Originally Posted by Lihu
The Unites States really needs to get a great football team, and we have the talent. Unfortunately much of the athletic talent we have goes to American football. Unfortunately, American football will never really gain popularity in other countries, because it is just too complicated. It is hard to follow players and understand what they are doing at any time. First of all, you can't see their faces.
Football is much easier to follow because the rules are relatively simple, and when someone gets a card, it's usually pretty obvious.
If the American football fans disagree with what I am saying, I would challenge them to watch British Cricket match for 6 hours and try to figure out what is going on. This is the feeling any newcomer to football gets. The only reason why I attended football games is for the food, I eventually learned many of the rules through food assimilation. Same with Cricket.
As I've said before, I believe the US will win a World Cup before the much prophecised (and seemingly delayed) African breakthrough, but that doesn't mean that they're going to win of course.
There are a number of issues Lihu, but fundamentally I believe you're right, but I think it's worth recapping some of the advantages first, before I tell you how American can win the World Cup!!!
1: Population 320 million, bigger than anything in Europe (Germany 80m)
2: Rich (if it chooses to spend)
3: Advanced sports science industry
4: Established and well resourced university structure
5: Capable of setting up a functioning and non-corrupt governing body to oversee development (the corruption angle would almost make it unique in world football!)
The downside of losing players to other sports is more acute in America than most countries, but how many do you really lose to the NFL? Football is a cardio vascular game. 100% of your lumps of linemen wouldn't last 2 minutes on a football pitch. Look at some of them! Outside of sumo wrestling and Roman gladiators, I can't think of many sports people who actually carry fat on their stomachs. Similarly, even your poster quarterbacks stand about 6ft 4in and weigh far too much to be a footballer. They simply aren't fast enough, and they too would dramatically need to improve their fitness (which could be done of course) - but they're nowhere near conditioned enough to play 90 mins of football. A footballer will cover between 12-15 miles in a match, a running back is considered have had a good game if he manages 100yds. I suspect that all you're losing in reality though are a few receivers, safety's and some special teams. By the time your American footballers leave college they've got such over developed upper bodies (those who you might pass as athletes rather than linemen) and they'd spend a phenomenally large amount of time injured as football places a lot of stress loading on your knees. It'll be difficult for anyone cut from a roster to retrain as a footballer. The damage will have been done by then
On a population of 320 million, plus a ready supply of Mexicans, you should be able to source players though
The bigger drawback is the lack of a competive league. Don't worry, I can solve that for you too. Don't send your players to play in Europe individually (and especially not England where all they'll learn is how to chase, huff and puff, and then get caned in nightclubs). Go and buy a Dutch second division club and bring them over as a unit. Holland has always had some of the best technical coaches on the continent, and the game is played with a much greater emphasis on the skills there than most other countries. They'll learn a lot in Holland though, and more importantly, they'll learn to grow up as men for being away from home, and develop together as a team. Dutch lower league football is cheap and the American FA could pick up a ready made European club that's borderline bankrupt and playing in a technical league for next to nothing. You'd effectively use the Dutch league as your own academy. Any good players could then be sold into Europe's premier leagues to finance the whole thing. The English FA have been trying to build their own academy for decades now which has hit one problem after another. I did hear a rumour that it might have opened last year, but no one has noticed by now. Why the hell they never invoked European free trade legislation to buy a Dutch club I don't know. Their graduates would be playing competitive football every weekend instead of dribbling around traffic cones!
Whilst contemplating the wisdom of my 90/1 investment (45/1 to reach the final today) I did wonder on whether the absence of a world class indvidual player was damaging America, and could be the missing piece in the jigsaw. I couldn't decide. I also wondered if the emergence of a special indvidual was just about the last thing the American team needed though. I think in the end I came down on the side of the latter argument