They sing “Soccer’s Coming Home” to the tune of the Skinner-Baddiel classic.
This is a popular chant for American fans before the World Cup showdown. It pokes fun at their English counterparts.
It was said by the crowd as we watched the University of Maryland play Fairleigh Dickinson University.
The gag is the substitution of “football” for “soccer”. For UK listeners, it’s an lyric that can only have been written in fingernail and blackboard.
It’s the most benign end of the scale for supporter wind-ups, far from the terracing destruction in the land where it all began. It seems that some cultural traditions take longer to pass.
US soccer is still football. But it’s not the same as what we know in the UK.
It is where players “turn-and-burn”, wear “cleats” instead of boots, take “PKs”, and not penalties, and yes, it’s where they take liberties with even the name of the game.
From fall men to contenders
The US men’s soccer team has come a long ways, no matter how you phrase it. They are now fall guys-cum-contenders, in a sport America discovered late.
The game was unable to compete with American football, basketball, and baseball as it grew in popularity.
The country’s male footballers are long in the shadows of its women’s team. They are a sporting power and have won the World Cup four times, a record.
Women’s soccer has seen the benefits of a college system that attracted many of the best female athletes in the country to soccer scholarships. Their male counterparts were more inclined towards traditional US sports.
FC Dallas’ US Soccer Hall of Fame hosts a display which recalls the famous 1950 World Cup match in which America’s men beat England 1-0.
They made a movie of it, The Miracle Match. Seventy-two year later, it would not be surprising if the United States beat England in Qatar.
Who is predicted to win the World Cup
Men’s soccer is ‘taking off’
The US men’s soccer team is ranked 16th worldwide after a difficult journey to establishing a soccer system.
Sky News spoke with Dan Hunt, chairman of FC Dallas, about the domestic growth of the men’s soccer game.
He stated that “American soccer’s success really dates back to 1994.” The United States hosting the World Cup in 1994 sparked a new generation on the men’s soccer side.
“The women’s soccer was already a success and doing well but the excitement and energy brought really kicked started soccer in this country again.
It’s been a long history of starts and stops and fits. The big win against England in 50 was a great reference point. After that, we went completely dark for 40 years between 1950 and 1990.
The old NASL (North America Soccer League), has ended. As a nation, we had to fulfill our promise to create a professional first division league. That’s what brought MLS to life.
“The first years of MLS were difficult, but the pivotal moment for me was 2002 World Cup, where the US team did very well with a few MLS players.
“Some had already traveled abroad and achieved success in Europe. But that really was the foundation. Only a year prior, MLS had spoken about closing down and that was just what we needed to get the momentum we needed.
“The MLS has taken off since then.”
The points are shared by the USA and Wales in the World Cup opener
The college system is still a viable route to professional football, even though American football club academies have become more of a feeder for the highest levels of the game.
The University of Maryland has a strong talent production line. Graduates from its scholarship programme have participated in five World Cups.
Sasho Cirovski, the university’s coach has had a long and successful career in American football.
Sky News interviewed him and he said that the American college system was unique in the world. It is the only place where you can combine high-level academics with high quality soccer in a residential setting that offers incredible facilities.
“You are prepared to cope with being away from your home, and you are prepared to meet the expectations of performance.
You’re scrutinized by the media and challenged by coaches. And you’re surrounded by players who want to become high-level pros and win championships. It’s possible for players to realize their dreams when they have the right support network.
“We have the advantage of being able watch, experience, and learn from other sports. American athletes have a competitive spirit and a winning mentality. They also possess a toughness that can be adapted to different sports.
“For a long period, we had to learn from watching English Premier League or Bundesliga games. Now we can see it in our country. We can see it through other sports so you have a lot of options to learn.