Why The 2018 World Cup Title Game Can Be a Realistic USMNT Goal


After a dismal end to 2014 for the USMNT, the fans were hoping for a much better start to 2015. Blowing a 2-1 lead to lose 3-2 to a domestic Chilean squad was not the start we were looking for. The decision by Klinsmann to run a 3-5-2 formation was at first very controversial, but what most people don’t realize is that it worked for the most post. This fact is one of the reasons why I believe that the 2018 World Cup semifinal/final is a realistic target for the USMNT. It is extremely plausible that the USA can make the semifinal or final of the 2018 World Cup, as well as two major things that need to be improved upon.

1. USMNT can gel with 3-5-2 formation

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During the game in Chile, the 3-5-2 was working for us. DeAndre Yedlin and Brek Shea on the wings were making runs and playing piercing balls, eventually leading to our teams only two goals. One was from Shea making a run and finding the back of the net himself, and the other from Yedlin playing it in to Mix Diskerud, who found Jozy Altidore. He then buried the shot to put the USA up 2-1. It was only when we switched to our signature 4-4-2 diamond that we started falling apart.

As well as the 3-5-2 was working for us, there are some clear kinks that need to be worked out. One thing that needs to be improved on is position discipline. On multiple occasions throughout that game, Jermaine Jones pushed up and joined the attack, leaving the other two center backs to deal with a pacy Chilean counter attack all on their own. Had Jones stayed in his position, the team may have been less susceptible to a counter attack and may concede less goals in general. If the center backs in the 3-5-2 stay in position, the team can definitely use this formation to its full potential.

2. Mixture of youth and experience

Come 2018, the players on the team now that are in their teens and lower 20s will be in their low to mid 20s, just reaching the prime of their playing careers. Not to mention that there is a chance that Gedion Zelalem will be eligible to play, which would be a great addition to our team. Currently, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Also in 2018, players like Altidore, Bradley, Beseler, Jones and Hamid will be in their prime, and can provide some great experience for the younger talent to build off of. This will be very good for our team, because the experienced players will still be able to perform to their full potential, while disciplining the younger players and helping them play to their full potentials.

One thing that we have working against us in 2018 is that Clint Dempsey will be retired by then, as he announced he will be retiring after the 2016 Copa America. Chris Wondolowski will also be 36 by 2018, so there is a good chance he’ll be retiring too. I’m not too worried about that though, seeing as it can be said that he single-handedly cost us a chance to make the quarterfinal in 2014 World Cup when he missed a short range open goal chance in the 93rd against Belgium.

Another thing that is not too great is that Tim Howard and Nick Rimando will both be 39, so one or both of them may not be on the roster. Yet, USMNT still has goalkeeper talent in Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid.

The second thing that needs to be improved on is the USMNT’s lack of match fitness. Most games that the team plays, it can be observed that toward the end of the game the team looks visibly tuckered out and that’s when they start letting goals in. If the USA wants to make it any further in 2018 than they did in 2014, then they’re going to need to improve their match fitness. Maybe instead of focusing entire practice sessions on working out the 3-5-2, they can spend half the time doing that and the other time building up their stamina, so they don’t get tired by the 65th minute.

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  • 3. Young talent

    The last reason that I think the USMNT can do very well in the 2018 World Cup is our young talent. Our U-20 team just qualified for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup. This bodes very well for the senior team, showing that US soccer has a lot of young talent coming up through the system. We also have a lot of young talent on the senior team. DeAndre Yedlin, Brek Shea, Steve Birnbaum, Bill Hamid, Bobby Wood, and Mix Diskerud are all examples of players who have played well for the senior team, and who are the youth of the squad. Again, I also have to bring up the possibility of Gedion Zelalem being eligible, and only being 18. Granted he’ll only play in the near future if the US Soccer Federation can get an exemption from FIFA. Otherwise, he will have to wait five years.

    The USMNT has a bright future ahead and 2015 will be filled with many moments to prove that.

    Next: USL PRO Schedule Conclusions

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