The United States Men’s National Team lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago last night in Couva, Trinidad and have failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
This result is an absolute shock, all the USMNT had to do was get a draw in Trinidad after beating Panama 4-0 last Friday, but it never should’ve gotten to this point.
There are many people to blame, Jurgen Klinsmann, Bruce Arena, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, Omar Gonzalez, and the President of United States Soccer Federation Sunil Gulati, but ultimately this is a damning stain on a team that has vied to be considered elite for years.
The USMNT is nowhere near the top echelon of the soccer world, as it so desperately wants to be. In reality, the entire program from top to bottom is deeply flawed.
Former USMNT striker Taylor Twellman went on a full blown rant after the result last night, calling out the US Soccer Federation. As Twellman pointed out, there are no excuses for this result and questions should’ve been asked years ago about the state of the national team,
“The gloves should have been off years ago. We should have been having real criticism. And the discussion after Brazil, Max, was, ‘Can we beat the Colombias and the Belgiums and the Argentinas of the world?’ You kidding me? We can’t beat Trinidad on a field that’s too wet and too heavy? What are we doing? What are we doing?”
Here's the full Taylor Twellman rant: pic.twitter.com/3YOAQrTKmY
— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) October 11, 2017
Twellman hits the nail on the head. With the billions of dollars being poured in to developmental programs and the MLS, how does a team of the supposed stature of the United States lose to Trinidad and Tobago?
Christian Pulisic, a 19-year-old, was the only player that put in a composed and decent performance last night.
As Twellman pointed out, this team has failed to qualify for the Olympics two straight times, there is a stunning lack of quality talent in the 25-28 age group, usually the peak of a soccer player’s career. Instead, the starting 11 from yesterday reveals a roster led by a 19-year-old and a rag-tag group of veterans way past their prime.
The United States has been eliminated from World Cup 2018. The most surreal and embarrassing night in US soccer history.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) October 11, 2017
The most worrisome part in all of this has been the reaction from the higher-ups within the US Federation. Head coach Bruce Arena, who was brought in to bring us back to the heydays of the early 2000s (or something?) after Jurgen Klinsmann’s shtick had grown tiresome, said after the game last night that US soccer is in a “good place.” Arena told reporters,
“There’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing. Certainly as our league grows, it advances the national team program. We have some good young players come up. Nothing has to change. To make any kind of crazy changes I think would be foolish. We’re building a good system in our professional league. We have players playing abroad of some quality.”
Nothing has to change. That’s the message coming out of the USMNT head coach after failing to reach the World Cup because they couldn’t earn a DRAW against Trinidad and Tobago.
It’s also the message being echoed by Gulati, who doesn’t think “wholesale changes” are needed.
I asked Sunil Gulati if wholesale changes are needed and he didn't sound like someone who felt that way. He's in the minority on that one.
— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) October 11, 2017
Wholesale changes are desperately needed. From the top to the bottom of the United States Soccer model. Youth development has to change. Coaching has to change. College soccer should change, if not be completely disbanded.
How can we compete with the best soccer nations when kids in Spain, Argentina, England, Germany, France, and Belgium (it’s almost laughable to compare our team to these countries) are expected to become professionals at 16 and Americans are just trying to get a college scholarship?
I’ve supported the USMNT ever since I can remember. There’ve had glimpses of promise, the 2002 World Cup and 2014 World Cup brought relatively solid results. There’s always been this idea that we’re just a couple players or a couple years away from really being able to challenge the best countries in the world.
Now, we’re back at square one. I want to hope that some good will come of this. Maybe, like Germany in 2000, this shitstorm will invigorate the US Federation and MLS to change their entire structures, but the message from Arena and Gulati is disheartening and doesn’t reveal any of the necessary soul-searching.
Next year, teams around from around the globe will compete in the World Cup in Russia. For the first time since 1986, the United States will not be there. It’s an absolutely shocking reality for US soccer, but the writing has been on the wall for years.