There is a certain type of American who, as he or she watched the seconds tick down on the USMNT’s devastating loss to Trinidad & Tobago and, moments later, those in Honduras’s stunning win over Mexico, felt a rush of self-important pride. Whether it be for reasons of philosophical differences about how to organize soccer development in this country, or because the person is that insufferable type who supports some tenured European side and now doesn’t have to compete for a spot at the bar with “casuals” there to root on their national team at 8 a.m. on a workday, or because they’re a right-wing lunatic who considers soccer a socialist sport, or because they’re a left-wing lunatic who considers backing one’s national team a gauche act of jingoism, the reality is that a lot of people aren’t crying in their coffees today that the United States will miss its first World Cup in 32 years.
Fuck all those people.
Fuck that CONCACAF continues to give the Pac-12 a run for its money in incomprehensible, match-deciding officiating errors, but fuck also the mysterious and byzantine U.S. Soccer system that both fails to produce young, competitive players and drags our veterans away from the competitive leagues that might help keep them sharp, with the end result being a squad that loses to, yes, Trinidad and fucking Tobago. Fuck that in spite of such incompetence and felonious mismanagement, a once-in-a-generation talent has emerged, and now he’s going to be deprived the opportunity to face the world’s best on the largest international stage (for awhile, at least).
Fuck the idea that this was necessary, that our affairs were in such disorder that only complete destruction could prompt the needed transmutation of ataxia to strategic organization. While you’re hoping a group of people who have never once proven the ability to make a good decision will come to Jesus and wake up with a new 10-year plan to Make American Soccer Great Again, the next Christian Pulisic is picking up a basketball instead of being inoculated with the dream of representing his country in the planet’s biggest sporting event.
Fuck that the World Cup was literally the last thing that brought the country together, more or less, behind the same cause. Nobody cares about the Olympics anymore, our basketball teams stopped being interesting 25 years ago, and our hockey teams now feature a bunch of people of whom you’ve never heard (for the men) or a singular competitive rival against whom it’s hard to generate much animus (for the women). Men’s World Cup soccer was the one sport where just about everyone could set aside the both the problematic history of this country and its somewhat terrifying future and be a ridiculous pro-U.S.A. nationalist for 90 minutes. It’s healthy, psychologically, to have something to be proud of, even if it doesn’t all work out in the end.
Fuck that this is probably our last time seeing guys like Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, DaMarcus Beasley, Geoff Cameron, and Chris Wondolowski playing for our national team. Certainly, their lack of performance is what put us in this situation to begin with, but they’re also the players who contributed to things like the 2009 Confederations Cup run, the memorable 2010 matches against England and Algeria, and two separate five-match unbeaten runs against Mexico. It’s time for them to move on, but we’d prefer it have been on terms other than in an empty stadium in Couva, Trinidad.
And, finally, fuck that the USMNT’s absence from the World Cup and its subsequent lack of broader coverage from mainstream U.S. media outlets will inevitably result in great stories from other countries being overlooked. Iceland! Panama! A fascinating but complicated Colombia team! Senegal (probably) or Burkina Faso (unlikely, but would be great)! English-language rights holder Fox will inevitably shift to El Tri as its “home” team—good luck with that one, y’all—but the reality is that a lot of people really are just going to skip over the soccer this time around, and that doesn’t do anything for anyone worth doing anything for.