HERRIMAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The 2018 World Cup is underway, and while the United States is not playing, the players and coaches on Real Salt Lake are still excited to watch as many games as they can.
“Yeah, I’m taping every game,” said defender Brooks Lennon. “I’m watching every single game, and I’m taking Portugal.”
“Oh, Argentina for sure,” added midfielder Danny Acosta. “I got Argentina all the way.”
“I’m going for Brazil,” added defender Justen Glad. “Yeah, I want Brazil to win.”
“My roots from generations ago are from Germany,” said head coach Mike Petke. “So, perhaps I jump on Germany.”
With the U.S. failing to qualify for the first time since 1986, will that temper the interest around the country?
“Perhaps a tiny bit,” Petke said. “I don’t know, maybe the casual fan would have tuned for the U.S. maybe. But otherwise, I don’t think so at all.”
“Even though the United States is not in it, they are like the number one fans going to the World Cup, I believe,” said Acosta. “So, just going there even though we’re not in it, just try to enjoy it as much as possible.”
“It’s hard to watch the World Cup and not see and not cheer for the U.S. in it,” Lennon said. “But in four years time, I’m confident that we’re going to qualify.”
As for the big announcement yesterday that the 2026 World Cup will be played in North America, some of the young RSL stars like Lennon, Acosta and Justen Glad, who have played on the U-20 team, are already dreaming about playing in the World Cup on their home turf.
“Definitely, that was the first thing I thought about when I found out it in America,” Lennon said. “My dream is to play in a World Cup since I started playing soccer. That’s the ultimate goal and dream of any soccer player. Hopefully I can be there in four years, and obviously in eight years that would be special.”
“I think we’re all kind of looking at it at teeing it up for the future,” said Glad. “We’re just hoping we can all get on that roster, and be able to play in front of our friends and family on home soil.”
“It’s huge with the success that we had in ’94,” added Petke. “Not only at the World Cup, but based on the World Cup with Major League Soccer forming based on the backbone of that.”
Real Salt Lake returns to MLS action June 23rd at home against San Jose.