United States Soccer: Let's Face It, USA Is Just Not That Good Right Now
The United States just lost to Jamaica in the second round of World Cup qualifying.
I'll let that sink in for a moment. Then I'll say it again, so you know you're not dreaming.
The United States...just lost...to Jamaica...in the second round of World Cup qualifying.
Jurgen Klinsmann and Co. didn't even get midway off the pitch before the Jamaicans were jumping up and down and starting to play those vuvuzelas. It looked like a wild, tone-deaf symphony that wasn't going to stop until the sun came up—on Monday.
Let's face it, fellow Yanks; for the third time in as many matches, the U.S. men's national team has been an absolute disgrace to watch.
Getting off to a slow start against Antigua and Barbuda is forgivable. It was the first match, and it was a torrential downpour in Tampa. However, not being able to put away a country that perpetually confuses sportswriters everywhere with the question of "Barbados" versus "Barbuda" is never a good thing.
Our boys then traveled to Guatemala and gave up a late equalizer, earning only one point when three were mere minutes away. This time we scratched our heads a little harder, but Klinsmann helped us see the light:
"We're okay with the one point that we take away leading the group," Klinsmann told ESPN after the match, reminding us it was an away match. Never mind that Guatemala is currently ranked 91st in the world, sitting in between such powerhouses as Malawi and Qatar.
It was an away match, and when crappy teams play at home, they're automatically better. It's like FIFA 13...or something.
Friday's contest against Jamaica? I don't know how the Klins-meister is going to spin this one, but the squad we fielded in Kingston is, well, just not that good right now.
Sure, Tim Howard's a stud and will be until he retires at the age of 57.
Our defense? Arbitrary.
Our midfield? Lethargic.
Our forward? Impotent.
Our coaching? Laughable.
It really doesn't matter who we put on the back line, does it, Klinsy? You're 14 months into your reign, and your methodology of forming a team of defenders is about as haphazard as George Lucas' creation of Star Wars.
"Lightsabers! Exhaust pipes! Jedi flight! Anything's possible in my universe!"
If the midfield is a squad's waistline, we need to do some P90X. It's bigger than just having Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan out of the lineup. Kyle Beckerman could be a great NASL player, but he has no business competing internationally, and an out-of-shape Clint Dempsey ruled the midfield.
That's how bad it's been so far during World Cup qualification.
Will the U.S. earn a spot in World Cup 2014?
The offense? American strikers have accounted for one goal in three matches, and it was scored by Herculez Gomez—the 30-year-old that former manager Bob Bradley gave up on. Jozy Altidore? More like Jozy Anonymous.
Finally, we come to Jurgen Klinsmann, the pinnacle of American disappointment on Friday, the coup de grace to our chances against Jamaica. He started Kyle Beckerman, Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones, all defensive midfielders, at the same time. He employed a one-striker formation for the last 17 minutes of the match. He kept an ailing Dempsey in the match for all 90 minutes.
I keep hearing, "We'll advance out of our group. You only need to earn second place."
When you "earn" second place in a group that includes Guatemala and Antigua and Barbuda (Barbados?), you've got to examine what your definition of the world "earn" really is.
You've also got to wonder if America can even take the pitch against Germany, Portugal and Spain if they can barely compete within this qualifying group.
Our football's just not that good, America. It's time we face facts and stop shouting "Don't tread on me!" because, well, we just got tread on.
If our quality doesn't take a sharp turn for the better before Tuesday, we won't make it out of the second round of CONCACAF qualification for World Cup 2014.
Don't think of that as tragedy. America playing like this against Brazil in front of a billion television viewers in 2014 would be a tragedy. The United States, if it continues to look like this, exiting qualification would be an act of mercy—akin to Travis shooting Old Yeller and putting that dying animal out of its misery.
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