c/o TikTok

c/o TikTok

After four hard-fought games, the U.S. men’s national soccer team was knocked out of the 2022 International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) World Cup, losing to the Netherlands 3–1. Despite this, many online consider this World Cup to have been a victory by at least one measure: we didn’t lose to England.

Little can get the vitriolic patriotism of the U.S. population revved up like anti-British sentiment. Something about battling the old mother country gets Americans across the board riled up for mockery and ridicule. This was exemplified by a storm of pro-America tweets and TikToks in the aftermath of our match with England.

“England, what happened?!” TikTok user @dangercant screamed, draped in an American flag. “How are you gonna lose to the United States at the World Cup?!”

While the US did not, in fact, defeat England, eking out a scoreless draw against them on Friday, Nov. 25, the sentiment of loss was there on both sides of the pond. A TikTok posted by user @thechampagne_socialist, from a much calmer British perspective, pointed out the effect this game had on them as a fan.

“If you’re not English, I don’t think you understand how bad that draw was with the U.S.,” @thechampagne_socialist said. “We drew, but it feels like a loss.”

In another TikTok, user @bucketjosh pointed out the sudden jump in interest that came out of American fans for the England game.

“Team USA thinking they won’t have a lot of viewers during the World Cup,” the captions read. “[Versus] USA [motherfuckers] who have never seen a game of soccer in their life getting together to watch the game against England.”

Even better, Google trends notes that the search term “It’s called Soccer”—a common phrase repeated by gloating American fans—skyrocketed to an all-time high in November of 2022. The fan base was riled, excited, and angry, despite Team U.S.A. only winning one of its four games and losing rather dramatically to the Netherlands.

This is part of a larger trend. One tweet, putting it in perspective, noted that, despite priding themselves on their soccer prowess, England still tied a nation that frankly does not care about the sport.

“This SOCCER tie is so embarrassing for England,” Twitter user @CrypticNoHoes wrote. “Imagine if England came and played American Football vs the USA and we tied that game. Levels to this.”

At the core of this rather hilarious trend is an interesting paradigm in American sports: if we don’t lose to a team that cares a lot more about a particular sport than us, we’ve won. It’d be embarrassing if England tied us in American football because we care so much more about it than them. But because we had a draw with the nation that invented soccer, we see it as a win. The fact that it’s against our stuck up parents across the pond is even better. Never doubt the ability of the United States to believe we won simply because we didn’t fall to England. From the War of 1812 to the World Cup, as long as we don’t lose, we win.

Sam Hilton can be reached at shilton@wesleyan.edu

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