Joga Bone-ito

Joga Bone-ito

What’s the sitch with how the United States will eventually win a World Cup?

Let’s face it, America’s first World Cup Title will likely not come in 2014 (though that won’t stop me from betting most of my savings that it will). But, the US of A is the greatest country in the world in terms of military might, monetary wealth, and athletic prowess (the three categories people care about). It is only a matter of time before we do win one. The question is then how we can we the people make that title come as soon as possible?

There are a lot of fine theories floating around. Establish world-class development programs to find talented players early and allow them to grow. Pour money into the MLS in order to recruit the best players from other nations to come showcase their talents on our soil. Instill a rich culture of soccer in our youth with some kind of propaganda.

All of the above are obviously important to our eventual domination of world’s favorite sport. But they are not new theories and they all take an indefinite amount of time. I think I speak for most of us when I say, waiting isn’t ideal. 

Another problem with staying the course is that soccer is not just a numbers game. We have 13 million people playing registered soccer in the United States, which probably leaves out millions more playing the game on the black market. Uruguay has 3.3 million people, period. Even if we assume they all play soccer (which is probably a safe assumption) that gives us a huge numbers advantage when it comes to selecting our national team. Yet they made it to the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, while we didn’t make it out of the group stage. I won’t even mention their two World Cup Titles. 

Yes, Uruguay is an extreme example, but you could call up the stats on pretty much any nation at the top of the football (that’s what they call soccer) world, and notice that the U.S. has a distinctly larger pool of players to choose from, without even factoring in the amount of money we have to devote to each one. What gives?

It comes back to this vague “culture of soccer.” We don’t have it, they all do. And I’m not convinced the multiple sports vying for dominion over our children is all that important a factor. We have plenty of children to go around. 

It’s the fact that the children we do have playing soccer aren’t playing it with each other, spontaneously, all day every day. Our soccer players are going to structured practice a few times a week, playing a match or two, and then going home to study math or whatever. In Spain, by the time you’re 12, if you aren’t playing soccer six hours a day, and studying soccer the other 14, you probably aren’t going to make it onto the C team at the local recreational center.

This ‘culture’ of soccer is a tough one to force. It has to develop from the ground up, over long periods of time. And again, I hate waiting. We need a jump start for our national team’s talent pool, and we need it now. 

I propose we start a covert campaign, on a national level, to send many of our most athletic young men overseas for anywhere from two to twenty years. While inhabiting these strategic cultural hotbeds (such as Brazil, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Argentina, etc.) these nobel young Americans will be charged with impregnating as many of the local women as possible. Our government will give financial support to them and their growing families, with the agreement that their children get involved in soccer as early as possible. Our soccer citizenship pioneers will be there for the children’s development, offering the love and support any good father would. 

These kids will develop in environments that have been shown in the past to result in world-class play. But they will have the option to play for the United States National Team, owing to the fact that their fathers were all American born. 

This may be a slightly controversial strategy. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work. 

Yes, many of the children wouldn’t pan out as professional soccer players. We would support these families until the children are no longer dependent on their parents, and then we would wish them the best, even offering safe passage back to our golden shores. And of the children who did pan out, some would choose not to play for the U.S., shrugging off their father’s wishes (or more accurately, commands) to play for the nation they grew up in. We would do our best to indoctrinate them with American pride from an early age, flying them to the ‘homeland’ as often as possible, and decking out their rooms with subliminal American propaganda. Alas, some would get away. And perhaps we would strategically hobble the most talented defectors with a Tonya Harding-like metal pipe (we can cross that bridge when it comes). 

The point is, regardless of small imperfections, this strategy would undoubtedly lead to a larger pool of creative young soccer players with legitimate American ties. And it would give us a more concrete timeline for when to expect drastic improvement in our National Team’s play. We know how long normal pregnancies last, and we know how long it takes for children to mature physically, so depending on how fast the brass upstairs respond to this post, we could see the first children of our “Joga Bone-ito,” program within two decade’s time (especially if they implement the steroid regimen I’ve included in the appendix). 

This gives us a definite goal of the 2034 World Cup. Perhaps we could be winning by then without this reproductive vision. Perhaps. But why take chances on such an important stage? One thing is certain: this program will not hurt our chances. Even if the whole thing crumbles after being uncovered by an international investigative body, and we are sanctioned (or some shit), it will show our youth that we are serious about winning this thing. We are taking steps toward getting better. Steps that may include engineering populations of people abroad for the benefit of our trophy case at home. 

I should mention that I realize this could be construed as quite male-centric, even to the point of sexism. I would respond to those totally reasonable critiques by saying, our women dominate! They don’t need a program like this, especially because we have the best culture of women’s soccer in the world, right here in America. I am not discounting that, and I am not discounting our Women’s National Team’s continued place among the elite squads on the planet. I am merely suggesting a quick and dirty way to bring our men’s team up near the level that our women’s team has inhabited for so long. And if any of our athletic women would like to be soccer citizenship pioneers, joining their male counterparts abroad, they would, of course, be welcome.

Coffeeshop Eavesdropping

Coffeeshop Eavesdropping

Forms & Abbreviations

Forms & Abbreviations