Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Four "must-happens" for the US to contend at the 2014 World Cup


I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about what the US needs to do to become a World Cup contender.  Let me tell you, firing Bob Bradley is not going to cut it.  No personnel changes within the US national soccer program will catapult the US into the top tier of international soccer.  The change needs to be bigger: much bigger.  Here are the 4 things that need to happen for the US to win the 2014 World Cup.
4. Bye bye Bob Bradley.  That’s the easy one.  If any of you have a legitimate reason to keep him as the US head coach, please, enlighten us; at this point, I think even Bob Bradley’s not sure what Gulati (President of United States Soccer Federation) sees in him.  And for more reasons to axe him, well, see below.
3. Seek more contribution from our younger players.  It’s a new age of soccer.  World class players are rising at younger ages than ever (Messi, Rooney, Fabregas) and I’m not sure that older guys can keep up with the newcomers.  If you’re scratching your head, think back to what the young Mexican attackers did to our veteran defense.  Yeah, it wasn’t pretty.  At 22 and 23, Giovanni dos Santos and Chicharito don’t look like they need another few years to develop, and a 32-year-old Carlos Bocanegra looked like my grandmother trying to catch a butterfly.  Amusing, but not going to happen.   
2. Sabotage.  That’s right, sabotage.  It’s unlikely that the US will beat a team like Italy.  But it’s even more unlikely that they will beat Italy, then Spain, then Brazil.  That’s what it takes to win a World Cup.  But say we pull a few political strings.  Say Spain better not play David Villa unless they want, I don’t know, complete economic collapse.  The same goes for you Brazil.  Maybe the US’s chances are pretty good after all.
1. Pray.

7 comments:

  1. Bradley is a problem. He/Gulati and the entire US soccer federation have two huge problems the way I see it:

    1) We have no identity. Bradley has shown a complete inability to develop an identity for US soccer. We need to figure out who are, bring in the athletes we need to fit that identity(see below for more on this) and stick to it. Our squad is constantly being tweaked. Formations, lineups, positioning, style, mentality, to name a few things, are all anybody's guess going into a game. I mean we started that match v. Mexico w/o a striker on the field! Find an identity and stop trying to be a chameleon who changes with every new opponent/situation.

    If we find an identity and put 4 years of work into it, our guys will at least know who they are. And if that comes up short (ie: you lose to a better team) then you shake their hands and move on. If that consistently happens then you get new coaching personnel in and go back to the identity drawing board.

    2)We have an absolutely atrocious system for recognizing, and developing our athletes in this country. I believe soccer is the 2nd most played sport (only to basketball) among youths in the US. Yet our system consistently cannot produce any depth. There is talent at the top. And players like Dempsey, Donovan, Howard, Edu, Feilhaber et al. are quality players, although often misused or neglected. However, for a country of 275-300 million people, not being able to produce a 5th competent defender is just embarrassing. Our system almost requires players to have money to be seen and therefore have chance. This is backward. Playing on a multi-thousand dollar a year suburban club/academy team should not be the pre-requisite for being considered for development. There are players here, we just don't develop them.

    Frustrated soccerhead.

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  2. ahramire, thank you for your comment. It's thought provoking and there is a lot of truth to what you said. The one thing I'm unsure of is your proposed "identity." The modern game is constantly changing, and I'm not sure that setting a team in stone would be the best course of action. I think it's a good thing to have a constantly changing lineup, with guys always competing for a starting spot. Hopefully, we can improve our scouting and look for talent in the right places. I agree, money should not be a factor.

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  3. [Sorry--just wrote a huge response that didn't post for some reason. Too tired to write it all again. Here's the part I copy pasted before I lost it (this is the second half). Anyway I agree with your main point and hoped to clarify my concept of identity.]

    Ask yourself this: "What kind of team are we?" and chances are your answer will change depending on the quality of the opponent on the calendar that day.

    If we want to move from the ranks of the legitimate flags that are ultimately "Also-rans" to the level of teams taken as serious threats to challenge in these major tournaments (Gold-Cup is not included as major), we need to know who we are, and stick to it. But I don't mean be stale or one dimensional. I just mean we should NEVER play a more defenisive style/formation/mentality/line up because of the flag flying on the other bench. Decide who we want to be, be that, and if other elite teams eliminate us, then we will at least know they are better. As it stands I think our talent and our country is significantly better than our performance says. That Brazil game should have been won, not because we were lucky that day, but because we were and can still be the better team. Without Identity it's hard to find that confidence and that belief.

    Sorry for the long winded response. I TOTALLY agree that we need to be mulit-faceted, and dynamic (ie: a well timed and used substitute should be able to help teams change gears in the midst of a match that gets bogged down), however I think we should ALWAYS go into a match with the BELIEF that we belong on the field with the other nation, and I believe that this BELIEF can only be instilled in any team by first having a clear unified vision and purpose of what we are and what we want to do on the pitch.

    PS. Blog is great by the way, keep it up.

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  4. Ok, thanks for the clarification. It makes sense. I think an identity for the team would also increase viewership. Hopefully we can find a unifying identity soon.

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  5. Will not happen, US soccer is like the corruptness of FIFA with the talent of Romania. It is over. At least to be honest I have Ireland. Love the US but is appears we are done I am not even sold on qualifying.

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