US soccer: we've arrived!I remember after Brazil lifted the 1994 World Cup, winning coach Carlos Alberto Parreira was roundly condemned because though his team were world champions, they were not sufficiently flashy enough for the country's fickle fans. 2002 winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari faced similar criticism. England boss Sven Goran Eriksson has faced calls for his head despite having lost only one World Cup qualifier in something like 15 or 20 matches. His crime: his England side (whose only major international trophy was back in the 1966 World Cup and whose fans regularly overestimate their side's potential) are 'too boring.'
That's how I know US has truly arrived as a world soccer power.
Sure, we've been a fixture in the top 10 of the world rankings of soccer's international governing body FIFA. Granted, these rankings are useless. It's hard to take seriously a system that ranks the US and Mexico ahead of Italy and Germany or one that ranks Nigeria and Cameroon behind Iran and Ireland or one that ranks the Netherlands as second in the world despite not having made the final of (let alone actually win) any major tournament since 1988. But it does correctly reflect the rise of the US from also rans into perhaps the second-tier of world soccer.
Sure, we've won three continental championships since 1991.
Sure, we made the quarterfinals of the most recent World Cup.
Sure, we recently secured our fifth consecutive appearance in the world's greatest soccer party and after 56 years (between 1934 and 1990) with only one World Cup appearance, regular qualification has since become an absolute expectation.
But you can tell soccer has arrived in the United States for one simple reason. commentators are no longer content with actual winning, they want it done with style. Once you get fans whining incessantly despite unprecedented success, then you know you're on your way to becoming a true soccer power.