Above all, the US failure to qualify for the world cup is an absolute embarrassment, disaster, and disgrace. It is unreal how much of a failure this is. Obviously everything went wrong on the final group day and it seemed as if the soccer gods were against us, however there is absolutely no excuse for us putting ourselves in that position to begin with. We should not need a result on the last day to qualify. We should not need to rely on results from Mexico and Costa Rica either. The US should have never put themselves in that position to begin with and have nobody but themselves to blame.
Moving forward, this is a huge blow for the growth of soccer in the US. Every 4 years, for one month, the sport goes exponentially in this country. And next year that opportunity will be missed. We won’t be playing on the biggest stage. Those Americans who would previously become US soccer patriots and grow their enjoyment for the game wont have that. Instead they will see we didn’t make it, and thus heighten their dislike for the game and their idea of it as a foreigners sport. The next generation of up and coming athletes wont have the US national team to look up to at the World Cup, they wont be getting any life lasting memories of the US in the World Cup, as I was blessed by with moments like Landon Donovan’s goal against Algeria or Dempsey’s goal just a minute into our match vs. Ghana. It is such a shame that we won’t be able to capitalize on the huge amount of popularity the tournament usually produces in this country. However this also could be one of the best things to happen to US soccer in the long run.
For the first time in 3 decades it seems as if we truly have woken up and seen how bad soccer in this country is. This is the first time in 3 decades we haven’t made the tournament, and therefore the first time we wont be congratulating the players, coaches, and the federation, just for making the tournament. We realize that there is something very very wrong and there is actually no progress being made, if anything we are going backwards. It seems as if we have always been reliant on one star quality players, while the rest of the team helps out with grit and determination. Donovan, Dempsey, and Howard all being this star player in recent tournaments. However now, it seems as if we have the best star player we have ever had in Christian Pulisic. And the fact that the team has become so reliant on a 19 year old is damming. Players in this country just are not good enough. What that boils down to is not the culture of soccer in this country, because trust me there are plenty of young boys and men who dream of playing professionally, it is the system and structure of US soccer. That needs to have a drastic overhaul. The fact that Bruce Arena came out and said “nothing needs to change” is a disgrace. Everything needs to change (including the manager), starting from the bottom. The youth coaching in this country needs to change. The amount of different federations per state is not a good system for uniformity. We need to establish a way in which we are going to develop players, and stick to it. That is what all the top, and even lower level European nations do. They know how they want their national team to play, so they develop their youth to play that way as well. So a complete overhaul of coaching in the country needs to happen, but what also has to be done, is change the club system and the pay to play requirement. For one, so many amazing players in world football have come from low-income and even poverty. Examples are Luis Suarez, Alexis Sanchez, even Clint Dempsey (who’s sister had to give up soccer so his parents could afford to pay for Clint to play). If the US is pricing players out with the pay-to-play system, we could be turning our backs on some of the best talent our country has to offer. One way to change this would be to decrease the role the club system plays, and increase the role of academies. Top players need to be playing in academies rather than club and college. The fact that Pulisic could easily have been just another D1 player who maybe got a shot in the MLS, had he not gone to commit himself full-time it soccer in Germany, is scary. It shows that we may have many more quality young talents, but they are stuck in the college soccer system, where players are expected to develop by playing only 3 months out of the year. It is just ridiculous how bad our system for finding and developing talent is. There is so much more I could go on to and in so much more detail but I will leave that for another article. The fact of the matter is, so much needs to change in US soccer. And although it hurts now, and will hurt even more next summer, the US failing to qualify may be the best thing to ever happen to US soccer, if it brings about change in this country.