Congratulations to the millions of American sports fans who started paying attention to the United States men’s soccer team over the last few weeks at the World Cup!
No, really, I’m not being sarcastic this time — you’ve been awesome. Tweeting about the team’s chances, the watershed draw against England, the stunning way they won the group, and then the heartbreaking loss to Ghana, when the heart-attack inducing boys in red, white, and blue simply didn’t have the legs or the gas left in the proverbial tank to make one more comeback.
Maybe you even went to a bar, or watched some of these games with friends and family, or got your kids excited about the sport. Extra points if you did! (My three-year-old now asks “Did Dempsey fall down?” every time I yell his name. More extra points if you understand why that’s especially funny!)
So here’s the thing: I know from experience that it’s VERY EASY to COMPLETELY FORGET this sport exists (outside of video games, naturally) for the next four years.
If you’d like to see the team win next time, there are a whole mess of ways you can help.
Get excited and stay excited about the prospect of this country actually excelling at the sport the rest of the world plays.
- Follow the #USMNT hashtag on Twitter: OK, this is just too easy. #USMNT stands for United States Men’s National Team, and that’s where you’ll find the hardcore supporters, organizations, bloggers, and fans. That hashtag will let you know when the team is playing, how players are developing, and lead you to great blogs and other folks on Twitter to follow. This is simple, just go ahead and save the search in your favorite Twitter machine now. I’ll wait here…
- Subscribe to a few US-heavy soccer blogs: Again, pretty easy, you know how this works. I recommend The Shin Guardian, the official US Soccer blog, and The Yanks Are Coming. You’ll find more from there, and from the Twitter hashtag.
- Buy yourself a t-shirt: Also remarkably simple to do, and you get a fine piece of clothing that comes in handy on July 4th, too. Or at your kid’s soccer games. I’m partial to this one, a replica of the team’s current throwback-ish away jersey.
- Go to a professional soccer game: Sounds crazy, right? I mean, how are you going to get to England or Spain or Italy to see a professional soccer game? But wait, wait, we have our very own pro soccer league these days, and it’s come a long way from the days of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Not only is the MLS a respectable soccer league with folks like Landon Donovan, David Beckham, and Thierry Henry making appearances, but it’s also likely that there’s a team near your town. I know it’s time for me to start supporting DC United, for one, but you’ll find teams in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, LA, Boston, and even Kansas City, San Jose (again), and Columbus. Support your local team, cheer them on, and in the process, you’ll be putting your money where your mouth is, helping develop American talent for the national team. Bonus round: If you’re anywhere near the NY/NJ metro area, you can catch the U.S. national team, featuring a whole bunch of the guys you’ve been watching on TV the last two weeks, take on BRAZIL in a friendly exhibition, on August 10 at the New Meadowlands. Protip: If you’re thinking of going, check prices with fan clubs like Sam’s Army (official-ish, conventional, family-friendly) and the American Outlaws (young, fun, raucous) before throwing money at Ticketmaster.
- Play more soccer: Want to learn about the game, get excited, and stay excited? Jump in. If your kids are excited, get them into a fall league (or even a week-long summer camp). If you’re excited, search for local indoor leagues, or if you live in some major metro full of hipsters, you might find a cool co-ed outdoor league for adults. These things are everywhere, and players of a wide variety of skill levels appear to be welcome.