US National team is back in the spotlight after gaining new talent

Max Domel, Staff Writer

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Men’s soccer has always been a culturally significant game played by lots of countries throughout the world, yet the international love and skill of the sport has never been matched in the United States. The future is promising, as younger players are improving each year.

Most American soccer fans and players think of the bigger European and South American national teams when thinking of which are the best. Those include: Argentina, France, Germany, Brazil and the North American exception of Mexico.

The U.S. Women’s National Team is one of the best women’s teams competing on an international level, most recently winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup with star players Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach. However, the Men’s National Team has never made it to a World Cup Semifinal, does not win as many games and failed to qualify for the the 2018 Men’s World Cup this past summer.

Fans are left wondering if the men’s team will ever be able to compete with top-tier teams from Europe and South America. Soccer has never been the most popular sport in the US. Most American athletes gravitate towards football, volleyball, basketball or baseball. Therefore, there are not as many soccer players in the US, which leads to less players and a lower chance of being the a successful national team. Also, coaching has been a problematic cause. Instructions and styles of play have been inconsistent. The Men’s National Team has had 36 different coaches since their formation in 1916 with more than four different coaches just in the 2000s. Three of them were in charge just in the past ten years. While it may seem normal to have many different coaches, having four different ones in the span of 18 years is definitely unique. A constant change in coaching styles disrupts the mentality and chemistry of the team and results in the process of redeveloping knowledge with lineup formations and attacking or defensive strategies.

Additionally, no U.S. Men’s National Team roster under any coach has ever won more than 75% of their games. In this case then, poor play coincides with bad coaching to create an unsuccessful history. A solution that would benefit the team’s evolution most would be to hire coaches with not just plenty experience coaching, but with experience winning big tournaments and most of their matches. More developmental academies and high quality soccer programs with professional coaching for youth players would greatly improve the teams of the future as well.

As far as tactics go, the team needs to learn how to play with intensity throughout the whole match and need to clean up general sloppiness in play. The U.S. Men’s National Team will need to make a lot of progress quickly in the next few years in order to catch up with the traditionally successful teams.
Despite the fact the Men’s National Team has not created very many chances at winning big, the newest roster featuring many younger talented players promises for possibly major success and development in the future.

On Sept. 11, 2018, the U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Mexico’s Men’s National Team 1-0 in an international friendly in Nashville, Tennessee. Usually, the predicted winner would be Mexico and previous results have supported that, but last month things changed.

The goal they scored was not a penalty, nor a cheap play, nor a deflected free kick shot. Their success came from aggressive defense, better ball movement in the middle of the field, and teamwork, eventually leading to center midfielder Tyler Adams’ first U.S. National Team goal.

Their starting lineup did not consist of any players heavily-played and well-known before the match. Only DeAndre Yedlin, Julian Green, Gyasi Zardes, and Bobby Wood could fit that category but they were substitutes and are all still young players. The youngest players who have become the talk of the country include Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga, Tim Weah and Weston McKennie. All of the above play top-tier club soccer in England, France and Germany, and have each impressed the American soccer fan base to the extent that they have become the favorites to join the future lineup.

Besides these talented players who get experience overseas, there are also many quality players who play Major League Soccer here in the US. Popularity in watching international leagues in the US has increased, but has also developed with the Major League Soccer (MLS), partially due to the league getting better players at younger ages, creating better competition and making games more exciting to watch.
These star MLS players end up being the players who get called up to play friendlies with the national team and get to show off their skills to the whole country on the most competitive basis.
For soccer fans interested in watching upcoming games, this fall the US will play England on Nov. 15 and Italy on Nov. 20, both around 2 p.m. CT.

Also, next summer the CONCACAF Gold Cup, a soccer tournament held in the U.S. for all the North and Central American countries that qualify will take place. The US won in 2017 and with an even better roster this time around they are sure to put up a good fight and be successful.
In the end, the US Men’s National Soccer Team has not been as strong in the past as most fans would have liked, but every year more and more talented younger players begin to make appearances for the team and the whole group gets stronger every time.