At the US-Honduras World Cub qualifying match Saturday night at Soldier Field it's very possible the majority of fans -- or perhaps the more vocally vociferous fan base -- will not be waving stars and stripes or clad in red, white and blue.
This is nothing new for the players. And it's not a knock against soccer fans in Chicago.
It's just the way it is:
It makes sense. If I found myself in Honduras I'd fight the harshest Tegucigalpa traffic jam to support my countrymen. If only there were more local fans here willing to brave the Eisenhower and the Kennedy Saturday night.
Because the United States needs the support of Chicago's soccer fans now more than ever. It's coming off an absolutely abysmal performance in which it gave up first place in the Concacaf Hexagonal final qualifying round of the World Cup to Costa Rica 3-1. In recent years the United States has dominated this region.
It's one of sports' great mysteries -- in a country with unlimited resources to cultivate our athletes; in a country that has produced countless world-class competitors and immortal teams in a variety of sports; why have we not licked this soccer thing?
OK, maybe it's not such a big mystery. Perhaps it simply comes down to dollars. Even though soccer remains among the most popular sports for kids to play in this country, they inevitably tend to stray, opting to focus their efforts on this country's more marketable sports, like baseball, basketball and football.
Peyton Manning was last year's NFL most valuable player. LeBron James won the award in the NBA.
Meanwhile, Guillermo Barros Schelotto was the 2008 Major League Soccer MVP.
I don't know the details of Schelotto's contract with the Columbus Crew, but I'd take LeBron's, Peyton's.
The point is, until this country has a true soccer superstar who leads the team to victory, the majority of athletic kids won't grow up dreaming of playing for the US National Team.
I was 13 years old when Mike Fisher (at right) was becoming the national high school soccer player of the year in my home town of Batavia. For me, his story is the most telling example of soccer's cultural value in this country.
When Fisher was snagging headlines in national publications, it seemed like every kid my age was schlepping up and down the soccer field on the weekends. My parents carted me all over Northern Illinois -- from Palos Heights to Rockford -- to kick a soccer ball. For all those miles they tacked on to the old Acura, they have Mike Fisher to thank.
In 1992 Fisher led Batavia to a third place finish at state. He went on to star at the University of Virginia, where he was named the 1995 college player of the year. He was an alternate on the 1996 Olympic team, chosen second overall in the 1997 MLS draft.
Instead of signing a professional soccer contract, he opted instead for medical school.
Granted, it's a noble profession -- and an elite venture that requires talent and dedication tantamount to that of playing a professional sport.
With the exception of Florida State safety Myron Rolle -- the Rhodes scholar who may still one day play in the NFL -- have you ever heard of a sport's great prospect simply tapping out?
It's possible that under different circumstances Fisher, now 34, would have been playing on Soldier Field this weekend just 40 miles from his hometown rather than working at a hospital somewhere in North Carolina. But at age 22, he saw greater earning potential in scrubs than shin guards, and I imagine he's not regretting the decision.
The earning potential thing will probably never change in America, but we can do something about the fact that the US Men's National Soccer Team has to play an away game just a few blocks from its Chicago headquarters.