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US men’s soccer reflects on big loss

Haley Richards, Courier Staff

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This year has been a strange one in the world of soccer, starting with the U.S. Men’s National team not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. A loss from Trinidad and Tobago back in October meant the World Cup wouldn’t feature the United States for the first time in 31 years. After this loss, head coach Bruce Arena resigned.

“It is the greatest privilege for any coach to manage their country’s National Team, and as I leave that role today,” Arena said. “I am honored and grateful to have had that opportunity twice in my career.”

Before Arena parted ways, he took full responsibility for the loss, claiming that they were unable to get the job done.

“This certainly is a major setback for the senior Men’s National Team program, and questions rightly should be asked about how we can improve,” Arena said. “No doubt this process already has started and will continue so that U.S. Soccer can progress. Having said that, it also is important to recognize the tremendous growth and accomplishments we have achieved over the past two decades in all areas, including player development, coaching education and a stable domestic professional league. This work is ongoing and despite the result in Trinidad, the sport is on the right path.  By working together, I am confident soccer in this country will continue to grow in the years and decades ahead.”

This past week, 19-year-old midfielder Christian Pulisic admitted he’s been “pretty depressed” since the Americans failed to make it to Russia next year. He believes that the key to the success of the men’s team is to develop the top players from
ages 16-18 claiming that American players need to be challenged more during the most important years of development.

“For a soccer player, man, ask anyone and they’ll tell you, those age 16 to 18 years are everything,” Pulisic said. “From a developmental perspective, it’s almost like this sweet spot. It’s the age where a player’s growth and skill sort of intersect, in just the right way, with the right direction, a player can make their biggest leap in development by far.”

Pulisic compared U.S. soccer to European soccer, claiming that the best players in America are always treated like “stars” as opposed to competing countries where players are required to earn their spot on the field throughout their entire life.

“In Europe, on the other hand, the average level of ability around you is just so much higher. It’s a pool of players where everyone has been ‘the best player,” Pulisic said. “And everyone is fighting for a spot, truly week in and week out. Which makes the intensity and humility that you need to bring to the field every day, both from a mental and physical perspective, just unlike anything that you can really experience in U.S. developmental soccer.”

Pulisic ended his debate claiming that the path to winning a World Cup does not begin with more talent, but rather developing the talent that is already here, in the
correct way.

However, the U.S. is not the only country upset that they are missing the World Cup. Italy will miss out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958. Netherlands, Ghana and Chile will also be staying at home next summer.

The U.S. Soccer Federation is looking into possibly hosting a pre-World Cup international tournament containing the five teams. The USSF is still in the beginning stages discussing the possible friendlies, so there are still many ideas being tossed around.

These matches will be something to look forward to but I can assure you that all of these teams would much rather be playing in Russia.

The World Cup will be played in 12 different venues throughout Russia. It begins on June 14, 2018 and will end on July 15. This is the 21st FIFA (Federation International Football Association) World Cup. It is the first World Cup held in Europe since 2006.

For soccer fans in America, Italy, Ghana, Chile and the Netherlands, we will have to wait another four years to watch our teams compete for the Cup. That is part of the reason why it is such a big upset when a team doesn’t qualify for the World Cup. The players, coaches, and fans must wait another four years for another chance.

Hopefully with the four years the U.S. Men’s National Team can find a way fix the problem (or problems) they face for a more successful future in men’s soccer.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
US men’s soccer reflects on big loss