Why the U.S. will not be playing in the 2018 World Cup

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 will be remembered as a day that forever shapes U.S. soccer.

The shocking events of the evening will be both an acknowledgement of failure and a rallying cry for the future success of U.S. soccer. No matter what side of the argument you choose, change is coming to U.S. soccer and if they get it right the Yanks will be hoisting the World Cup trophy by 2028.

Reading the explosion of emotions on social media it only illustrates the point that this really matters and really hurts at the same time to the U.S. soccer community. As the game has grown and grown in the country it has been the younger and younger fans being drawn into fandom and missing a World Cup is something the majority of the country’s soccer fans have never experienced in their lifetime.

From 1950 to 1990 the U.S. didn’t qualify for a World Cup and the diehard fans of that era have been eclipsed several times over as the game and support of the game has reached new heights as the U.S. qualified for seven-straight World Cups from 1990-2014.


A chain of events led to this outcome

But then the events of October 10, 2017 unfolded.

Was it the waterlogged pitch in Trinidad that more closely resembled a castle moat not a soccer pitch just hours before the match? Was it the game-tying “goal” for Panama that still has not crossed the goal line versus Costa Rica? Was it the MLS stars for Honduras simply wanting it more over the Mexico “B” team across from them on the pitch that night? Was it just the perfect storm of events to forever transform U.S. soccer?

One night didn’t cause the U.S. to miss the World Cup but a chain of events over several decades all factored into this moment in time.


The mindset of the U.S. soccer community is a good place to start

The U.S. looks at these games as qualifiers when other parts of the world accurately call these elimination games.

The urgency of a qualifier mindset plagued the U.S. this entire cycle as the team seemed too comfortable and settled with results of the qualifiers.

Flip the semantics switch to an elimination cycle and this mental starting point just by name alone creates more urgency, energy, and fire in a sometimes-complacent group.


Next up is the under-riding philosophy of the U.S. soccer program

What is the identity? How is the player pool identified? Why have there been some many curious selections as of late? Is it time for a new direction and new leadership and philosophy in the program? Where are the goals in this current group of national team players?

The nation’s soccer leadership will be changing and a new regime is needed to return the game back to the people.

Has MLS been this successful in developing not only domestic soccer but CONCACAF soccer as a whole?  The stars of the night for Honduras and Panama all have MLS ties.

Costa Rica sank the U.S. earlier this fall off the foot of a San Jose Earthquake’s player and this trend will continue as more and more CONCACAF talent develops in MLS over the coming seasons.


Is the U.S. pay-to-play youth soccer system broken and simply missing the talent?

One huge takeaway from missing the World Cup has been the louder and louder voices denouncing the current U.S. soccer youth development system.

The athletes are in this country. Why aren’t more of them playing soccer at a higher and higher level?


Written by Forrest Wimberly

Follow Forrest on Twitter @ForrestWsoccer

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