The FIFA World Cup has been the world’s most prestigious and electrifying sports competition since 1930 and continues to capture the attention of the world to this day. No other sporting event on a global scale has the pageantry, drama, and suspense of the FIFA World Cup. It is genuinely a breathtaking spectacle of not only human athletic ability, but also human emotion. The struggle to become the world’s best football team is a beautiful one and for the 32 national teams bravely representing their countries, every second on the pitch (soccer field) is played with desperate urgency. Every goal scored comes with a wave of unexplainable glee from the players and their supporters, and every goal conceded stings with the pain of bitter despair.

As the 2010 FIFA World Cup prepares to finish itself tomorrow, I must say I will be sad to see the non-stop wave of top-notch international football depart my TV programming. For a whole month, I was spoiled by the likes of ESPN and ABC to 64 highly entertaining football matches. But above all, I was really spoiled by the US National team, who despite losing in the Group of 16, had an overall gutsy performance in the 2010 World Cup. Sure, I, like all of the Team USA supporters, would have loved to see Team USA hoist the Cup, but their performance in this World Cup cannot go without being applauded. It should be applauded with the notion that the US National Team not only expects to win every match but to also simultaneously grow the sport of soccer in America.

See, ever since the US National Team’s pre-WWII performances, which include a marvelous third place finish in the inaugural World Cup of 1930, up until the 1990s, the US National Team had been sub-standard and the sport of soccer in America was considered a niche activity. Unlike the rest of the world, which has seen soccer (otherwise known as “football”) as their primary sport since inception, America gravitates more towards sports that were first birthed in their modern form in the USA, like football, basketball, and baseball. Also, unlike the rest of the world, the US did not have a lucrative and famous professional soccer league until 1967. Put that in contrast to the Football League of England and Wales, which has been kicking (pun intended) in some form or another since 1888. In this country, the tide of soccer’s popularity rests solely on the performance of the US National Team.

A great example of my logic can be seen in the US soccer renaissance of the 1990s. A second place finish spurred it all in the 1989 CONCACAF Cup (a tournament of the best national teams on the Western Hemisphere) and a 1991 win in the same tournament. The 1989 runner-up result actually qualified us for our first World Cup in 40 years. Success continued when we proved the world wrong by hosting the 1994 World Cup and showing the world that the US could be a true soccer nation by setting all-time attendance records. As the host team, we made it to the round of 16 for the first time since 1930 and lost to the eventual champions, Brazil. To coincide with our 1994 World Cup hosting berth, North America’s first professional soccer organization since 1967, MLS (Major League Soccer), was born and continues to expand to this day.

The US National Team single handily revived the sport of soccer in America. Soccer is being played all over the country by American youth, and America actually has the highest amount of registered youth players playing in organized leagues in the world. After the US National Team’s amazing performance in the 2010 World Cup, they can be credited with creating thousands of new soccer fans in America. The support for the MLS has grown steadily over the past few years which has allowed a few teams to see profitability for the first time since the league’s creation. I know I for one will be following my hometown D.C. United for years to come, which is something I couldn’t say I would be doing before the 2010 FIFA World Cup commenced.

So, my appeal to you is to give soccer a try. Watch the final tomorrow and witness the passion, glory, and athleticism of soccer on a global scale.  Go outside one day and hit the pitch with a couple friends. Follow your local MLS team or look online at the different professional leagues that exist around the world and pick one to follow. It took me a long time to realize, but soccer is a great sport and is great fun to play.

Also, help give yourself a chance to witness FIFA World Cup soccer right here in America in 2018 or 2022 by signing the petition at the USA Bid website, http://www.gousabid.com. We’ve got until December to fill the petition up with names, so tell everyone you know about it (whether they like soccer or not). It takes  only a few seconds to sign and all you need is a zip code and email address. You can also sign the petition for the city closest to you to become a match host city at http://www.gousabid.com/city.

Have fun watching the Cup final tomorrow!