While many offer the US Men’s National Team needs to be better in attacking, or defending, or showing more “courage” the real issue remains, and always has, one of possession.
If you can’t (mentally and physically) control the game by showing you have solid control of the ball you’ll simply never ever be good enough to win at the very highest levels.
Yes, they are teams who win on the counter-attack – we’ve seen Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, France, Croatia, and others play winning soccer through counter-attacking football.
But each of those teams, when needed, will control the game through controlled possession – coaches and organizations who play that style recognize/understand these basic concepts:
- The precision and control you need with your first touch in counter-attacking is harder to execute than playing possession-based soccer.
- The precision and control you need to complete accelerated/difficult passing angles in counter-attacking are harder to create and execute than playing possession-based soccer.
- If you can’t accomplish those two simple aspects of the game (the most frequently used aspects of the game) in slow motion you’ll simply never-ever be able to accomplish those two simple aspects playing quickly.
In other words it’s HARDER to play creative and effective counter-attacking soccer than it is to play controlled, possession-based soccer.
You can’t be good at “B” until you are good at “A”.
This isn’t rocket science, you don’t need a bunch of statistics to tell you this – all you need to do is watch player movement with and without the ball to see if the current national team squad has the talent, nous, mentality, to play patient, controlled, possession-based soccer.
If they don’t, stop selecting them or retrain them – go back to square one and learn to play the frigging game appropriately. Even now, as a member of the Portland Timbers Youth Coaching System we are advocating controlled, possession-based soccer by playing from the back. Professional teams recognize this – why the hell doesn’t US Soccer?
Let me put it another way – the word ‘entitled’ surfaces a lot in our country when it comes to youth soccer – the pay to play program has parents convinced their child is entitled to start/play because the parent pays good money.
The same principle applies to the US Men’s National Team only with a twist…
US Soccer feels and thinks they are ‘entitled’ to play the most dynamic and most difficult style of soccer because they’ve spent an appropriate amount of money on athletes
good enough to go directly to playing counter-attacking soccer because they have spent the appropriate amount of money in their program to warrant playing that style; i.e. the knuckleheads running the program think they are ‘entitled’ to play the most dynamic and difficult style of soccer because they’ve paid good money
– players have ‘gone through the system’ and paid good money to get to the level they are – but the overwhelming majority of those players are NOT GOOD ENOUGH to play in Europe.