of the population that would not be able to point out Dempsey or Donovan if they were standing two feet away from them on a street corner? 

What about the group of people that U.S. Soccer and its domestic product Major League Soccer have been trying to reach out to for decades? 

Well, to be brutally honest, the only way that section of the public would pay attention to the United States men's national team legitimately is if they leave the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janiero with a trophy.

American fans expect their national teams to be the best at everything, and not to sound brash or cocky, but most of our teams are the best at what they do. 

Every time an Olympics is held, the top medal-getter at the global competition is expected to be the United States. If that goal is not accomplished, the Olympic team as a whole is looked down upon. 

Inside that group of Olympians, among plenty of talented individual athletes, are the men's and women's basketball teams that possess the world's best players in that sport. Both of those teams have been highly successful at the Olympics and draw a respectable audience whenever a gold medal is on the line, which is usually every four years. 

If we were to relate this concept to the sport of soccer itself, the perfect example of this is the United States women's national team. 

For most of the last two decades, the U.S. women have been the best team in the world, but they have been pushed to the back burner because they have not won at the sport's highest level since 1999.

Everybody remembers the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup and a certain celebration from the penalty spot at the left end of the Rose Bowl by Brandi Chastain. 

The image of Chastain overcome with joy after scoring the winning penalty against China is one that will always resonate with the American sports fan. 

Currently, the American men do not have a moment like that, although some could argue that Donovan's goal in 2010, the win over England at the 1950 World Cup and the famous "Dos a Cero" victory over Mexico in February of 2001 in Columbus, Ohio, are among some of the best American soccer moments ever. 

However, after the golden generation of American women took home the title in 1999, interest in the sport kept falling off, especially when the team was unable to repeat as champions in 2003. 

Yes, there have been Olympic gold medals and numerous minor trophies won by the women of Team USA ever since, but to be honest, neither they nor the men will be relevant to the entire American public until a World Cup is won. 

While the interest in the men's game is completely different than the women's game at this moment in time, which is unfortunate given the superb talent on the women's side of the sport, the full interest in American soccer will never be there until the men achieve the ultimate goal.

We in America like to be the best at everything, and we carry an immeasurable sense of pride with that title. 

To be the best in the game of soccer, and to matter to an entire nation, not to just the fans of the game, you have to win the World Cup.

Winning the World Cup is a feat that no one ever believed would be possible for the United States, but with a 12-game winning streak in hand, and some of the best players the nation has ever produced playing at a high level, it is something that is not out of the picture next summer. 

If that momentous occasion does happen next summer in Brazil, you better believe that the beautiful game, known as soccer to us here in the United States of America, will have finally arrived for good, and it will never disappear from the national radar ever again, like it did in 1999. 


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