Disappointment, disbelief, puzzlement, rage. Watching the US fall to Trinidad & Tobago as seemingly impossible results elsewhere in Concacaf streamed in made it was clear that the impossible would happen - the US would miss the World Cup for the first time since 1986. Reasons why have been posited to death and how to avoid it happening again, much less how to win the tournament, have been campaigned for, typed about, yelled about on the TV, and discussed to the point of frivolity. It doesn’t seem like much will be changing and if it did, nothing would send the US to Russia in any case.
So how should you cope with a World Cup without the USA? I have 12 suggestions.. let’s call them 12 Rules for Life Without the US in the World Cup. They might not help you at all, but at least none of them include any ridiculous suggestions about turning into a lobster, enjoy!
12. Clean your room Skippy Sorry that’s someone else’s advice.
12. Catch up on some reading. Just because the USMNT won’t be playing in Russia, it doesn’t mean that the national consciousness won’t be enthralled by Bruce Arena explaining to everyone why losing two games in World Cup qualification wasn’t his fault. What’s Wrong with US?:
Horrible puns and worse excuses A Coach’s Blunt Take on the State of American Soccer After a Lifetime on the Touchline comes out on June 12 - just on time to not watch the US in the World Cup.
I mean, look at that cover - it has a deflated soccer ball on it. In the writing business we call that symbolism so subtle that it hits you over the head and loses all meaning and subtlety.
11. Watch MLS.
Wait. Why are you laughing?
10. Iceland made it - you can wear a viking horn hat and lead your soccer friends in a viking clap and yell AFRAM ISLAND at the TV while eating fermented shark meat. Remember, if you are going to support another country at the World Cup, you have to go all out so find someone who can flense a shark for you and get that right amount of funk on your viewing party platter. It’ll be just like if the US was playing in the tournament. Iceland is a team that never gives up and relies on teamwork over skill to get results, plus they wear red, white, and blue - what more could you want?
9. Pretend you aren’t American. This might sound drastic, why would anyone NOT want to be an American? Surely our country hasn’t done anything ever to draw the ire of the entire planet. Anyway, denial is a powerful drug, it keeps marriages together, gets politicians elected, keeps television shows on the air, and can make you think you are French or something - give it a try!
8. It seems weird, but the best way to cope with not being in the World Cup is knowing that the USMNT won’t have to be overshadowed by the incredible kits that Nigeria, Germany, and Brazil will be wearing.
7. Know you are in good company. Italy, Chile, Ghana, Holland, none of these countries are in the World Cup either. This may be of little solace, why is it comforting to know that the US is in good company with bad teams? Simple. Between dysfunction, good competition, and lost generations, even teams that have a chance at winning the World Cup in their best year won’t be in Russia. Yay, we’re just like Italy!
6. Host a World Cup viewing party even if the US isn’t playing. None of your friends watch soccer anyway and your co-workers probably didn’t know that the USMNT missed the tournament, but who can pass up morning beer? You can all bond over how terrible VAR is.
5. Be comforted by the fact that we don’t have to look forward to Bruce Arena managing the team for the next four years after the US gets out of a group with Russia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Imagine the book he’d have written if the US did qualify for the tournament!
4. Read about how a team full of petty, soft, tattooed millionaires turned on their teammates and blamed diversity for failing to make the tournament and be glad it happened here and not in Russia.
3. Think about how you won’t have to focus on a disappointing showing at the 2018 World Cup and about how you can focus on being disappointed by the US not winning the vote to host the 2026 World Cup.
2. Hold your own World Cup with US matches from past tournaments. Do some digging, find some replays of games that might represent how the team would do in the tournament based on how things went in qualification. I suggest going with Czech Republic 3 - 0 USA from Germany 2006; Iran 2 - 1 USA from France 98; and Czechoslovakia 5 - 1 USA from Italy 1990.
1. Know that Mexico won’t get past the round of 16. Wallow in this one. Mexico might be a great soccer nation and has the most popular national team in the US, but they’re probably going to lose to Germany by 7 goals in the group stage and get eliminated by Moldova or something in the round of 16. Remember this?
Or how about this?
Because I remember that and Mexico remembers that and something like that is going to send them out of the tournament again this year.
So there, now you know how to cope with the USA not being in the World Cup this year. Feel better?