Bruce Arena and the gang just broke a bald eagle’s neck, plucked it, undercooked it, and served it to the fans of the United States men’s team. The ensuing vomit was sprayed all over Twitter and Facebook for hours and is still being cleaned up. Rightfully so, too. Failing to advance to the World Cup out of a group like this is absolutely unacceptable at this stage of our country’s growth in this sport.
Enough with all the hashtag CONCACAF jokes. Are some places tough to play? Sure, but those places are generally home to the other teams that advance. The United States should be tough to play in. Our fans should be loud and intimidating and the players should go out with confidence that they’ll get the win when they’re playing in Denver, New York, or Chicago.
Are some pitches rougher than others? Yes, but like Taylor Twellman said, Belgium had to beat Bosnia on what amounted to a cow pasture. And they did it. They won when they needed to against an inferior team. That sounds harsh, but it’s true. Some teams are just inferior to others. Belgium isn’t a traditional world soccer giant, but when they have the players to beat Cyprus and Gibraltar, they do it.
And that’s where the most puzzling problem with the United States men’s team comes into play. We have a pool of potential that’s twice as big as England, Germany, and Spain combined. Obviously you can’t catch all the talent in your net, but where is our national team youth system? We should be hearing all the time about the 16-year-old kid that’s skipping prom to go win a trophy for the U17 team or the team of 10-year-olds that are just tearing up some tournament in Mexico. Why are we starting so many old men? I apologize if you’re over thirty, but a national team full of guys thirty or older just isn’t going to do anything at a tournament. Keep one or two for experience and to guide the younger guys, but have a revolving door of young talent coming in from anywhere and everywhere. Set up a youth system that has the same philosophy as the senior team. Coaches that work together and are on the same page. Scout these kids young so that they know the guys they’re playing with years before they ever get on the field for a World Cup Qualifier against Mexico. Don’t put pressure on them to stay in the United States. German youth players aren’t playing Arizona High School League games. They’re playing with academies for teams in much better leagues than MLS and training with national youth teams. It’s not super hard to figure out why Christian Pulisic is so much better than Darlington Nagbe.
One last piece of advice: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CALL UP CHRISTIAN RAMIREZ. HE’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR STUPID, FAT EYES AND YOU’RE WASTING HIM.