By Matt Ferris
Following a 2-1 loss on Oct. 10, the United States men’s national soccer team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Team USA played a total of 10 qualifying matches, in what is known as the CONCACAF Hexagonal. In such a format, the top three teams automatically qualify for the World Cup and the fourth moves on to a playoff with a team in a similar position from another continent.
In those 10 games, the team went 3-4-3 officially eliminating it from contention.
This will be the Qrst World Cup since 1986 in which the United States will not be a participant.
Following the firing of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann in 2016, who led the team to a 0-2 start in the qualifiers, the U.S. hired Bruce Arena, who finished up the qualifiers with a 3-2-3 record.
Arena, a former U.S. player, is serving his second stint as the coach of the national team. Arena coached from 1998-2006, during which he qualified for three World Cups in as many tries.
Until this point, soccer has been considered to be on the rise in the United States. After coming within one bad strike away from beating Belgium in the 2014 World Cup and advancing to the quarterfinals – the last eight of the entire field – U.S. soccer fans were and anxious for the team to take the next step. The step included not just competing with the Belgiums of the world, but beating them. Not only did the team not take that step forward, but they took a significant step backwards.
This proves that the U.S. is nowhere even close to being a powerhouse on a global stage like it is in almost every other sport.
Soccer in the USA has a long way to go if the team wants to take the leap to competing with teams like Spain, Germany, or Argentina – losing to Trinidad and Tobago in a win or go home game proves that.
Sure Sunil Gulati, the president of United States soccer, has had a lot of success throughout his tenure with the team, and sure Arena has had a lot of success in his previous run with the squad, but it is time for a change. It is time for a fresh start.
The U.S. soccer program needs a complete transformation: a new president, a new coach and younger players.
With a player like Christian Pulisic, who is only 19 years old and already a star, the U.S. has someone to pass the torch to for the future. However, the team needs more youthful players to surround him.
Developing players should be the number one priority for U.S. soccer. The reason teams like Spain, Germany and Argentina are so good is because they have a revolving door of talent. When older players retire, newer, younger players step right in and are competitive.
This is what the U.S. is missing. The U.S. must start a complete rebuild and start developing players like the powerhouse soccer nations, before it can even think about redemption in 2022. The sooner they realize this is not an overnight fix, the quicker strides can be taken.