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The Lessons from USA’s Failure to Qualify for the World Cup

ostatnia aktualizacja 10-13-2017, 06:11

The match against Trinidad and Tobago was supposed to be a formality for the United States men’s national team to qualify for the World Cup next summer. The US needed to lose, and several other results to happen to lose any chance to qualify for the prestigious tournament. Yet, these possible outcomes all occurred, which subsequently dropped the USMNT outside of competing all together. The extremely poor performance and result came only after the team’s dominating win over Panama only several days prior. Ultimately, there was plenty of blow back and reflection done on what went wrong in that horrible performance.

The Lessons from USA’s Failure to Qualify for the World Cup

1. Bruce Arena’s Tenability
Bruce Arena had one job – to keep the engines rolling for the United States men’s national team. This obviously included getting the team to the World Cup. Arguably only having Mexico and Costa Rica as higher quality sides, there was still plenty of room for the United States to still achieve a comfortable berth to the final competition. Arena’s decision to play the same tactics between Panama and Trinidad and Tobago smacks of arrogance and lack of thoroughness on his part. Playing a side that was extremely attack focused and lacking balance would always run the risk of the United States to be overrun on any sort of turnover. As everyone saw, the United States was extremely dull, save for Pulisic’s solitary goal.

2. Retire Current Players
Plenty of players will be forced to retire from the international team simply due to old age. Tim Howard, a long-time stalwart as a goalkeeper for the national team is 38, and therefore will naturally be phased out by the next competitive match. Other players like Clint Dempsey, one of the most skilled players of his generation will also likely leave. Plenty of players alongside them, such as Beasley, Zusi, and Bradley will also be looked to be moved on. It’s a tragic and disappointing ending to careers marked with consistency of making it to the final competition. It’s also a far cry from the heroic performance that the United States put up against Belgium in the Round of 16 in Brazil 2014. It is now the time for Christian Pulisic and DeAndre Yedlin and others to write their own stories, independent of the old guard.

3. Recovering the Lost Interest
It is no secret that soccer takes a back seat to other major sports such as baseball, basketball, and football in the American home. The World Cup has been the most helpful cause for the growth, as it demonstrates the best of what the U.S. can offer against the other elite teams of the world. The World Cup is the most prestigious competition in the world, and that alone puts many Americans in front of the television to root on for their country. A player like Pulisic can show the United States about how talented the national team could be. Now, without the World Cup, there won’t be that massive pull for the general population. For now, MLS and international competitions like the ICC will be needed to get more interest. Highlighting players playing club football abroad (like Pulisic) can also generate more interest. Still, it would be extremely difficult to replicate any sort of interest from a potential World Cup berth.

Overall, the loss of the World Cup signals the ending of an old era, but could also open new opportunities for the USMNT to improve in the long term. It’s been a terrible qualifying tournament and can be a huge reset to the national team. But young and promising players are currently coming through in their late teens and lower 20s. There is an opportunity, but like how the United States failed throughout this campaign, it can be squandered here as well.

michael skok sport editor poland.usMichael Skok
Football Editor for
Polish-American Portal
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