I still can’t believe how poorly the United States played against Mexico last Saturday at the Rose Bowl in the CONCACAF Cup. They held little possession, took few good shots on goal, defended abysmally, and couldn’t break on the counter if their dream of playing against the best nations in the world counted on it. Oh wait, it did.
With their win, Mexico’s national team secured a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. Sure, it doesn’t have the same importance as the World Cup, but it’s still a significant tournament that the US hasn’t appeared in since 2009, and now won’t be eligible for again until 2021.
But this loss is a symptom of a larger malignancy that has cursed the United States men’s team all summer long. Impressive (and meaningless) victories over Germany and the Netherlands quickly gave way to a thoroughly unspectacular performance at the Gold Cup. A win there would have rendered Saturday’s match moot. Instead, the US lost in the semi-finals to Jamaica. Then there was the tie with Panama, the stunningly poor defeat to Brazil, and capped off with Tuesday’s loss to Costa Rica. I can’t wait to see how far the team has slipped in the world rankings.
Meanwhile, America’s developmental soccer players haven’t fared any better. They lost in the semi-finals of the Under-20 World Cup after a breathtakingly inept penalty shootout. And then just last week, the U-23 squad, failed to earn an outright berth to the Olympics. Fortunately, a playoff with Colombia may yet save their campaign.
Jurgen Klinsmann, who is in charge of leading both the USMNT and the development of its youth system, has admitted our country is not yet a top contender in world soccer. Four years have passed since he took the reins, and his contract locks him in through the next World Cup cycle. But it’s now past time he start showing some results. Philosophies only get you so far, no matter how good they sound in interviews.
Until he proves me otherwise, I’m with Landon. Are you?
George Quraishi (@quraishi), the founder and editor of Howler Magazine (@whatahowler), and the incredible Dummy podcast, joined The Big Game this week to talk about this game. We break down the the atmosphere, the players, the tactics, and especially Jurgen Freakin’ Klinsmann and the future of US Soccer.