For the first time since 2002 (when admittedly i did not pay so much attention), i am not going to the World Cup. Notably, neither is the USMNT, but Russia is not a nice place they stole it, later other things, from us, and doesn’t deserve more of my tourist dollars.
In four years, i’m not going, either, because Qatar is not a nice place and they stole it from us and they do not deserve my tourist dollars.
In eight years, happily enough, i won’t have to go anywhere because it’s coming here.
Some words about the above:
A lot of ink’s been spilled about the USMNT fucking it up royally, but this relatively recent article best reflects my assessment of it (which is not of course the same as being most accurate, necessarily, but it’s very well-reported). For me, Klinsmann always struck me as a button-masher with pretensions, someone who had success at the highest level (and obviously on-the-field) but could never communicate why. And it grated on me as a lifelong defender that he never seemed to care about running out a good, or even consistent backline. The best i could say about him is that he asked the right, provocative questions, but he’d also sold us on the idea that he had answers to them. Arena, on the other hand, might well have succeeded if he took over earlier and the US did not dig such a large hole, but he shared a major problem with Klinsmann (hardly unique to either of them). They both leaned on certain players as binkies no matter what kind of form they were in or where they fit on the field. Really, neither of them actually got their best 11 on the field as often as they could have, which is an insane thing for us to have been accustomed to.
And that sucks for the tens of thousands of Americans who are still going to the World Cup, because it’s an amazing time, it really is, and it’s a damn shame that a big part of it they could have reasonably expected and planned around is going to be missing. I feel sad for the people who aren’t going to get to sit in Gelsenkirchen and endure the taunting from an opponent who kicked your ass. Worse for the people who never have the adventure of fording a river of sewage to get to the match in Recife in the 88th minute. Worst for the people who won’t get to sing and shout madly for 90 minutes at altitude in Pretoria until that goal happens. For the stories that are still numerous, amazing, indelible, i hope, but disconnected from the drama of the 31 other countries’ worth of frenemies butting heads. It sucks that all they get to do is be a spectator.
Past Streams of Consciousness from Past World Cups: