This US elimination was just one that had a great deal of sting to it.
Such was the effect that the mainstream media in the United States, a collective group that made the national team job here the cushiest in the world because of their disinterest, awaken.
On my drive to work the day after, I listened to sports talk radio and a local host was shocked at the fact that the US weren't going to the Olympics in London.
"Damn, the US got eliminated and aren't going to the Olympics. Hey didn't we just hire Jürgen Klinsmann?"
The mainstream media made a half-hearted attempt at criticizing the Huntington Beach resident. Let's give them credit, although they swing wildly like a blindfolded seven-year-old at a piñata, they did wake up lots of people. In other words, any residue of honeymoon with Die Mannschafft's former boss is officially done.
US Soccer's trend has not been the most favorable in the past nine months. The elimination of the US this past Monday compounded a trend that we will take into effect seeing their senior side's performance at the Gold Cup, especially their match against Mexico. Also take into acount that the members of the U-20 side were watching the Youth World Cup from their homes as Brazil would end up on top of the world again.
I was never a big Klinsmann fan as a coach. In my humble opinion it was Joachim Löw the one that was pulling all the strings and making things happen while Jürgen sold and pitched and led the cheers. Let's be honest, there is no Jogi Löw on his current staff. I digress, in the end his coaching resume can speak more volumes that my goalkeeping coach experience.
We could even go to the World Cup in 2010 where they seemed to play from behind but had the mental fortitude to climb back into matches and get a result that took them as far as they did.
Many are going to say that some of those results have to be traced back to the Arena/Bradley days. Yes, you are right. Yet we see that like in the poliical grudge matches we see today, problems aren't just created- they are inherited. We haven't seen a significant improvement in the national team under Klinsmann, althought it's very tough to gauge when there haven't been important matches and there has been a revolving door of players that have come about during this new era that are being discovered, rediscovered or just familiarizing themselves with the new settings. That is completely acceptable to do, although there is one caveat in doing so.
This indecision on how to play this "New American Style" is rather confusing- for the players. It stil is confusing as to see what it is exactly. That all comes down to coaching. The US youngsters looked lost at times and did not do some of the most basic things in the game. They resorted to some of the more rudimentary English ball having defenders knock the ball down the park for one player to then put it into middle for someone to knock it into the back of the net.
There was no doubt that Caleb Porter was outcoached when he had to step up his game the most. It was a humbling lesson as to how far behind the college game is compared to even the younger players in several nations. College soccer, which is only played four months out of the year is a place where most players spend four years without truly evolving. Porter also believed that the team was good enough on paper to just cruise through and there was no need for adjustments. In others words, he prepared the team the same way he would prepare Dayton for a match against North Carolina or any other top college side. What he didn't realize is that even at the CONCACAF level, college teams and coaches are not as tactically savvy or techincally capable of doing things that players like Jaime Alas or even Randy Edwini-Bonsu could do. In college players become bigger, faster and better athletes; but they do not become better players. It is still very similar to college football that soccer teams at that level train. They still look for guys that can run fast, jump high and have power. They are still not developing players with vision, technique or even football intelligence. The few that do arrive with those qualities are quickly whipped into "college mode". That, along with the illogical NCAA rules, have college players behind the eight-ball compared to the rest of the world.
I honestly don't think that the problem was just the players. The problem was the coaching and its inability to plan ahead or even adjust on the fly. There was little shown outside of a Plan A without consideration for that always feared X factor- the unexpected.
The players that shone the most are the ones that do get some great coaching outside of the US and were not part of the college process. Of course, the one that we have to start with is none other than Terrence Boyd. The Dortmund youngster has been able to evolve a great deal under Jürgen Klopp and David Wagner (who played alongside Thomas Dooley in his days at Schalke). Joe Benny Corona also has former Argentine playmaker Antonio Mohamed as a resource on how to play the game.
Klinsmann the coach has a different approach than Klinsmann the lobbier. I remember soon after the US were eliminated at the hands of Ghana he talked about a major change being needed within US Soccer. I remember him talking about how the game needed to reach the more urban settings in order to maximize the potential of the US talent pool. That breeze of change truly was lost as the structure still remains the same.
Let's be honest, some of the best talent in the US is not in their super select sides where only suburban kids with lots of money or a trust fund can even partake in it. There could be a potential US international in several parks and adult leagues right now, yet they will live in US Soccer's obscurity because they can never be in the right places. I will leave that one simmering for the time being.
I has the pleasure of interviewing former Chilean Fed president Harold Mayne- Nicholls and he told me that the US will emerge as a top side when they decide what US Soccer's identity is. It will change when they decide that they want to be "recreational or competitive". As we can see, there is still a bit of indecision as to how to take the next step, but there are still lots more questions than answers.
Oh, the growing pains of US Soccer once again proving that all that has gone wrong are not a separate occurences. It is starting to emerge as a culture that might be developing in a trickle-down motion.
HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU ALL REGARDING WHAT YOU THINK...