Are the Yanks in Trouble?
In the United States, soccer has never really caught the interest of the public eye. In fact, for twenty or so years, Major League Soccer has constantly rebranded itself year after year in efforts to increase both sales and public interest of the sport. While their efforts are now beginning to gain that much needed traction in developing and shaping the league as a serious contender against all other leagues all throughout the world, the United men’s national team, commonly referred to as USMNT, has even bigger things to worry about.
Unlike the Major League Soccer, the USMNT has generated a strong following and fan base. Their outcry of patriotism and nationalism ever since the 1996 World Cup was reinvigorated in 2010 when American hero and striker, Landon Donovan, was able to score that dramatic and memorable against Algeria, giving the United States the green light to advance within the World Cup. Since then, the fans have created the much-needed support for our boys (and women) in red, white, and blue with various groups such as the American Outlaws. These unofficial supporters for the United States men and women’s national soccer team have been described to be raucous, boisterous, and of course patriotic. With the fan base set, millions of dollars invested, and a world renowned Jurgen Klinsmann as their head coach, you would expect that the USMNT would create their mark within soccer history. But it’s like that one saying, “The bigger we are, the harder we fall.”
After 2010’s World Cup, the America soccer federation knew that there needed to be a change within their system. Yes, the USMNST team was performing better than they expected, but to be true competitor against the rest of the world, they needed a game changer. That is where Jurgen Klinsmann comes in. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Jurgen, Jurgen has been seen as the talisman for the German national team. As a former player, Klinsmann had the opportunity to play for some of the biggest clubs in the world. These teams included Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspurs, and Bayern Munich. With national decorations such as the 1988 Euro Cup, 1998 World cup, and third in the FIFA World Player of the Year, Jurgen felt the need to leave the pitch and trade in his boots and jersey for a jacket and tie as soccer manager Germany’s men’s national soccer team and Bayern Munich. In 2011, Jurgen was appointed as the new head coach for the United States men’s national soccer team. With immediate success, the United States thought they might have found their key into international soccer success. But with any great success, there will always be bigger obstacles.
While Klinsmann’s era was able to clinch the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2013 and lead the men’s national team to the last 16 of the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, it seems like the German talisman has hit a roadblock with improving his squad these past few months. The United State’s Gold Cup loss to both Jamaica and Panama was not just questionable, but down right embarrassing. To add gas to the fire, the past losses have allowed many soccer critics and fans to questions whether Jurgen is the right fit for our national soccer program.
With the Yanks in trouble, today’s game against Guatemala will reflect the readiness and managerial style that is going on in locker room. In just a few hours, the United States will take on Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier. This will be a day of reckoning for the leadership if the United States is unable to pull the rug underneath Guatemala. While tensions are immensely high, I am confident that the boys in strips will find a way. There is a point where you need to believe and trust into the system you do not quite understand. Jurgen has developed a stronger sense of pride and competitiveness that we have not seen since the infamous 2010 World Cup. Yes, it is important to see results. But it is also important to give it time. Just a few years are not enough to cultivate the much-needed talent to perform against the greats. At the end of the day, patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act while you are waiting. There is still plenty of time for Jurgen to prove himself. We just need to be wait and see.