When Landon Donovan was left off the U.S. World Cup roster, there was – in many parts of this country – shock and outrage. And when Jurgen Klinsmann said the United States couldn’t realistically contend for a World Cup in 2014? Yup, more shock and more outrage.
And that’s a great thing for American soccer.
“It was water-cooler talk across the board,” Fox Sports and Soccer on Fox Host Rob Stone said on The Damon Amendolara Show. “People were discussing it. (They were) upset, angry, curious (and) passionate about it. I think it’s all a good thing for soccer.”
An older gentleman recently told Stone that he was surprised Stone watched soccer with his children. Stone’s response? It’s a generational thing.
“You are in the midst of a generational flip,” he said. “You grew up watching baseball, football or basketball with your kid. Well, our kids these days are watching soccer with their parents and parents that understand the sport and know what’s going on and understand the storylines and the conversation points. This thing is flipping right now.”
“I‘m not saying the NFL or college football need to be worried, but the sporting landscape here in the States is flipping – and flipping hard and fast.”
Which is why so many people were angered by Klinsmann’s negative outlook.
“I think we all understand where he’s coming from; you just don’t want to hear it,” Stone said. “But it’s a fact. The U.S. is not going to win this World Cup. Having said that, there’s this patriot in me that comes out. Did Herb Brooks say, ‘You know what, guys? Let’s not pack the skates and the pads and the helmets and head to Lake Placid. It’s Russia’s for the taking. Why do we even bother?’”
“That’s the American sentiment: You get out there and you play. Things happen.”
If things are going to happen for the United States in this World Cup, they need to happen Monday against Ghana, which sent the Americans packing in 2006 and 2010.
A win over Ghana means that the United States would likely just need to tie Germany or Portugal to advance to the knockout stage.
“If you’re comparing Ghana to Portugal to Germany,” Stone said, “I’m going to take my chances with Ghana and then I’m going to have to roll the dice with these two others, which means you’ve got to take care of Ghana. You got to get your three points right there. It’s the opening day, which amplifies things that much more. You need to get these tournaments off on a good foot, and that’s something that they haven’t really traditionally done through the courses of these World Cups. So this is the game that they are looking at and saying, ‘All of our focus needs to be here. We need to get our three points.’
Tying Ghana wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but it wouldn’t be all that inspiring, either.
And a loss? A loss would be catastrophic.
“They need to take care of business on Monday, and then they’re going to sort out everything else that’s going to happen after that, including Portugal on Sunday,” Stone said. “This is as close to a must-win game as you’re ever gong to see in a World Cup.”