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Losing to Trinidad and Tobago confirms third-rate status
It’s as if a Major League baseball team lost to my 8-year-old’s Welles Park Iron Pigs fall ball team.
The United States lost Tuesday to Trinidad and Tobago (population 1.3 million) and was stunningly eliminated from the 32-nation, once-every-four-years World Cup soccer championship in Russia next year. In countries as diverse as Argentina, Cameroon, France, South Korea or Croatia, such a pitiful performance against a terrible team already out of the competition would be front-page news and cause for major change in a national soccer program’s strategy and officials, including the coach. There’d be hell to pay.
And here? There’s a rolling of eyes and yawns, that’s it. The dismal failure was buried in most sports sections and reminds how media indifference plays a part in the sorry state of soccer at the international competitive level.
For decades, one has read tales of the sport’s rise in America, the increasing number of youth playing the sport (like my two kids) and the improvements in the U.S. national team, be it the men or women. The women are indeed strong, though attempts at pro leagues for them fail. The men just stink.
The media fills sections with the MLB playoffs, serves as de facto marketer for the NFL with scads of football coverage, and now offers lots of pre-season NBA stories and early NHL season stories.
Dan McGrath, former sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, says that, yes, “soccer is not in the wheelhouse of many sports editors/reporters/columnists, maybe because we didn’t grow up playing it or following it, really, and we don’t feel comfortable analyzing or even commenting on a game with which we’re not familiar. Thus there’s not a great drumbeat/demand from the media for change. We don’t even pretend to…