Thursday, December 2, 2010

Strong Foundations

I was on my way to the Newseum this morning to join the watch party when a friend e-mailed noting that early reports had the 2022 World Cup being awarded to Qatar. I thought about it for a moment, realized it was probably true, and headed to the office.

I am disappointed by the fact that the World Cup won't be staged here anytime in the near future, but doubt that it will have any lasting negative impact on the continued development of the game in this country. The result is certainly not good news for D.C. United, which will now lose a useful argument in favor of securing public investment to maintain a top flight team in the city.

But, in terms of the state of the game in the United States, there are all kinds of reason for optimism. And one, which few may care about, was on display earlier today in Vietnam.

When the Philippines qualified for the Suzuki Cup, I entertained thoughts of heading to Hanoi to support the land of my forefathers, but a quick check of our bank account indicated that no unknown benefactor had boosted our financial assets such that showing up at work was no longer necessary. Accordingly, I am reduced to having to follow the team's exploits on the internets.

Growing up pinoy introduced me to a careless disdain for soccer. Filipinos, as a general matter, did not seem to care for the sport and, in consequence, it is not terribly surprising that the country's national team has largely been a door mat in regional competitions.

However, of late, the quality of the Philippines national team has progressed significantly. Still, the team's one-one draw against Singapore in the first game of their group matches is stunning. Singapore was expected to obliterate the Philippines, just as the home country was expected to have a walk over against Myanmar in the other group B match.

But Singapore dropped two points thanks to the late equalizer off the foot of Chris Greatwich. That's right. Chris Greatwich. Of the legendary Morris County Colonials (of Morristown, New Jersey).

In other words, one of the most important goals in Philippine soccer history was scored by someone playing in the fourth tier of the American soccer pyramid (in the National Premier Soccer League).

As the American soccer pyramid develops further -- and perhaps we will see some period of stability with the USL focused on the third tier and NASL on the second tier -- it should increasingly offer opportunities from players throughout the world and American players will, in turn, benefit from higher quality opposition in the domestic game.

Chris has (along with his two younger brothers) also benefited from participating in the college game in the United States. Chris, like his brother Simon (currently a sophomore) played college ball at Hartwick College near the former National Soccer Hall of Fame and the third Greatwich boy, Phil, finished off his college career this season up the road for the Towson Tigers.

Separate and apart from the foregoing, reading about the Greatwich boys has me a bit embarrassed that I had no idea that there was a fourth division club team in Howard County, the Thunder Soccer Club. If the Red Devils rejoin the NPSL next year, then I will have even more opportunities to drag my family around to soccer contests. Hoorah.

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