The World Cup still hasn't conquered America

I have a fat file of clips of the U.S.’s World Cup history. One of the first is from the June, 1983 issue of Sport magazine which begins: “Soccer [in the U.S.] was the sport of the seventies. No, make that the sport of the eighties. Well, maybe if the NASL can put together a team to play in the World Cup. Would that do it?”

It didn’t do it. The NASL (North American Soccer League) went under in 1984, and Team USA again failed to qualify for World Cup competition in 1986. (We actually didn’t make it to the World Cup from 1954 through 1990.)

1994 was supposed to be the turning point for the U.S. team in the wake of success as we advanced past the Group Stage to the Round of 16 before losing to mighty Brazil “just” 0-1. That year Jeff Klein wrote in the Village Voice that U.S. soccer had reached “the Zeitgeist” and that “soccer had conquered America.”