Warshaw: The World Cup is gone; now American soccer needs us more than ever
I have no words.
Itâs 9:56 pm EST. The USMNT has just lost. They are eliminated from the World Cup. My dad emailed me, âThis sucks.â Heâs right. Iâm not sure thereâs anything to say other than that. If you close this article right now, I will not blame you.
I will not provide analysis of the game. I have thoughts on where the US went wrong over the last four years â" or 10 years, or perhaps 20 years â" but I will save them for another day.
For last 20 minutes of the game, my heart was pounding out of my chest. When I saw on Twitter that Panama had scored the go-ahead goal, my body went into a state Iâve ne ver experienced.
No crowded stadium or speech or conversation has ever made my body feel the way the final whistle of this US game left me. I just put my head in my hands, unable to grasp the impossible nature of the very real reality.
The pain is the spark
I expect everyone else felt something similar. I expect millions of people around the country felt similar pain and sadness. I got mad for a moment that anyone â" Bruce Arena, the players, Jurgen Klinsmann, Sunil Gulati â" could let this happen. Then, as I sat still unmoved from the same spot, something else occurred me.
I have no words but, strangely, I have a hope.
This is how it starts. This is the spark. This is the pain and emptiness and devastation that spurs action.
A lot of people will write articles denoting blame for how this happened. Writers and tweeters and former pros will say what the American soccer system needs to do differently. Some will be right, some will be wrong. And it matters, of course. How we scout players, how we develop talent, how we groom pros, it all matters. But hereâs the thing, and itâs the reason that I think actually makes us all love this god-forsaken sport in the first place.
Nothing matters nearly as much as your personal relationship with soccer and/or a soccer ball.
Soccer can happen anywhere. Soccer does anywhere. And in that, we all have agency to create change from anywhere.
Great players arenât developed in strict regimes; great coaches arenât cultured in methodical courses; passionate fans arenât built in a lab.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the big scheme of things, that we forget what we are all here for in the first place.
Now it falls on us
Donât get deterred. Donât get scared away or disenchanted or jaded. Think about how good it feels to care about something; remember how good it feels to be alive. If we brought this much energy to everyt hing we did, the world would be a better place. We got burnt this time, but soccer isnât going away forever.
We aren't dependent on the US Soccer Federation to change the development system. We donât need MLS to implement new rules. We need a goddamn soccer ball and a patch of grass.
Get your kids right now and go kick a ball. Go get your friends and meet at a bar and talk soccer. Your kid can be the American star that makes sure this never happens to us again; you can be the coach that develops the next American star.
Every ticket you buy to a local college game or NPSL game or USL game matters. Every comment you write on an article matters. Everything you yell in a stadium matters. Coaches and players will tell you that they donât listen to fans; they are lying. It all seeps into the ecosystem.
We all have the ability to get smarter and be better and have a real tangible impact. I, for one, will spend a long time figuring out how I felt s o comfortable that the US would qualify.
Iâm being sappy right now, I realize that. But I refuse to be sad. Thereâs way worse stuff happening in the world. Being sad about soccer wonât get us anywhere. And I totally refuse to assess blame right now. True change takes a calculated, systematic effort, separate from the heat of the present emotion.
Now we really know whatâs on the line. Our players, our fans, our media, now get what we are all doing this for. Itâs holding your head in your hands, unable to move.
The best players move on from the last play as soon as it ends; they start thinking about the next play. Whatâs next for us? American soccer needs us, everyone, more than ever.
Too often in life we only realize how much we care about something when itâs gone. This World Cup is beyond, yes, but not the sport; not our future, not our passion. We have a rare moment to feel our hearts get broken, but get up and fight again.Topics: Commentary
- Catch up on what you missed in Week 31October 10, 2017 (23 min)
- Red Bulls are back & Pulisic saves the USMNTOctober 9, 2017 (14 min)
- Dummies, flicks and tricks | Skills of the WeekOctober 9, 2017 (1 min)
- USMNT thrives with backs against the wallOctober 9, 2017 (7 min)