The USMNT is in ruins. Missing out on the World Cup with a loss to Trinidad & Tobago is a disaster. This is not a moment for patient reflection but decisive action.
I have heard a number of people and pundits calling the USA Men’s National Team loss to Trinidad & Tobago a “wake up call”. Even a “huge” wake up call. We are well past wake up calls. They missed all the alarms and slept through the tsunami whose flood waters just reached the edge of the mattress.
USMNT played Trinidad & Tobago away in a CONCACAF qualifying game on November 13 2015. The game was a 0-0 draw. That was the alarm. Then in March 2016 they lost – for the first time in their history – to Guatemala. Losing to the 131st ranked team in the world? Another alarm.
The US Men’s team have long presumed that World Cup qualification is a given. The weakness of the CONCACAF nations has bred a complacent and distracted national side.
I stood amazed during the 2014 World Cup when after the 2-1 loss to Belgium the media and fans zoned in on Tim Howard’s performance. He made 16 saves in that game, a record. It became a source of national pride. I went mad telling people that having to make 16 saves in a game is NOT a good thing. It means you suck. It means you can’t defend.
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The myth of Tim Howard’s brilliance was on display last night in it’s full splendor. The Trinidad & Tobago second goal was stuck from 30 yards out from a bad angle and still managed to swerve beyond Howard’s soft hand.
After poor Copa America and Gold Cup performances, this car crash has been coming for years. Yet the appointment of Bruce Arena was putting the foot on the gas rather than the brake. His outdated methods and blindness to his own weaknesses condemned this campaign from the day of his appointment.
It now needs decisive leadership – from US Soccer and then from a new head coach – to get the US team on track. The state of grassroots soccer in the US is a whole other clusterfudge. But the one helps the other. Get the USMNT right and good things will follow. This is a disaster. Time to send in the Red Cross.