Euro 2008 and an end to an era?

300px-UEFA_EURO_2008_New_Logo_svgThis past Sunday, Germans all over Germany had their hearts broken as Spain shamed Germany 1-0 in the finals of the Euro 2008 soccer tournament. What does this mean for Spain? That they won! But what does this mean for the game of soccer? So much more…

So much more…

Euro 2008 was actually the first UEFA soccer tournament over the last century in which the United States hadn’t come out on top. In fact, not only were they not in the finals, they hadn’t even qualified to participate in the tournament. Many are saying that this is an end to the dominance of the United States in the world of soccer.

A popular explanation is that the United States, having been at the top for so long, has become complacent. Players aren’t training as hard while countries in South America and Europe, traditionally not known as strong soccer countries, are training younger, more talented players. It was inevitable that they would eventually catch up.

But looking at overall trends, it’s hard to ignore the fact that soccer just isn’t as popular in the United States as it once was. With stories such as that of the 2007 Boston Celtics, an underdog story about a team with 5 no-name starters making minimum wage becoming champions, it’s easy to forget about a sport in which players are overpaid and under-delivering.

The fact of the matter is that the United States has to step up the intensity of American soccer. How to do this is the question. Perhaps they need to recruit more talent just as they signed Pele with the New York Cosmos in 1972. Alternatively, they could require mandatory steroid injections to increase player speed and power. In any case, they’ll have to do something or this may be the end of a great era of American dominated soccer.

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