In a stunning loss to Trinidad and Tobago, a country with less than one percent of the United States population, the U.S. was booted from the 2018 qualifications for the FIFA World Cup. Many Americans are feeling discouraged from watching the World Cup in general because of a ‘take our ball and go home’ mentality.

I am an avid soccer fan and I think that the United States failing to qualify for the first time in almost 30 years acts as a wake up call that we can’t expect to compete with our team just phoning it in. Other countries live, breathe, and bleed soccer and it’s time for us to get a little bit heated and learn from the teams that are doing it right.

I have no fear that viewership of the FIFA World Cup will diminish because Americans are still immigrants and descendants of immigrants. To be honest, the frustration of losing to a weak squad and not even making it to the World Cup will hopefully prompt American pride to observe other teams and figure how we can dominate in the future.

Another important factor that makes this World Cup important to watch is that the United States, Canada, and Mexico are jointly hosting the World Cup in 2026. In short time these games will be held on our home turf, where defeat would be very personal and even humiliating.

With so many sports dividing our attention in the United States, sometimes the viewership and participation in soccer and other international sports declines because our talent is spread so thinly. However, I hope that a punishing defeat and not being able to play on the world’s stage will be enough to motivate us to develop a dominating squad for the next World Cup.