Klinsmann: Think of US soccer as elite
Is this a contradiction? No. Klinsmann is trying to foster a positive approach toward the game, and this could be the year to do it, especially if the US advances out of the worst World Cup draw in its history.
Add that MLS is expanding to 24 teams by that year while the NASL and USL Pro are adding nine teams by 2015, along with smaller towns claiming championships for well-advertised teams, and you have a formula for popularity and growth, and talented players who may otherwise have never touched a soccer ball. And don't forget how DC pulled off a miracle championship in the US Open Cup despite setting the record for fewest wins in a single MLS season (3). The Astros would be proud.
But there will always be problems. Soccer is looked down on as "unamerican", especially with the popularity of American football. The officiating in the lower leagues is better than in MLS, and CONCACAF is worse. Just look at the "stretcher series" between the Houston Dynamo and Arabe Unido this past year, in which even Bobby Boswell posted a picture of a stretcher and labeled it, "The Man of the Match" after the first game, while AAU's strategy worked in the rematch, putting them in the quarterfinals with no corrective action taken by the referee. Americans tend to be fair weather fans. Add to that attacks by "opinion makers" during the 2010 World Cup, and you have a recipe full of negativity.
So I ask: What will it take for the US to actually reach the point where it is as strong as in other countries?