The WSJ just recently published this article on the lack of US supremacy in the futbol world.
The author, Matthew Futterman, states that the US is losing out on excuses on why we do not have a bonafide soccer player (aka a Lionel Messi of our own). Futterman argues that there is still a long way to go before we see a superstar. I would agree, but I also believe that Futterman has missed a major point: motivation.
It is true that a larger number of individuals are playing the sport, and thousands of kids play each year, however from a younger person’s point of view there is still a lack of wanting to take his/her skills to the ‘next level’. Why? Simply because the US does not focus on soccer. Television is dominated by Sunday football and weekly basketball/baseball/hockey. There is a huge sport saturation due to the existence of the Big Four. The youth are watching these other superstars and not the Messi’s or Ronaldo’s of the world.
In contrast, the rest of the world focuses on soccer as its primary sport. Therein lies the disconnect. The motivation to be on TV, the veneration by the US masses on a consistent basis, and the promise of money (with the MLS as the main US soccer league, there is little money to be earned compared to the other sports) encourages up-and-coming atheletes to chose a Big 4 sport.
So unless the US starts to focus more and more on soccer (which we are currently seeing due to the halo effects of last year’s world cup), we will still see a lack of elite soccer superstars.