So says USA Today:
The World Cup didn’t miss the United States. No one in Moscow was dipping hot dogs into their borscht and sipping Bud Lights as a show of sympathy. There were no Stars-and-Stripes T-shirts hidden beneath replica jerseys of teams that, you know, actually bothered to show up and take part in the tournament.
Why would they? Sympathy doesn’t appear in the soccer lexicon. Every nation has suffered its share of soccer pain — even the countries who have won the World Cup multiple times — and there is no room left in any soccer fan’s strafed psyche for feeling sorry for anyone else.
If heavyweights such as Italy, the Netherlands, Chile and Ghana weren’t going to be wept over, then the Americans weren’t either.
Besides, the U.S. has a bigger, more immediate and closer-to-home problem to fix right now. Not only did the wider world not miss the Americans at the World Cup, plenty of Americans got over the initial shock far quicker than they might have expected.
Television ratings would naturally have been given an upward bump by a few USA matches, but do you hear any voices suggesting that the event has been spoiled because of the farcical catalog of failure that led to the team’s qualifying exit?
The last time the squad did not make the World Cup was 1986, and such was the status of stateside soccer at the time that barely anyone noticed. They noticed this time, yet while the audience was aware of the absence, any tears were shed last October, when the U.S. lost to a hopelessly out-of-form Trinidad and Tobago and got bounced.
Over the past month, Americans have learned to enjoy a World Cup featuring no American team. For U.S. Soccer, that is a problem, although by no means an unfixable one: