US Soccer, the Bengals and Why I'm All in on the USMNT

The conversation starts every four years as it has since I, along with the rest of America, tried to become soccer crazy in 1994. There was no doubt about it, soccer was here to stay. You know what else was here to stay in 1994?  Ace of Base.  I know, bad example because they’re just a one hit wonder, right?  They didn’t even have much impact in ’94.  There’s surely a better example…

 As our distinguished Chief Editor is reading this for the first time he’s thinking “Hmm, that analogy doesn’t make sense and I have to think of a better one for my analogy-handicapped West Coast Bureau Chief. But - did you know Ace of Base had THREE (3!) of the Top 10 Singles of 1994??  Can you name them?  I bet, if you stop and think, you can, and now you’re going “Oh yeah, I remember that one too….”.  You’re welcome for that, it’s what I do for a living. (That’s right, I’m Ace of Base’s biographer). 

All that she wanted in this case, however, was not another baby, but the assurance that 1994 was the beginning of US Soccer dominance. Unfortunately, the outcome was the same….she was gone tomorrow, boy.

Soccer did not take off, MLS is still battling the WNBA for NBC/FOX SPORTS ONE top billing, and the US has been ousted in the first round of the knockout stage of another World Cup.  

 Now, as all the fair weather fans start to drift away and I assure them that US Soccer really WILL be a world power soon they’re gonna laugh at me.  It doesn’t bother me though, you know why?  I’m built for this.  

 My whole life I’ve gotten the same GD response when telling someone I’m a Bengals fan - “I’m Sorry” or “Ouch, why”?  First, it’s my team and second, if you say another word I’ll fight you like you just interrupted Barry Gibb on his talk show.  

 

Transient

That’s called loyalty, Gerry.  

 Though as I continue to endure the same old ‘Bungles’ ribbing I’ve become used to, it hasn’t bothered me much the last 3 years.  You know why?  It doesn’t apply anymore. The Bengals have been one of the best drafting teams in the NFL the last 4 years even though I know we will never get the respect until we get that ‘Chip.

Yeah, we may not be a superpower yet, but I GUARANTEE you when other teams see us on the schedule nowadays, the warm fuzzies they used to feel have been replaced by chilly unease.  

 Oh wait — bad writer error — I didn’t specify which team I was talking about.  You know why?  Because it applies to both now.  

 The Bengals absolutely dominated Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers last year to the point they didn’t even want to come out in the 4th quarter.  Seriously, go back and watch.  

 Belgium absolutely destroyed us in that final game — yet there we were closing fast at the end behind Julian Green and our prizefighter Clint Dempsey.  

 Conversation from halftime of USMNT opener in 2018 :  

 Dempsey : “I can’t believe it.” 

Klinsmann: “what?” 

Dempsey : “They broke my nose again.” 

Klinsmann : “Ehh — its an improvement.  But hey aren’t you glad we caught those chickens?"

For 25 years now I’ve had to endure the merciless abuse long inherent with Bengals fandom.  With a couple bright spots here and there, it has been incredibly brutal.  But now — the foundation is laid for a bright future and at least for this year, we are on the fringes of the Super Bowl Discussion.  

Since 1994, I can’t say I’ve been as committed to US Soccer.  That all changes now.  I believe in Jurgen (more than Marvin, we’ll save that for another column) and in the foundation he is laying.  

US Soccer probably won’t win the World Cup next time either, but I can guarantee when those 3 other teams in our pool look down and see the US (perhaps even on US Soil) — they will be shaking their heads.  

 Maybe they’ll even give Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers a shout and ask how they dealt with the relentless attack.