We can debate that ranking or the criteria to assess a country's "football movement," but it is hard to argue about the need, as Infantino suggests, for American soccer to take stock of where it's at.
MLS has advanced considerably, growing from 10 to 23 teams and operating an additional 10 teams in the USL and four women's teams in the NWSL, and ranks among the top 10 leagues in the world in attendance. But despite MLS's runaway success in Atlanta or the support in Seattle for the last decade or steady sellouts in places like Portland and Kansas City, there should be serious concern about how some other teams appear to be losing steam in their markets.
All the attention on how Anthony Precourt has engineered to move the Crew to Austin shouldn't take away from the fact that attendance has waned in Columbus, and it isn't the only market.
Though no one has made it work in the U.S. pro market, the topic of promotion and relegation won't go away. At the very least, the movement of "independent" teams continues to grow.
Should MLS be worried? The problem is, no other pro league has ever thrived with such continuous and vocal opposition from segments of what should be its fanbase. If you're not convinced about the anti-MLS sentiment, spend a day on Twitter and read the venom.
However it happens, the "football movement in general," as Infantino called it, must extend outside MLS markets into every corner of the country. Soccer got such a late start it never grabbed a foothold in high school and college communities like football and basketball, in particular, did. Those powerful connections to their pro games simply don't yet exist in American soccer. Some way, some how, they miss take hold.
Everything is relative, though.
The late Ron Newman played or coached in five failed leagues -- NPSL, NASL, ASL, MISL and CISL -- before coming on board to coach the Kansas City Wizards for the launch of MLS, which survives 22 years later. There was no "football movement" in the late 1960s when Newman arrived from England, which makes his work and that of the other pioneers of the late 1960s and 1970s so important.
In Soccer America executive editor Mike Woitalla's tribute to Newman, Clive Toye, another of the pioneers, says if they had any sense at all, they would not have come because it was such a helpless task.
"Ron had no reluctance to tell people about soccer, whether on a Main Street sidewalk or in a field," Toye said. "Wherever he was, whatever he was doing, he was trying make people aware of soccer, make people aware of what the game was about, and how they could get involved.”
Awareness is not the problem today it was then -- which explains Infantino's interest in American soccer. The U.S. market is a big money-maker for FIFA. World Cup media rights go for hundreds of millions of dollars. That wasn't always the case.
Toye reminded me of that on Tuesday night, emailing after reading our story on the visit by Infantino and Cordeiro to the Oval Office.
Visitors have been going to the White House to promote soccer for decades -- the first visit I can recall is when Pele met Richard Nixon in 1973 -- but they have long since moved past kicking a soccer ball or trying to explain what the World Cup is. What was most remarkable about Tuesday's reception was how aware Trump was about the World Cup. (It helps that his son, Barron, is a big-time fan.)
That was a bit of a change, noted Toye, from how it used to be. "When Phil Woosnam and I bought the 1970 World Cup TV rights," he wrote, "we could not find one TV channel willing to show games -- even for nothing!"
Yes, everything is relative.