The dust has settled, the bitter acrimony has crested and now it is time for perspective. The United States will not be going to the London Summer Olympics. Neither will France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, Australia, the Ivory Coast and Ghana. England wouldn’t have qualified either if it weren’t part of the hosting Great Britain team. Spain qualified, but for only the first time since 2000. Brazil’s qualified as well, but has never won gold.
Still, the indictments came down harder than the old Giants Stadium turf; despite America’s illustrious non-qualifying company. NESN’s Marcus Kwesi O’Mard said ‘mediocrity has become normal.’ The San Francisco Chronicle’s Alan Black deemed that American soccer lacks ‘hunger.’ It gets worse. The Denver Post’s Chuck Murphy brazenly blamed the poor performance on the players’ privileged background claiming, “…many of the players, all of them highly skilled, have been coddled for most of their athletic lives…Hardscrabble? Hardly. A couple are the children of university professors. One is Ghanian royalty. Several attended the prestigious IMG Academy.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Tim Warsinskey deemed the U.S. an ‘embarrassment’ and was left so despondent as to contemplate whether “…American soccer’s future is in its past.”
Depressing reading, but the level of invective is unwarranted in light of the relative meaningless of the Olympic soccer tournament and the historical lack of qualifying by many of the sport’s traditional titans. For example, France has qualified once since copping gold in 1984, Holland has qualified once since 1952, Germany has yet to qualify since unification, and Uruguay has qualified for the first time since 1928.
No nation’s World Cup win has been preceded by Olympic gold since Italy’s 1936 triumph. Moreover, the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics, yet has qualified for every subsequent World Cup, and lifted the Gold Cup in 2005 and 2007.
So let’s slow our roll on the doom and gloom. And if Canada’s 2-0 win portends a new power up north, so be it. Stronger CONCACAF competition will only beget stronger American soccer.