All posts by btgallagher

If it’s Broken, Don’t Fix it: USMNT’s Newfound Motto

Whether you call it fútbol, football, or soccer, all footie fanatics can agree that the most enjoyable aspect of a watching a match follows the final whistle; a winning result. In America, soccer fans are not privy to that aspect, specifically on a national scale. Sitting at a measly 28th place in the Men’s FIFA ranking, a country that dominates almost every field that they step on cannot seem to fit the bill when it comes to winning soccer games. To the everyday US Men’s National Team fan, winning meaningful or important games is almost never expected, and extended World Cup tenure will almost never come to fruition. Taking just twelve wins from their nineteen games in 2016, the United States Men’s National Team only managed victory three times against teams with a superior ranking to them, and lost seven times to the better nation. When the going gets tough, a US win is nowhere to be found.

With all of this being said, the USMNT was looking to turn things around after their separation from 5-year coach Jürgen Klinsmann. Thus began the search for the coach that will turn the US program around. Did I say that this decision would turn our program around? Such a fate just doesn’t seem fitting for the the USMNT. Not even a full 24-hours after Klinsmann’s release, the USMNT hired Bruce Arena, a coach with a previous tenure head coaching the USMNT,  serving from 1998-2006. Yes, you read that correctly, the man who was already deemed unfit to manage the team in previous years was re-appointed. The USMNT’s newfound motto: If it’s broken, don’t fix it.

Without much consideration, the USMNT decided to hire a coach who struggles with many facets of coaching, including a notorious struggle with roster selection. In order to play national team soccer, Arena believes that they must be a purebred American. Quoted saying, “players on the national team should be–and this is my own feeling–they should be Americans. If they’re all born in other countries, I don’t think we can say we are making progress.”, Arena doesn’t think the team can progress if players born in other countries play for the national team. Immediate outliers to his comment are the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Lukas Podolski, Marcel Desailly, and World Cup record goal scorer Miroslav Klose. According the man in charge of the USMNT’s destiny, Germany should have never progressed after calling up Klose, a polish born player, to play for their national team.

Along with Arena’s “homegrown” mentality, he is also quoted saying that “two-thirds” of the national team will be made up of MLS players. Fantastic. Not only are we potentially limiting our roster to players who are potentially less skilled than non-homegrown American’s that qualify for the national team, but the majority those who actually are selected are coming from a league deemed as a graveyard for legends (most of whom are not American). The inadequateness of the MLS can be attributed to many things, but starting the foundation of a national team with players from teams who consistently fail to compete with teams in Mexico is never a good start.

In the end, the USMNT’s incessant desire for mediocrity is much too apparent after recent events. With a large variety of capable American national team qualifying players from other countries available, the US went ahead and chose the Donald Trump of coaches for the team, which will most likely have the adverse effect of the President’s slogan.