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Opinion: The golden age of soccer comes to an end

Dec 13, 2022

The golden age of soccer is slowly coming to an end. Greats like Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, and Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior have all announced that this will be their final World Cup.

Over their careers, the three have accounted for over 2,000 combined goals, with Ronaldo being the highest goal-scorer of all time. 

These three have always been an inspiration to me and it’s going to be sad to see them go. Even people who don’t watch soccer can still recall their names. 

But with all the excitement over Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar, one other player has begun to stand out above the rest. Kylian Mbappé has been the leading goal scorer during this year’s World Cup tallying five goals which is two more than the next closest player.

With his five goals this year, he passed Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or “Pelé,” one of the greatest players of all time, for most goals scored by a player in the World Cup under the age of 24. 

Mbappé, who plays for the French national team, won the last World Cup back in 2018 scoring four goals overall which tied him for most on the team. He has also won “Man of the Match,” an award for the best player in every match of the tournament, in every game he’s played this World Cup. And he deserved it every time. 

Mbappé has become such a well-known soccer player due to his elusive skills, creative playmaking, speed, and ability to finish. Mbappé’s natural scoring capability makes him one of, if not, the most electrifying players in the world. 

If we’re being honest, the greats are getting old, and their time playing professional soccer will soon end. Even Ronaldo looks like a grandpa out there when he’s playing.

Ronaldo doesn’t really do much to help his team anymore, and most of his goals come from penalty kicks. Portugal’s best game this tournament even came with Ronaldo coming off the bench with his replacement, Goncalo Ramos, netting a hat trick in his first World Cup appearance. 

This isn’t to say Ronaldo isn’t a good soccer player – he’s just not the same player he used to be. 

Along with Mbappe, young superstars Cody Gakpo (Netherlands), Erling Halland (Norway), Alphonso Davies (Canada), and Christian Pulisic (USA) have all caught my eye. 

Gakpo is a naturally gifted athlete with immense skill, Haaland has a rocket for a leg, Davies has tremendous speed, and Pulisic, otherwise known as “Captain America,” is an incredible playmaker. 

It’s possible that this young generation of stars, especially Pulisic, could single-handedly get Americans more invested in soccer because of their ability to captivate audiences with the breath of fresh air they give to the game.  

Soccer may not be the biggest sport in the United States, but across the globe, football is by far the most popular sport. The World Cup tallied a total of 3.572 billion viewers in 2018 according to NewsOnAir. 

In addition to the US being in the World Cup this year, we are one of the hosts of the World Cup in 2026. I have no doubt that people are going to start paying more attention to our USMNT and USWNT. 

There are a lot of young players rising to stardom across the world, and it will be thrilling to see where all these players’ careers take them. 


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