It’s an anniversary U.S. soccer fans want to forget. When the final whistle blew in Trinidad & Tobago on October 10, 2017, it marked the end of one era for men’s soccer in the U.S. and started a new one.
While the first chapter of that new era remains incomplete on the first anniversary of the T&T debacle as we await the naming of new men’s national team head coach, U.S. Soccer is looking forward.
In a statement released by U.S. Soccer on October 10, 2018, it read in part, “With the march towards 2022 and the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America as our guidepost, the U.S. Men’s National Team has embarked on a new journey. The hallmarks of the culture remain, with perseverance, grit and dogged determination fueled by pride to represent the United States and each and every one of you.”
There was also some other stuff in the statement about playing style, although a permanent head coach is needed to further define that, and some basic flag-waving “American spirit” speak that sounds nice but in reality means little without on-field success.
While the cynic in me rolled my eyes while reading much of the statement, there is, indeed, some good news for the U.S. men. The young American players such as Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tim Weah and Tyler Adams are the now and the future and provide a depth of youthful talent not seen in the American side in several years.
Three of those players are currently plying their trade in Germany’s Bundesliga and Ligue I in France, playing regularly with and against the best players in their respective leagues and across Europe in Champions League. It is believed that Adams, currently with New York Red Bulls, may join RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga during the January transfer window, which would be a positive development for his career. And we’re still waiting for Josh Sargent, now with Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga, to have a bigger impact on the men’s team. To date, he only has three senior team caps.
Having these and other talented players cutting their teeth with some of the top European sides is a wonderful development for the U.S. team going forward. These players going forward are expected to grow and be the backbone of the team over at least the next two World Cup cycles, if not longer. While it would be nice to have them competing domestically, Major League Soccer does not offer the high level of competition these players need to continue their development to be able to battle the top international teams.
For the up-and-coming American male players, if you’re good enough, cast your eyes toward Europe. That may give the men’s national team greater depth and a bigger opportunity to compete with the traditional world powers in the World Cups to come.
And, about that new head coach…
Greg Sleter is the Editor/Publisher of SleterFC.com.