If you’ve been on social media in the last two days, I would bet that you’ve seen more than one article giving the rundown about the United States Men’s National Team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup next summer. All that the USMNT had to do was tie Trinidad and Tobago (along with getting some help from Mexico and Costa Rica) to punch their ticket to the 2018 World Cup. However, the Stars and Stripes failed to beat the 99th ranked team in the world and was eliminated with Honduras beating Mexico 3-2 and Panama pulling an upset against Costa Rica winning 2-1.
When the men’s team failed to qualify the entire nation was in shock and disbelief- there’s 323.1 million people in this country and we couldn’t find a starting 11 to beat the 99th ranked country? There’s been blame placed on Jurgen Klinsmann, Bruce Arena, the players individually, but I’m not here to explain the multiple reasons the men failed to beat Trinidad and Tobago. Instead, I’m here to look at the domino effect that’s going to impact every soccer player in this nation.
This shocking defeat can have two outcomes- one being nothing changes, and the men’s team continues to not live up to their potential, with this being only the first of many disappointing losses. However, being the optimistic person I am, I think this loss will force another result- U.S Soccer completely changes the way that soccer is played in this country. Anyone who’s ever played soccer as a kid, or has a kid that played soccer knows the Pay to Play system- young kids and their families are having to fork over thousands of dollars to play elite club soccer. If you watched the game on Tuesday, you obviously know that this system isn’t working. We, as a country, are too greedy with these soccer players- we’d rather have a system that pays us in money rather than amazing athletes. USSF needs a complete reboot, starting from the bottom of the tier with the youth development program. We can no longer afford to have a Pay to Play system, or the USMNT are going to continue taking losses like it’s their job.
So what happens if this recent loss changes nothing and USSF thinks its just a blemish, and everything will go back to normal soon enough? Unfortunately, we can’t allow ourselves to think like that. Throughout the entire qualifying, not just the recent game, the USMNT have struggled against their opponents- only earning 12 points out of a possible 30. Tuesday was an utter embarrassment to this country- one that we haven’t felt since 1986, the last time the USMNT failed to qualify for a World Cup. However we now have the MLS, youth national teams, and more money in the soccer program- all things that the United States didn’t have in 1986, and the Stars and Stripes still can’t get a tie against Trinidad and Tobago? I’m honestly still trying to wrap my head around the concept. The team has already been ripped to shreds by more media personals than I can count, so I’ll give them some slack. All I can really say is, our women’s team have won the World Cup 3 times, and our men’s team can’t even qualify. Obviously, there needs to be a change somewhere in the system so that both of them can be successful. We can no longer hold the Men’s National Team to such low standards- if we continue to do that, we might as well forfeit all future games now.