It’s almost 2018, and with that comes one of the greatest events in sports, the Fifa World Cup. The World Cup is second probably only to the Olympics when it comes to showing pride for your country. Germany, France, Brazil, Spain, and other countries are a staple in this historic event. The USMNT (United States Men’s National Team) has been a staple country since 1986, but that all changed earlier this week.
After the USMNT handily took care of Panama just four days prior, it seemed an almost guarantee that we would be seeing them in the World Cup. All they had to do was beat Trinidad and Tobago, who was a heavy underdog. But, they failed. The USMNT lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday night. This accompanied by both Panama and Honduras winning their games, led the USMNT to fall out of the top four in the CONCACAF standings, in turn crushing any hopes of a World Cup berth.
This was debatably the most talented USMNT in a while. Head coach Bruce Arena said otherwise: “Is this the most talented? I don’t know how you come up with that. The only way that you evaluate your program and the quality is the World Cup”(Bleacher Report). Most talented group or not, they were damn close and shouldn’t have failed so miserably.
There are exciting players coming down the pipeline, such as Schalke’s Weston McKennie, Monterrey’s Jonathan Gonzalez, the New York Red Bulls’ Tyler Adams, and an under-17 squad that is undefeated at its age group World Cup (Bleacher Report). So what I’m telling you is there is hope in the future. We will have to unfortunately wait until the 2022 World Cup to see if the USMNT can get their act together.
This kind of failure doesn’t come without attention. Taylor Twellman, former USMNT and MLS player, went on a heated rant on SportsCenter after the US’s loss to Trinidad: “As a whole, U.S. Soccer is not prepared. They have not done a good enough job of getting this group ready to play,” Twellman said, noting that the U.S. has failed to qualify for the past two Olympics, for which under-23 squads are used (Washington Post). “By the way, as an ex-player, every single one of those players? Nightmares, for the rest of their lives, because this is an utter embarrassment…With the amount of money that is in Major League Soccer and in this sport, you can’t get a draw, a tie, against Trinidad? … you don’t deserve to go to the World Cup.”
He went on to make this comparison: “Iceland is the size of Corpus Christi, Texas. They can figure it out. What are we doing?” Earlier this month, Iceland qualified for it’s first ever World Cup, becoming the smallest country ever to do so, with a population of just 335,000. To give you a visual, here is how Iceland compares to the US:
So what happened to the men? Almost every kid plays soccer, so it’s not like there’s a lack of team members. Granted, soccer is not as big in the US as it is in Europe and other parts of the world, but the USMNT’s severely underpaid counterparts, the USWNT, have won the Women’s World Cup three times since 1991, and made it to the finals in 2011. USWNT is paid almost four times less than the USMNT, despite producing nearly $20 million in revenues for U.S. Soccer in 2015 (per U.S. Soccer’s released annual financial report, Sports Illustrated).
Moral of the story, we’ll have to wait until at least 2022 to see out USMNT compete in the World Cup, so start getting behind the USWNT as we will most likely be seeing them in the World Cup in 2019.
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