The Future of US Soccer
For the first time since 1986, the United States Men’s National Team will not qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The U.S lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago in one of the most embarrassing moments in the team’s history. The news exploded into every news network and social media outlet known to man to become the No.1 worldwide trending topic. Outbursts from fans, especially from analysts went viral with messages to the team saying they should be embarrassed and that their team was not properly prepared to go to Russia in the first place.
Head Coach Bruce Arena defended his team’s performance in a press conference following the game. His defense was to take the teams in Europe and have them compete in the CONCAFF conference the United States must go through to qualify. He promised they would not see the same success they have in Europe, and stressed they could possibly not qualify. Arena’s defense was met with blank stares and outcry for him to be fired immediately. His resignation soon followed.
What would follow now, is an exodus of the USMNT. With Arena gone, his coaching staff surely would follow. From their scouting, the front office, to even the director of the program could see an exit whether voluntarily or forcibly. What follows next is unstoppable. Players get old, and most of the national team’s longtime players are approaching the retirement phase. Some of the names include Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, and Graham Zusi. With the next World Cup in 2020 in Qatar, there’s no chance these players along with select more have the physical capability to compete with the world’s elite.
The youth in the team is promising. Christian Pulisic, 19, is the star of the team. He’s become a household name among soccer fans stateside. Ironically, his fame started internationally in Europe. Pulisic plays for top German club Borussia Dortmund. Playing as an attacking and midfield winger he plays an important to squad rotation role. His performances in Europe led to his inclusion in the USMNT. His pace, scoring, skills, and humbleness have captured U.S fans. He’s being hailed as one of the best if not the best player on the U.S roster. He doesn’t draw much criticism, only more that he needs a stronger supporting cast to truly maximize his talent. He’s dedicated to the team, showing his ability to lead and be counted for on and off the pitch. He will be the leader of the team in the next World Cup.
There are other promising players. Ethan Horvath, DeAndre Yedlin, Matt Miazga, Kellyn Acosta, Julian Green, and Rubio Rubin are some of the future stars of the USMNT. Where their heads are at in terms of dedication, training, and even loyalty is part of the equation with the future of the national team. There’s one particular player of example that has gained some noticed. Jordan Morris is another promising player for the U.S who currently plays for the Seattle Sounders in Major League Soccer. He’s enjoyed hype from fans of his ability, but there’s an issue of his commitment to the program. Longtime USMNT player Jermaine Jones cited on video a conversation he had with Morris. Morris described his desire to remain in Seattle with his girlfriend and the dog his mother got for him rather than train. He was more concerned of leaving the dog and his girlfriend behind for too long. The comment confused analaysts and fans alike and it’s an indication that even one showing of lack of focus among the younger players can spread to the others by influence.
In the present, the USMNT hopes of regaining stronger form look bleak. Many are seeing this failure as a sign of defeat of the team and it could regress to a team even more inferior in 2022’s World Cup. However, there could be progress made from this, but that progress must start in better decision-making. A proper head coach must be hired. Reports came about that English manager Sam Allerdyce has interest in the job. However, the scandal with the England National Team a few years ago left him disgraced. And after a bad stint with Crystal Palace, despite helping them avoid relegation, Allerdyce isn’t the manager through image or quality that can get the U.S into the World Cup. Stronger considerations can be made for Louis Van Gaal who recently managed Manchester United a few years ago. He had success with clubs like FC Barcelona and Ajax, and managed the Netherlands National Team. If they can find the manager to rally the younger players to better form and stronger dominance in the team, the U.S can make great strides leading up to the 2022 World Cup. There’s also the matter of rotating out the longtime USMNT players who are in the team because of name and not ability. If there are younger to even more talented players in the roster regardless of age, they need to play. The U.S must prepare to build their future teams on ability and not keeping the brand and team popular among the nation’s buzz of sports.
The United States doesn’t carry the passion for soccer as the other countries in the world do. Those who find stardom in MLS are consistently players from Europe who come to the U.S leagues to salvage careers, finances, or for whatever glory they desire. American stardom in soccer is pathetic at best. With the United States not able to go to the World Cup, a five-year wait will be an eternity for the program. Many young players try to go overseas, as it is very difficult to break into the world of football through the pains of the USMNT. Soccer alone in its popularity in the U.S makes the appeal for stardom as a soccer player less than appealing than to an NFL or NBA playing career. It is up to the new powers that could be within the U.S program to bring in the enthusiastic young players, leave the stars at home and build a squad they and the nation can be proud of.
The United States Women’s National Team has a better track record than the men. Their team has outperformed the USMNT for the past few years nearly winning the Women’s FIFA World Cup back in 2015 against Japan. They’ve faced adversity among their own with unequal pay and disrespect from the Board of Directors and the USMNT. Even with notable players such as goalkeeper Hope Solo recently retired attacker Abby Wambach having off the field issues, the amount of work they put in gave results and continues to bring results to the USWNT record.
Missing the World Cup in 2022 is unacceptable for the USMNT, let’s just hope the team itself agrees.
To continue the discussion, follow Dillon on Twitter @thedavistirado and tune into MFST for all of your soccer coverage.
Hailing from New York City from the borough of Brooklyn, Dillon is a die-hard New York sports fan. He currently resides in Upstate New York, where he studies at Wells College in Aurora, NY.
Follow him on Twitter @thedavistirado and the other MFST writers.
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