What If – America got dumped by Antigua?Imagining if the US failed to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup at the hands of minnows Antigua and Barbuda
by Jeff Maurer | Thursday, May 17, 2012
I have long considered the US failing to qualify for the World Cup to be the worst thing that can happen in sports outside of somebody dying or anything positive happening to the New York Yankees. But we all have a part of our brain that can’t help but fantasize about the worst case scenario. Have you ever been looking off a ledge and been tempted to jump? Have you ever spent time with someone so disgusting that you can’t help but imagine having sex with them? That part of the human psyche is very real, and mine is particularly well-developed. So, allow me to indulge that part of my brain for a minute as I imagine what it would be like if the US were to fail to qualify for the World Cup due to a loss(es) to group-mate Antigua and Barbuda.
Antigua and Barbuda is a country that most Americans couldn’t find on a map. However, Nigeria is also a country that most Americans couldn’t find on a map and 170 million people live there, so maybe that’s not the best way to gauge a country’s prominence. On the face of it, A&B have an unfair advantage: we have to play Antigua AND Barbuda! That’s two against one! No fair! But a closer look reveals that A&B might not be the soccer powerhouse that they appear to be on the surface: there are about 82,000 people in A&B. That’s roughly .027 percent of the US population. That’s fewer people than live in Flint, Michigan. Imagine if the entire US team had to be comprised of people from Flint, Michigan...Michael Moore would be our attacking midfielder!
But let’s give A&B soccer their due. They did top their preliminary group, which included fellow Sandals-Resorts-with-a-flag Curacao and the US Virgin Islands. It also included Haiti, and on the one hand: Haiti is not that small of a country. They have 9.7 million people, about 118 times A&B’s population. And that doesn’t include Joe Gaetjens, Jozy Altidore, a chunk of South Florida or any of the approximately 1.2 million Haitians you’ll encounter if you take the M-train in New York City. On the other hand, soccer is only the third most popular sport in Haiti behind live ammunition dodgeball and survival. Still, credit A&B for winning their group. And credit A&B for almost being in double digits in the latest FIFA rankings: they’re tied for 100 with Northern Ireland! Think about that: if George Best were alive today and had dual citizenship, switching to A&B might actually increase his odds of playing in the World Cup!
Still, if the US were to fail to qualify, and to fail to qualify at the hands of the mighty
Banana Sunrise Daiquiris (I'm not sure if they have a team nickname, so I’m giving them one), I would be apoplectic.
I would be writing to the President and encouraging an invasion (hey...we did it to Grenada, so don’t think we’re above it). The US would miss out on our quadrennial advertisement for the beautiful game, Bob Ley would be underemployed and we would have to explain that it happened because we couldn’t beat a country whose entire population could fit into Texas Stadium with room to spare. I’ll try not to let that nightmare scenario make me think negative thoughts about the A&B team; after all, they did well to get this far, and you have to respect the grit and pride that it takes for eleven guys from a tiny country to take on one of the biggest, richest countries in the world.
So, when A&B come to Raymond James Stadium on June 8th, and stand tall and proud as Jimmy Buffet plays their national anthem, I will try to fill my head with respect instead of thoughts of impending doom.
Good luck, you brave, UV-resistant footballers. Enjoy your moment in the sun, or, um...your moment in a metaphorical kind of sun that is different from the literal kind of sun where you spend most of your time. Play hard. Play well. And then lose by nine goals and get back to the jet-ski rental stand before those newlyweds have to call management and complain.