US National Soccer Team – How Can It Get Better?
Posted by admin on July 17, 2007
In 1930, the US national soccer team got off to a roaring international career at the inaugural World Cup. In a tournament mostly dominated by South American teams, the United States reached the semi-finals. However, since then, the USA’s record has been rather poor. And that is being generous. Apart from 2002, where they reached the quarterfinals, the men’s national team has faired very badly in international tournaments. The latest incident being the 2007 Copa America where the US was utterly and completely lambasted by its South American competition. You have to ask yourself, why? The United States is one of the largest countries in the world with, arguably, the most physically gifted athletes. Furthermore, with an incredibly powerful economy, Americans have almost unlimited resources for training and equipment.
So, why can the USA never seem to reach the highest eschelon of international soccer? The reason is actually very simple. We simply do not have the skill that the rest of the world enjoys. US ball movement is less crisp, slower and not nearly as accurate as some of the better teams in the world. Also, the US has become incredibly predictable in terms of how it attacks. If it ever wants to become an actual offensive threat, ingenuity and creativity will somehow have to be embedded into its game. Plus, defending has become more of an option than a mandatory part of the game. The list of the national team’s inadequacies goes on and on, from sub-par distribution from the back to inefficiency in front of the goal. Simply put, when the US participates in international tournaments, it is overmatched.
Now that the US finds itself in hole, how can it dig itself out? The answer, like the problem, is a simple one. US players must leave the country and join the more prestigious leauges around the world, even if that means leaving America prematurely and training with secondary teams for awhile. If you look at the rosters of international soccer powerhouses, you will notice a common trend – their players have a wealth of experience in the tops leagues around the world playing against the best opposition around. To elevate your game, you must play against worthy opponents who will push you to the limits. Take Brazil for instance. Every single one of their starting players has left the Brazilian league to compete in top European leagues. On the other hand, at least half of the US starting lineup plays in MLS, a less talented league. And those who actually do play internationally have only been doing so for a short time. How can the US team even pretend to think they have a fighting chance on the international stage? Without more experience, the US is just going to get more of the same – disappointing results.
On a brighter note, in recent times more and more US players have signed with teams overseas. With players like Benny Feilhaber and Clint Dempsey becoming more techinical, talented players, there is a shed of hope for the US national soccer team. Hopefully, they will be a shining example of how to approach one’s career and will be followed by other talented youngsters. Otherwise, the US team will never be able to compete with the Brazils and Frances of the world.
Some say that taking all of the talented, young players out of the MLS and sending them overseas is not a good idea as it prevents future growth in America. I agree that doing so will prevent growth. But my point is that if the MLS retains the young talent coming out of America, the national team will continually perform at a sub-par level. The nations that have sent their stars away from home have, in fact, suffered domestically. But they are now forces to be reckoned with. Just look at Argentina, Portugal, Holland, the Czech Republic, etc…
The choice is simple. Does America want to bolster their domestic league which may never really be supported anyways due to the popularity of other American sports, or does it want success on the international level? This is one soccer fan who would prefer to see the US finally reach their potential and make a name for itself in the upcoming world tournaments.
Nishan Wilde is VP of Sales for RobbinsSports.com, an online resource for Gym Bags,Â Portable Scoreboards, Basketball Uniforms and Stopwatches.