The United States did the unthinkable Tuesday night in Trinidad and Tobago, they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. From the very beginning, the trip to the small Caribbean nation had upset written all over it. The USMNT were coming off a massive victory over Panama last Friday, yet instead of celebration, a heavy amount of tension followed the squad down south.
The task was very simple, beat Trinidad and Tobago (population 1.3 million) and the Yanks party with Trump’s BFF (Putin) next summer. Unfortunately, the squad that stepped foot on the soggy field that night played fearful and let down an entire generation of American youth soccer enthusiast.
How did this happen?
In my opinion, it all started with the victory over Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup; this win was the first taste “Merica” had of the Kool-Aid. It gave us a false sense of hope on where we stood amongst the world’s elite.
I admit, there wasn’t a bigger fan in El Paso that supported the stars and stripes more than me. Constantly, I defended the team’s rank as CONCACAF’s best national team and how they surpassed their bitter rival, Mexico.
- 2010 World Cup gave us the miracle finish against Algeria
- 2013 Gold Cup Championship run was practically flawless
- 2014 World Cup USA survived the group of death
- 2017 Bruce Arena leads USA to their 6th Gold Cup title
Those were all great accomplishments, right? Not exactly, those are just the few talking points we would rattle off to make a case. The reality is that the United States had no business playing Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup; Brazil flexed their muscles in group B as they demolished Italy which allowed the U.S. to advance into the semifinal match against the Spaniards.
The signs of a bad USMNT were all there, but for some reason we didn’t see it or we chose to ignore it.
- 2009 Gold Cup Final loss to Mexico 5-0
- 2010 World Cup draw to Slovenia
- 2010 World Cup loss to Ghana
- 2011 Gold Cup Final loss to Mexico 4-2
- 2015 Gold Cup 4th place finish after losing to Jamaica
What happened to our next star?
Freddy Adu: 14-year-old phenom. Now 28 and currently unemployed
Juan Agudelo: 17-year-old star who scored a game winning goal against South Africa. Now 24 and a role player for the New England Revolution.
Brek Shea: Former Stoke City midfielder and FC Dallas all-star. Now sporadic player for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Julian Green: The 18-year-old kid who stole Donovan’s World Cup roster spot. Now second division German league journeyman.
Besides Christian Pulisic the USMNT have no young blood that give fans faith of a brighter future. Instead, they have relied on their old-timers (Dempsey, Bradley, Howard and Beasley) to pick up the slack. Which makes perfect sense, USA have not qualified for an Olympics since 2008 – a gap that certainly shows lack youth development.
Who do the fans blame?
Honestly, you blame the fans of the United States of America and how they think they are entitled to all the luxuries of the world. We brag about how much money we have, the population of our country and endless amount of athletic resources.
All that doesn’t mean a darn thing when nobody watches the product. As an avid sports fan I can tell you who won the championship in the three major sports for the last 10 years, but I can’t name who competed in last year’s MLS Final.
It’s all fine and dandy to say we are growing the sport here in America, because we have the Premier League on NBC, Bundesliga on FOX and Champions League on ESPN. However, America’s sports heroes continue to be from the MLB, NBA and NFL.
So, before we blame Jurgen Klinsmann, Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley. We, as soccer aficionados must look ourselves in the mirror and acknowledge that the USMNT isn’t as good as we thought, because we never embraced the sport to begin with.
As the world plays the beautiful game year-round, we just pretend to be interested once every four years. It’s the only format we know.