“Soccer’s coming home,” they sing, to the tune of the Skinner and Baddiel classic.
It is a chant of choice for American fans ahead of the World Cup showdown, mocking their English opponents.
We heard it from the crowd watching the University of Maryland take on Fairleigh Dickinson University.
The gag is, of course, the replacement of the word ‘football’ with ‘soccer’ – for British listeners, it’s a lyric that could only have been written with a fingernail on a blackboard.
As far as fan liquidations go, that’s on the benign end of the scale, a far cry from the terraced attrition in the country where the game started. Some cultural traditions, it seems, take longer to transfer.
American football is football, but not quite as we know it in the UK, certainly not as we speak it.
This is where players “turn and burn”, wear “cleats” on their feet, not boots; take “PKs”, not penalties and, yes, take liberties with the very name of the game.
From fall guys to suitors
Either way, the USA men’s team has come a long way. They are fall contenders in a sport that America was late to discover.
As the game grew around the world, it struggled to gain space in a crowded sports market crowded out by American football, baseball, basketball and others.
America’s men’s soccer players have long been overshadowed by the country’s women’s team. They are a sporting superpower and serial World Cup winners (a record four times).
Women’s soccer benefited from a college system that attracted many of the nation’s top female athletes to soccer scholarships, while their male counterparts gravitated toward more traditional American sports.
The FC Dallas American Football Hall of Fame hosts an exhibit that recalls the 1950 World Cup match when the American men beat England 1-0.
It was such a shock that they made a movie out of it: The Miracle Match. Seventy-two years later, an American victory against England in Qatar would not be miraculous.
Who is predicted to win the World Cup?
Men’s football has ‘taken off’
After a stilted journey to an established football setup, the United States men’s team is ranked 16th in the world.
FC Dallas Chairman and Chairman Dan Hunt spoke to Sky News about the growth of men’s football domestically.
He said: “The success of American football really dates back to 1994. Having the World Cup here in the United States launched a new generation of players on the men’s side.
“The women’s game was already successful and going well, but the excitement and energy it generated has really revived football in this country.
“It’s been a story of crises, starts and stops. You look at the big win against England in 1950, which was such a benchmark, and then we went dark for 40 years, between 1950 and 1990.
“The old NASL (North America Soccer League) has come and gone. The promise we had to make as a country was to create a top division professional league, and that’s what gave life to MLS (Major League Soccer).
“The early years of MLS were incredibly difficult but, for me, the most crucial moment was the 2002 World Cup where the American team did very well with a number of MLS players.
“Some had already gone overseas and had success in Europe, but that was really the basis because only a year earlier MLS had talked about going bankrupt and that was the little push we needed. .
“Since then, MLS has really taken off.”
USA and Wales share points in World Cup opener
While the football club academies in America have increasingly become a source of nourishment for the top level of the sport, the university system still provides a pathway to professional play.
The University of Maryland is a talent-producing powerhouse – graduates of its scholarship program have appeared at the last five World Cups.
Sasho Cirovski is the college coach, whose career spans decades of growth in American football.
He told Sky News: “The American university system is unique in the world. It’s the only place in the world where you can combine top academics with top football in a residential setting with huge facilities. .
“You’re ready to deal with being away from home, you’re ready to deal with performance expectations.
“You’re scrutinized by the media, you’re challenged by coaches and you’re surrounded by players who also want to be top pros and win championships. So when you have that kind of support network where you can grow, and you can grow, it allows players to achieve their dreams.
“We have the great advantage in this country of being able to watch, experience and learn from other sports. There is a character and a competitiveness in the American athlete – a winning mentality, a tenacity that is reproduced in different sports.
“For a long time we had to learn by watching the Bundesliga or the English Premier League – now we can see it in our own country. But we can also see it in other sports, so there’s a wide range of learning around you that really shows you what it takes to be great.”