USMNT: 5 Reasons 2012 Promises to Be a Great Year for Team USA
After a very successful year in 2010, the USMNT struggled to consistently perform at a high level in a tumultuous 2011. Coaching changes, significant injuries, and rebuilding strategies all contributed to a year full of chaotic disappointment. While there were plenty of bright spots such as Jozy Altidore's emergence and the addition of several talented German-Americans, the team's drop in performance coincided with their FIFA ranking falling to nearly a new low.
However, with the berth of a new year comes a fresh slate where the Yanks can try and prove once again that they are a force to be reckoned with. Multiple factors hint that this prophecy could come true, so here is five of them to get you excited about the USMNT this year.
Clint Dempsey's Fantastic Form
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One of the most exciting stories of 2011 was Clint Dempsey’s fantastic form and progression so late in his career.
After seven years of professional football, Deuce still seems to be developing like a young kid, an improvement that is fantastically surprising. Barring no serious injuries in the next couple of years, Dempsey could very well have his most effective World Cup in 2014 despite being 31 years old.
2012 could be the year when Dempsey becomes the prime attacker and leader for the USMNT, an ascension that would thrill all stateside fans.
The German Phenomenon
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While the introduction of Jurgen Klinsmann has not exactly resulted in wins on the scoreboard, the USMNT is finally winning in another category: Foreign transfers. Since the arrival of JK, the amount of mixed-breed Americans in the player pool has soared and more are surely on the way in 2012.
Klinsmann’s ability to influence qualified talented foreigners to represent the USMNT at the national level is a huge step in the right direction and positively enhances an already competitive player pool. A better player pool means a better squad, and a better squad means a very promising upcoming year.
Americans Hopping the Pond
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There’s no denying that the USMNT’s influence in Europe has been increasing over the last decade. Every year more and more young American prospects test out their talents in Europe to face better competition and enhance their skills.
This past year we saw plenty of players succeed at the club level across the ocean and many others participate in training stints with big name clubs. Brek Shea trained with Arsenal, Juan Agudelo joined Liverpool for a few weeks, and many others went to Germany to train with some of the premier teams in the Bundesliga. It is great to see Americans testing themselves against some of the world’s best in order to gain valuable experience that will evidently help at the National Level.
Jurgen Klinsmann has connections all across the continent and is determined in making these European training sessions/transfers a habit in 2012. That can only be a good thing for this developing USMNT squad.
Fortunate Olympic Qualifying Draw
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The fortunate draw for the Americans in the Olympic Qualifying groups hints that there will be no slip up this Spring for the U23 Yanks. The USMNT will have to defeat the likes of Canada (Undefeated since 1985), El Salvador (Last/Only loss in 1992), and Cuba (Last meeting 6-1 victory) in order to get into the semifinal round.
As you can see, the US has a very strong track record against their Group A opponents and will surely advance to the next round where they will be only a win away from an Olympic berth. Just getting back to the Olympics with a chance to stun the world is an achievement for any soccer nation. That being said, an easy path to the Olympics is one reason why 2012 looks to be a successful year for the USMNT.
US Soccer's NBC Deal
The fantastic deal struck by MLS and the USMNT with NBC was an absolute game-changing moment. The fact that multiple games next year will be broadcasted on another powerhouse network is a great sign of the terrific progress this sport has gone through the last couple of years. The intra-channel promoting and enhanced publicity for the USMNT will mean more and more Yanks fans every year.
The soccer revolution that we have all been waiting for could very well begin in the next twelve months.