I have never followed American soccer too seriously. I have tried several times over the years but my loyalties never really landed in their bandwagon. Nor any other country's bandwagon for that matter. I have been left (abandoned!) without a bandwagon to hop into. Enough about bandwagons.
It is a hard version of the sport to appreciate because, in my opinion, it lacks what the Europeans and South Americans bring to the game. The discrepancy is simple. To them the game is organic. Football* is an inherent part of their culture. The players are sincerely passionate about the game. There is a certain synergy between the players and the culture; they feed off each other to create magical football beauty.
On the other hand, it is difficult for Americans to produce any team worthy of international respect because America simply lacks a true football culture. Sure, more and more young Americans are playing the sport but, unfortunately, it is all in vain. Even if the game takes root in the homeland, it will always pail in comparison to Basketball, American Football, Baseball and probably Hockey. The MLS (Major League Soccer) will succumb to the same fate as the other leagues that preceded it:
-NASL (North American Soccer League), think Pele and the New York Cosmos
-MISL (Major Indoor Soccer League) The Wichita Wings come to my mind, with their host of my childhood heroes: “Stormin'” Norman Piper, “Fast” Eddie Henderson, Tatu and of course Chico Borja.
The NASL lasted from 1968 to 1984. No one went to their games. The average attendance was around 15,000 people. The MISL, which began in 1974, only ran for 14 seasons before “a protracted salary war with a new indoor league ultimately spelled its demise.” The new league would be the MSL, not be confused with the current outdoor league, the MLS…
(I imagine the MISL was attempting to reach a larger fan base by dropping the “I” for “indoor” to yield “Major Soccer League.” I can just imagine the rational, “Now just wait one minute. Don’t give up just yet. Think about it this way: now the public will think we are both an indoor and outdoor soccer league… our attendance will double! Ha!”) Well, I guess the joke is on them since the average attendance for the 2005-06 season rang in at a shocking 4,737. The league is still technically alive but its supporters are fighting off the pro-euthanasiast (the banks who loaned them money). Most of these teams have been fighting off bankruptcy for the greater part of the last decade.
I have tried to throw my support in with those teams who play better football. But I was always the first to admit my status as an imposter. I followed the Series A division in Italy (even though I knew nearly no players and couldn't pronounce anyone's name…) and I rooted for Italy in the 1994 American World Cup. Alexi Lalas and Cobi Jones couldn't fool this twelve year old. But as I have grown older I find myself more content with my predicament. I no longer choose sides. I just watch the games and appreciate soccer beauty when I am lucky enough to witness it.
Teams of notable worth in Germany:
-Argentina is something else. Loinel Messi, only 18 years old.
-Germany and their two Polish forwards, Klose and Podolski.
-Brazil. Nothing yet, but don't give up on the likes of Rohnaldino and Kaka.
*Football is the term used by the rest of the world for what the Americans call soccer.