On Tuesday night, Oct. 10th, a country of just over one million beat a soccer team that contained a population of 350 million. If you’re late to the party, USA’s rocky campaign in the 2018 World Cup Qualifier hit rock bottom as USA was officially eliminated from Russia 2018.
I’ve actually warned people about this since 2012, the year I started to closely follow soccer. World Cup Qualifying is not a population game. It never has been. Think of the strong soccer teams that consistently make it to the World Cup, most are not in the Top 10 population in the wor
ld, like Germany, France, Spain, Netherlands, and Argentina.
Now, think of the biggest countries in the world, most of those countries don’t get to the World Cup. In fact, the Top 4 countries in the world: China, India, USA, and Indonesia all didn’t qualify for the World Cup.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, really, USA has one of the most overrated soccer teams in the world. They feed off of home points because Central American teams are below average. Think back to the 2014 Semifinal stage, the final game against Guatemala at home, a loss by Team USA would have eliminated them at the time.
We can say USA is underachieving all we want, but the truth of the matter is that USA’s team isn’t built properly. The average soccer fan complains about how below average the MLS is, yet 16 players from the USA squad play in the MLS. This is basically saying that the USA squad with a few exceptions is an MLS All-Star team. USA soccer fans can’t have it both ways because the last two points contradict themselves.
USA didn’t qualify because the rest of CONCACAF is getting better. USA needed a reality check and they got it on Tuesday night. The States needs better preparation for World Cup Qualifying and it starts with the MLS. There are way too many international players playing in the league. If we want to compare numbers with other low leagues in Europe, then having a diverse league is just benefiting other countries.
If an alteration in American soccer happens, then I would suggest eliminating the MLS Cup and adding relegation. This would scare some teams but would benefit the stars who would be playing in crucial games, whereas other players would be under pressure trying to save their club from going down.
Lastly, the Gold Cup needs to be a stronger competition by inviting teams like Peru and Iceland to play in the event. It needs to take a page out of the playbook of the Euro 2020, which forces all countries to play in various stadiums across Europe. This move is essential for the USA seems way too comfortable playing at home and way too uncomfortable on the road.
Playing in Central America is a big obstacle to overcome, though. Nonetheless, the US Men’s National team needs to seek out a more formidable schedule overseas. While the resignation of head coach Bruce Arena may spark change in this movement, this doesn’t necessarily cement USA’s plans moving forward.