Last week was a rough one for U.S. soccer fans. Coming into the second-to-last pair of World Cup qualifying matches, the men’s national team had rebounded from its earlier failures and was positioned well to qualify for Russia 2018. Heck, even a single win out of the final two would have put American soccer fans at ease.
But as we all know, that’s far from what happened. In its two matches against Costa Rica and Honduras, the U.S. looked sluggish.
In its first match of the weekend against Costa Rica, the U.S. looked sluggish. Actually, they looked downright awful. It was a terrible showing, but fans seemed to agree that we could forgive the team for losing at home because it was Costa Rica, a formidable opponent.
No way would we lose to Honduras. We just recently beat them 6-0 and we were a far better team. Alas, by now we all know what happened. The U.S. couldn’t capitalize early on and our defense let us down yet again.
Without Bobby Wood, we would be in a very different place mentally and emotionally. Thanks to his late equalizer, the United States grabbed one point from the match but more importantly took two points from Honduras.
But what if Bobby Wood didn’t score that goal?
Huge difference between US tie and loss. Loss would likely force US to win last 2 games just to make the playoff.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) September 5, 2017
Imagine summer 2018 without the U.S. in the World Cup. Now remember what the headlines were like during Brazil 2014. Bars packed with hardcore and casual soccer fans alike. Tears of joy and sorrow packed into every game. Americans living and dying with the national team.
If Bobby Wood didn’t score that goal, we could be facing the very probable reality of the first America-less World Cup since 1986. And without sounding too hyperbolic, that would be catastrophic to the growth of the sport.
The World Cup is an opportunity for the casual fans to get exposed to the beauty of…well… the beautiful game. It generates massive TV ratings, and it convinces networks that they should invest more in the sport moving forward.
If the U.S. don’t make the World Cup, it would be a significant blow to the development of the sport.
Right now, we are on an exponential trajectory when it comes to fan engagement and growth. While an America-less World Cup wouldn’t reverse course, it would most definitely stall the fast-paced progress.
So for now – thank you, Bobby Wood. U.S. fans of all sorts still have hope for a memorable 2018.