Watch: U.S. Soccer's (way too serious) World Cup qualifying promo

So melodramatic and cliche-ridden you're hoping it's Saturday Night Live satire, U.S. Soccer's “Countdown to World Cup Qualifying” promo "Only Forward" forces U.S. players to take ridiculously serious poses while the narration includes such gems as "you have to kill your egos before you can kill giants."

That's from Clint Dempsey, who appears briefly on camera wearing a camouflage suit, as if the bellicose script wasn't enough. Whoever came up with "physically unforgiving" gets the doublespeak prize of the month. Who knows why Dempsey thinks the USA is "one nation under the radar." But more puzzling is why one would take such a joyless, humorless approach to promoting a sporting event.

U.S. Soccer has been producing a good number of well-crafted, entertaining videos that must surely strengthen the fans' bond to its national teams. Those videos -- which come in various forms such as Behind the Crest, Know Your USMNT Teammate, Inside the Lines -- work because they capture the players being natural. That almost always shines a light on their likability, often conveys their sense of humor, and one comes away feeling that they like or love playing soccer.

The "Only Forward" promo makes soccer look like an angry undertaking played by guys who have, as Dempsey puts it, a "chip on their shoulder." The only part of its two minutes that conveys the joy of soccer come from game highlights.

Showing real soccer with good footage and players being themselves is all that's necessary to promote the game.

13 comments about "Watch: U.S. Soccer's (way too serious) World Cup qualifying promo".
  1. Santiago 1314, August 28, 2021 at 1:06 a.m.

    Of Course Santiago LOVES This.!!!... Somebody at USSF has read: "What Happened to The USMNT" and is Taking it Seriously.!!!... Many of you have "Poo-Pooed" the Analysis in the Book, But it is "Spot On" and so is This Video...If these Players have Really Bought Into "The Spirit of '76" we might just have a Chance to Win a World Cup,  in the next 9years... USA, USA, USA.!!!...(God, did I need this after this Horrible week for USA... God Bless and Protect our Soldiers... My Son is Not THERE, but he ain't HERE either)

  2. Derek Mccracken, August 28, 2021 at 8:21 a.m.

    I'm sorry, after reading Mike Woitalla's review, before even watching it, I wanted to dislike it . . . I wanted to hate it, cause his review was so negative. But, you know what? I couldn't. It was as if Mike and I watched 2 different videos. That was one of the most exciting adverts for the USMNT I've ever watched. It gave me shivers and goosebumps! It made me want to run through walls for the USMNT! It was a GREAT video!

    Loved the gritty, no-holds-barred message! Mike points to other USMNT videos such as the "Know Your Teammate" and "Behind The Crest" campaigns, but those serve completely different purposes . . . Those are meant to educate one of the players and the team. This ad ONLY aims to get one so psyched-up that they're willing to support the team anyway possible, whether at the stadiums, at pubs, or watching the matches at home.

    And to have Clint "Deuce" Dempsey narrarate the commercial, spitting verses as smooth as ice, one of their own and one of the finest to ever wear the USMNT kit, was brilliant.

    I feel Mike's review really missed the mark, and as one can already see the "likes" versus "dislikes" on the YT video (400 likes, 5 dislikes, thus far), most would disagree with his extremely negative assessment of this video.

  3. Derek Mccracken, August 28, 2021 at 9:13 a.m.

    Oh, forgot to answer Mike's question, "Who knows why Dempsey thinks the USA is 'one nation under the radar?' " Seriously? Probably many that are hardcore USMNT fans know . . . Except for Mike, I guess. The USMNT has bounced between catastrophic (U23 qualifiers the past several cycles) poor ('98 WC) to good ('02 WC) to mostly mediocre (all other senior WC's that, at best, got them to the 2nd round) the past couple of decades. We now have very young players playing, and many times starting, at some of the best club teams in the world (Barca, Juventus, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Man City, Dortmund, Hamburg, Lille, Marseille, Wolfsburg, etc.). Almost no one outside of the USA realizes the collection of very young talent we've amassed, and, in fact, most within the USA, even many U.S. soccer fans, don't realize the scale of the deepest collection of young hungry, impact players the USA has ever had in its player pool.  

    For a reporter of all things U.S. Soccer to ask, ""Who knows why Dempsey thinks the USA is 'one nation under the radar?' " boggles the mind because the USMNT, despite winning a couple of regional tourneys this summer, is certainly flying under the radar from a global perspective. These upcoming WCQ's and, more importantly, next year's WC, will hopefully help to push the USMNT out from behind the radar and propel it to never-before seen heights in '26 when the WC is played in North America

  4. Santiago 1314 replied, August 28, 2021 at 11:15 p.m.

    Correct you are PHIL.!!!

  5. Wooden Ships, August 28, 2021 at 9:28 a.m.

    Joyless, cliche ridden, melodramatic and humorless, sounds like signs of the time in one of our parties. I liked the video, but then I've never been a rah-rah guy, as I've always had very competitive, intense personality. The video isn't for the team per say as much as for the market place. Mike, are you really offended by Deuce in a camo suit? Physically unforgiving, I interpret to mean, not getting pushed around. Which, happened last cycle. 


    Santi, Hooah for wherever your son is. 

  6. Santiago 1314 replied, August 28, 2021 at 11:18 p.m.

    Thanks, Prayers for All our Soldiers... Saw that 2 of the Soldiers Killed were Women... Crickets from Members of US Womens Team... That's true Equal Pay, and Death.!!!

  7. Seth Vieux, August 28, 2021 at 10:24 a.m.

    Uhhhhh, yeah that was awesome. I cannot imagine what would prompt Mike to crap on this promo privately, let alone take time to crap on it professionally. Go kick rocks man.

    This is going to be played for my kids today, LOVED IT.


  8. Valerie Metzler, August 28, 2021 at 3:50 p.m.

    I liked it.

  9. Matthew Shaddock, August 28, 2021 at 6:08 p.m.

    Also liked it. Strange article to be so negative about something. 

  10. Bob Ashpole, August 29, 2021 at 2:44 a.m.

    PR for the fans is not motivation for the players. Two entirely different topics. I suspect most people here are conflating the two. 

    Whether the clip is a success depends on the fan reaction to it as fans are the target audiance, not players. 

    Myself, I would much prefer clips that has some educational value for the fans and especially extolling good technical and tactical play--not reinforcing the US fans already huge hunger for physical play and lots of "effort". That isn't going to happen though because USSF continues to value physical effort over quality play. We will never raise our game if we only rely on grit. The sad thing is that we do have some skilled players.

  11. uffe gustafsson, August 29, 2021 at 8:23 p.m.

    Wish they would have incl the singing chant from the women's WC in Le Havre USA vs Sweden 
    one side of the stadium fans sang USA and then the other side answered back singing USA it was beautiful as riveting.
    best moment I ever seen and heard.
    those fans are the best. No rah rah just love.

  12. John Polis, August 29, 2021 at 9:35 p.m.

    Agree with Mike on this. Overly dramatic, overdone, and after the last qualifying for 2018, misplaced anger. Qualifying is a new season. Our young team, while promising, has done nothing that justifies any of the inflated pre-qualifying swagger shown in a promo video. 

  13. Philip Carragher replied, August 30, 2021 at 10:08 a.m.

    Santi, I'm not sure if you were inviting me into this, so here I am. I replied last night but don't see the response here so I'll go again. I want us to qualify for Qatar, and if that means we need to access the good 'ole U.S. shock and awe in order to do so, I'm in. My hesitation is that by using this approach and succeeding folks will argue that all is well with our player development system and that's not true. We are seeing a player here and a player there able to compete and even impact international-grade games, but there should be many more U.S. players at this level after all the time we've had to make this so. The video reminds me of an Atlanta pro hockey advertisement I saw back around 1977 that featured mostly fighting. Where was the hockey? This video speaks an "underdog" message, fight to win, don't back down, but again, where is the soccer? I hope we qualify and I hope the national team proves my assessment wrong by playing fluid, artistic soccer, soccer that's attractive to watch.

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