I’ve rambled like fuck on Twitter since the apocalypse happened. It’s been all over the place, hot takes here and there – nonsensical musings in the heat of the moment that I later regret. We’re all angry obviously. I’ve been to 3 World Cup qualifiers in this cycle and enjoyed them immensely. I recall going down to the Dam for every US Mens game in Brazil and just having an absolute blast.
So not qualifying is a bitter pill. And yes, I am a naturalized citizen; that doesn’t make me any more or less a US Citizen. But I do accept to a degree I am a bit of an outsider looking in, and can comment objectively at what I see. I do it for gun control and universal healthcare, so why not here?
Obviously, comparisons will be made to the tenure of the previous coach, Jurgen Klinsmann. However, just like how we compare the teams and performances of Preki’s Saint Louis FC to that of Dale Schilly, it is unfair and has the benefit of hindsight. Just like I would not want Dale back at Soccer Park for the STLFC hot seat, I feel the same way about Jurgen. He was given the job, in my opinion, based on the fact that he simply lived here. He was Sunil Gulati’s prize catch, which to me never made sense. He took Germany to the semi finals of the World Cup in Germany, the absolute bare minimum, and then destroyed Bayern Munich. He should in all reality have never been given the job. Nobody else was touching him with a shitty stick at the time so why did we?
That said, I thought Klinsmann actually did well, especially at the beginning. We all look back on his record in winning a Gold Cup, topping the Hex, and coming 4th in a Copa America. It’s really not too shabby if you look at it that way; he held it together pretty well until the wheels fell off in the Gold Cup semi final against Jamaica. Is it fair to look back and think he actually over achieved?
One thing Klinsmann did do right was with his friendlies. From start to finish, the USMNT played hard friendlies (as hard as an international friendly can be): away at Germany, Netherlands, Chile, Italy, France, Bosnia and Russia.
The last USMNT friendly played away from home was against Cuba last October. Since then our friendly games were home to Serbia, New Zealand and Ghana. It’s not even in the same league as the friendlies Klinsmann demanded we play. How can you prepare to play in hostile environments if you don’t go and put yourself out there? Klinsmann did, and the program was all the better for it. 3 points from 5 away games in the Hex is the results you get when you don’t go out there and test yourself.
That said, USSF doesn’t make any money when they travel abroad and play. So instead, let’s host second rate nations at home and charge punters $60 for the cash cow.
Well it’s a fucking joke isn’t it? Again, playing at home every two years has made it so comfortable and bland, it’s become the Applebee’s of international tournaments. How do we get out of our element playing in Carson and Kansas City?
Sure, the facilities and pitches aren’t as good elsewhere in the region. That’s a lame excuse though. The CONCACAF federation can’t make as much money if a Gold Cup was held jointly in Panama/Costa Rica. See above: it all comes down to the fans in USA being a cash cow over the good of the game.
In order for central American soccer associations to upgrade their stadia, to improve their facilities, you must give them a reason to do so. And nobody can tell me how much fun it would be to see a tournament in the Carribbean (don’t laugh, they held a cricket world cup there, it can be done)
The USA needs to play meaningful tournaments outside their comfort zone. If they don’t make the Confederations Cup for awhile and now no World Cup next year, when is the next competitive tournament game the USA could play off home soil? Qatar 2022?
Pay to Play
Seen this a lot today on Twitter. This seems to be the big scapegoat. Well instead of bitching and griping about it in 140 characters or less, put your money where your mouth is. You get a grass roots movement going, buy some cones, balls and bibs, lobby your local city hall to install some 5-a-side fields in the park and get after it.
Personally, I think until USSF gets to grips with the fact that MLS can swoop into an academy and pluck a kid out as a homegrown talent for no compensation, then pay to play is here to stay. Again, you’re being used as a cash cow and USSF is complicit.
I could gripe about the many flaws of MLS, If you go through my Twitter feed you’ll probably see them. That said MLS, is not responsible for the well being of the US Mens National team. It’s responsible for MLS and MLS alone. I do want to touch on one thing though: people have commented that lots of Honduran and Panamanian players play in MLS and they’ve qualified. This is undoubtedly true. Although I’ll argue with Honduran, Panamanian, Costa Rican MLS players: they’re averaging what, say, $100 to $200k a year on average? What’s the average USMNT player on in MLS. $2 million or so? Who is hungrier?
Since the success of USA getting out of the group of death in Brazil, the MLS has written massive checks to USA players to bring them home. It has done us no favors.
Pro / Rel
You all know how I feel. I don’t need to put my Tinfoil Ted hat on. It’s time, however, to stop calling people zealots and truthers about this. Rather, it’s time for a comprehensive open discussion about it. Soccer analysts and journalists entrenched in the game do not touch the subject because the MLS and USSF don’t want them to talk about it openly. The well being of the game demands that changes and everything is on the table.
Sucks eh? I remember when England didn’t qualify for USA 94. One thing I’ve seen in my time here (and since I moved from Ohio in 2012) is the rise of American Outlaws. I really love it. It is a great place to converse, meet and enjoy the game. Sure, they have their detractors, as do the Louligans, but anytime you can meet up with friends, have a pint, and enjoy a game of soccer, it is a good thing. Take this on the chin. Don’t stop supporting your national team. Although, take a long hard look at what’s going on around in US Soccer and question everything, demand better from everyone. You’re the customer and you’ve been right royally shat on by everyone from Gulati downwards.
I know many will not agree with some or all of this piece. That’s cool. Your opinion is just as valid as mine. I just felt I had to spill my guts and have some cathartic therapy in print form.