• Henley and Pants, Asaf Ganot
  • Jacket, Sweater, and Shirt, Asaf Ganot; Shoes, Nike
  • Jacket, Shirt, and Pants, Asaf Ganot

The United States of Soccer The United States' most decorated player gives American Soccer's State of the Union address

     Trust me when I tell you, we’ve come a long way in American soccer. A long way. You no longer have to find a Mexican restaurant and drop money in the kitty to watch the US National Team play via satellite. That is what you had to do not all that long ago.                                    
     It’s been rewarding to see the energy and passion of the US fans after the most recent World Cup. Much was made of the roster selection before the team left for Rio. To be honest, I thought Landon Donovan would be fighting for a starting sport on the team, myself. You can always debate who should play, who should start, was the strategy was right.
    What you cannot debate is that US Soccer has arrived. We are players on the global stage. The world had an opportunity to see some of our very best players, players who make their living in Major League Soccer, go up against the best players in the world and do more than hold their own.
    Going into the World Cup, I was hopeful. Being in the “Group of Death” is never a welcome draw, but I was hopeful, because whenever people held little expectations for the US team, we always surprised people. It’s what we did in 1994. It’s what we did in 2002. And it’s what we did in 2014.
    And when a US team qualifies for the World Cup and makes it to the round of 16, it builds the confidence of every soccer player in the country from the youth level to the pros. We still have much to do, but we are well on our way. 
    Seeing US players being signed as designated players in MLS and making real money was something that needed to happen and now it is. Our best players are able to play on their home soil, earn a good living, and show our fans the talent of the American soccer player.
    We are also seeing players at much younger ages going overseas for development. It’s not fair-fetched idea that in a decade’s time, US players will be the topic of a conversation as to who is the best of the best in the world, when there is a chance to start grooming many of these young athletes at 12, 13, or 14 years old.
    Day by day, and year by year, the growth of a domestic academy system here in the United States is what will help put a solid stamp on the development of our players. To compete with the others sports in this country, we need to have an infrastructure that recognizes the best athletes and gives them an opportunity to further their skills, so they can go on to become the top professionals and earn a living comparable to athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB and other pro leagues. Our players will continue to value who they are in the community and what they can do on the pitch.
   When you look at the viewership of the World Cup, the new television contracts with Univision and Fox, the fans are growing, the money is growing. The talent needs to grow as well.
    I would also love to see more development of the secondary leagues here in the US. There needs to be an alternative for players to learn their craft and prepare themselves for professional opportunities.
    In just two years, we will be back on the world stage in Rio De Janeiro. The US team will prepare for the Olympics, another barometer of where we stand in the world’s game. If the World Cup and the current state of MLS is any indicator, the future is very bright.