The Summer of U.S. Soccer
Yanks turning heads, garnering global attention
Two weeks ago, the United States made global headlines when the justice department exposed a 24-year, $150 million scheme to corrupt international soccer’s governing body, FIFA.
When Swiss authorities, at the behest of the U.S. Department of Justice, carried out a daybreak raid at the five-star Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, the world turned on its axis. A few days after a 47-count indictment, which includes alleged wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering planned or carried out in the United States or through U.S. banks, was released, and four days after being re-elected to a fifth four-year term, FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced his resignation.
That was off of the field.
Now U.S. Soccer is making news on the field.
A week ago, the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) defeated the Dutch in Amsterdam in a thrilling come from behind win, which saw the Americans score two last-minute goals to win 4-3.
On Wednesday, our guys defeated the World Cup champion Germans in Germany, 2-1.
It may have been the best six-day run in U.S. Soccer history. Often viewed as a soccer backwater, to knock off two European powerhouses was quite surprising.
In addition to the men’s team, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) opened group play in the Women’s World Cup with a 3-1 win over Australia on Monday. While it wasn’t a dominant performance, our ladies got the result they wanted. Tonight they head into a highly anticipated match with Sweden, coached by former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage. Having already won two World Cup trophies and currently ranked second in the world, folks aren’t and won’t be surprised by our ladies’ domination on the international stage. Still, World Cups are loved because of the drama involved in the beautiful game and the sudden turns that can take place at almost any moment.
If you are new to soccer or just a casual fan, this is a great time to explore the game. As aforementioned, the USWNT play tonight and again on Tuesday (both games at 7 p.m.), before, hopefully, advancing from the group stage to the knockout rounds of the World Cup.
The USMNT, meanwhile, will feed off of its recent European victories to prepare for next month’s Gold Cup, a tournament of CONCACAF (The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) member nations. Our guys open play on July 7 against Panama before taking on group members Honduras and Haiti. If the USMNT wins the Gold Cup this summer, the team will automatically qualify for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, essentially a warm-up for the 2018 World Cup.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the success our men’s team is having at the Under-20 World Cup (as in all players are under 20 years old). On Wednesday they beat Colombia, 1-0, in the round of 16 and advanced to a quarterfinal matchup against Serbia on Sunday. Great job and good luck, boys.
Finally, attending live sporting events is often more entertaining than watching on the tube. If you need to be there to feel part of the action, our own New Orleans Jesters are in the middle of a five-game home stand this month. The Jesters play at Pan-American Stadium in City Park and offer a great, family-friendly product. See you soon at the Pitch in the Park.