World Cup 2022: Why did US Men’s National Team Fail?

Awhile ago – like 4 years ago I wrote this article and made a list as to why the US Soccer team didn’t qualify for WC 2018; here’s my short list of ‘on-pitch’ reasons to refresh your memory:

  • They lack on field leadership.
  • They lack the ability to possess the ball with any sense of conviction.
  • They lack the ability to penetrate with any sense of continuity in possession leading to that penetration.
  • They are predictable.
  • They lack “controlled aggression”.
  • Their team passing statistics are horrible.
  • They lack a pure #9, #8, #7, and #6 in the traditional sense of soccer.
  • They lack ‘shut-down’ fullbacks.
  • They lack center-backs who can not only possess the ball, but control space in and around their own 18 yard box with pace and fortitude.
  • They have a great goalkeeper.
  • Some of the players are really-really fast, many are slow or really slow.
  • Some of the players have a great first touch, many don’t.
  • Both Head Coaches have shown an inability to use the right tactics against opponents.

I’ll revisit each of them as an update ‘four years later’:

  • On field leadership – there’s no question Pulisic provides this leadership – as does Adams – so tick this box as fixed.
  • Possessing the ball with conviction – yes, this too appears fixed to some extent – but NO – the Men’s National Team does not CONTROL the game through possession – they continue to rely more on counter-attacking than in ‘controlling’ the game through possession. I see this as a function of coaching weakness not only with the current head coach but also within the overall development of players in our country.
  • Possessing with the intent to penetrate – yes, as much as you can associate the intent behind ‘breaking the lines’ with penetrating passes and/or dribble drives based upon the talent of some individual players – this is more a function of the players and their individual development playing in Europe it is not a function of players playing in Major League Soccer.
  • Predictability – this remains an issue – as long as the Americans cannot control a game through possession they will always be predictable. This fault lies directly with the head coach.
  • Controlled aggression – yes, this has been fixed to a degree – no-one was issued a red card and opposing players, were, to a good extent, pressured, physically, by the midfielders. But for the most part the central defenders lacked considerable presence – lest we forget the penalty awarded for Zimmerman’s ignorance in leaving his feet inside his own 18 yard box – a tackle that led to a penalty – a reminder for all that players who play in MLS simply don’t have the appropriate nous to play at the very highest levels of competition.
  • Passing – overall the team passed the ball better – at times – but what remains the major weakness – “not being able to control a game through possession with purpose” remains. This, again, is the fault of the head coach.
  • Pure #9, etc – while the midfielders and ‘outside forwards’ add great value to this team their REMAINS a considerable weakness in having a dominating #9. WHY? Well the reason is simple, there remains absolutely no proper coaching, at any level, in our country, where a #9 can learn how to play the game. This is the fault of the head coach and every other head coach in our country. Somewhere, anywhere, there MUST be at least 10 or 20 young players who have the nous to be a dominating #9 – most likely those types of players are playing a different sport than soccer. OR, they simply aren’t ‘rich’ enough to play at the very highest levels, in America, within the youth soccer programs. Bottom line here, this is down to poor head coaching and poor organizational leadership.
  • Shut down fullbacks – For the most part, yes – both Dest and Robinson did well at times – but as pure, pedigree – shut down fullbacks – no. And when you consider Yedlin was still in the team squad there remains a considerable weakness in that area.
  • Center-backs – NO – THIS area remains as much of a weakness as our #9 situation – and, again, I put the force force of blame on this down to the head coach and the entire
    US soccer organization. Surely there are faster and stronger lads who can learn to play the game of soccer that are currently playing other sports in our country – look at all the wide receivers and tight ends playing youth American Football” that could be playing, learning to play, center-back in our country – oddly enough the same caliber of player who could play as a #9 is the very same caliber of player who could be playing as a center-back.
  • Goalkeeper – Not an issue – never has been and likely never will be.
  • Speed of players – as noticed by any non-educated’ watcher – the Center-backs are slow – very slow – otherwise the majority of other field players have good to great foot speed.
  • First touch – apart from our center-backs and our center forwards the rest of the players on the pitch have a good first and second touch (for the most part). I don’t see this as a weakness outside of those two general areas.. I don’t see this as a strength of American coaching – I see it as a strength of players who are learning how to be successful in Europe – as for MLS, no way – this league remains a pedantic, pedestrian league for American plyers to ‘survive’ in alongside imported players who actually create the nous we don’t see with Americans. I blame this on American coaching and the general US Soccer organization.
  • Tactics – outside of the game against England – where it appeared Southgate was just as much afraid of the US as Berhalter was afraid of the English I’d offer the tactical nous of Berhalter lacked. I said it back in 2017 – Jesse Marsch should have been selected as the US Men’s National Team Head Coach. I remain STUBBORNLY STEADFAST and STEADFASTLY STUBBORN Jesse Marsch should be leading our Country. Oh, wait, Marsch is now a head coach for Leeds United, a position likely never to be held by Gregg Berhalter!

So, on pitch, the reason why the US Men’s National Team failed is strictly down to poor coaching and poor player development within the overall US Soccer Organization. Every positional weakness we see is down to the Coach and the US Soccer Organization in player position development. The fault of our team is not, I repeat, not down to the players.

MEDIA:

Finally – perhaps the greatest culprit in why Soccer simply doesn’t get better in our country is down to our media and, in particular, the absolute bollocks offered up by FOX Sports and the likes of Alexi Lalas, Clint Dempsey, Rob Stone, Stu Holden, Landon Donovan, John Strong, Chad Ocho-Cinco (who the fuck is this guy?) and the rest of the (not named) crew.

I have never heard a more condescending, pedantic, over-hyped group of hyperbole (bullshit and bollocks) in my life. What was gratifying was reading Aaron Timms article in the Guardian offering the same views.

While it may not make sense to many I put at least 50% of the blame on our nation’s failure, in the World Cup, down to the absolute bullshit (offered year in, year out) by our media. And a good portion of that bullshit media starts with Twitter and the ‘click-bait’ environment it has created.

Best, Chris

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