Here’s a challenge to all the US Soccer Bloggers out there. Why are you part of Sam’s Army? What drives you to support the US Men’s Team (and hopefully the women’s team in 2007!) Just saying "I’m American", while a completely valid reason, isn’t good enough. What is it that drives you as a US soccer fan? Everyone assumes that US fans are just being nationalistic, and some are. But many are driven by more than that. Here’s what drives me…

Those that read this blog know that my involvement with soccer in the US revolves around youth soccer. I help run a small soccer league in North Carolina. Our soccer league was created and run by parents who wanted a local program for their kids to play and learn soccer. We were always told by the city that there wasn’t enough interest for them to run a program, so we started our own. In four years we now have over 700 kids playing in our league and the city recently constructed a new complex for us to play in. Talk about a turn around. I’ve grown to love the game seeing kids of all backgrounds learn the beautiful game, seeing the light go off, and seeing kids excited to play. My goal as a coach is to develop players, a few of which hopefully will play beyond the recreational league. Even for kids who never play beyond recreation hopefully will love the game and stay fans later in life. We had a league event when England played on Saturday and while our kids worked out, many parents were glued to their Blackberries and cellphones getting updates on the match. Even some of the kids asked what the score was from time to time. That was amazing to see. I get chills when I see a family or a group of kids out on the fields just kicking the ball around for fun.

So how does that translate into support for the US team? Because in a very small way, we’re a part of US Soccer. Every parent who coaches, every kid who plays, is helping build the next generation of US soccer players. The focus of the USSF is clearly how to improve US Soccer and they know it starts with our youth. They have managed to get thousands of leagues to adopt small sided play. The latest coaching education curriculum stresses first and foremost player development. Don’t coach to win, coach to develop so some of your players can go to the next level, and a few the next, etc. Youth soccer has been a fixture in the US for years, but change is afoot and being part of an overall effort to improve US soccer, even a microscopic part, makes you want to see the US succeed. No, youth soccer in America is not perfect and there are big issues to be addressed, but there is change afoot.

I love soccer and am an American, so I naturally want our team to succeed, but being involved in even a very remote way in the future success of soccer in the US makes it even more exciting. That’s why I’ll be screaming at the TV in a few hours.

Steve Gilliard posted his reasons this morning:

Despite all the talk about club soccer expenses, and who plays soccer, the US team is a great representation of America. Immigrants, suburban kids, black, white. It’s an American team which looks like America. SI did a story last year on DaMarcus Beasley and how he came from a working class single parent home to soccer at a time when black kids didn’t play the game. It also did an all black starting 11,which goes against the image of the sport being suburban and white.

It isn’t. It’s integrated with players from all kinds of backgrounds who have one thing in common: being American soccer players.

This is a team Americans can root for without hesitation. No one living on a famous name, no one with big contracts, a team which is ours. We don’t have to adopt another side to be included. Americans play, Americans can win. I’m going with Sam’s Army today, because I am an American and I want to support our boys in the World Cup.

Many people faulted Nike for talking about ‘this AMERICAN game‘ like we were trying to claim soccer as our own or something. That’s not it at all. Soccer in the US is unique in good ways and bad, but the good ways outweigh the bad in my opinion. The USMNT is an American team – a melting pot just like America itself.

So what’s your story? Why will you be joining the other folks from Sam’s Army in your area for a viewing party?

Here are more folks excited about US Soccer…