The United States men’s national soccer team turned in one of the most embarrassing performances in the nation’s history — in any sport — on Tuesday night in a 4-0 loss to Costa Rica.
Yes, it was even worse than the men’s hockey team in September’s World Cup of Hockey tournament.
Team USA has had its ups and downs under German manager Jurgen Klinsmann, but this loss to a much-inferior opponent in World Cup qualifying is by far the low point.
The Americans now are 0-2-0 with zero points in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, and Tuesday’s defeat was their worst in WC qualifying since 1957.
The World Cup is the biggest tournament for Team USA. It’s one of the few times the country rallies around men’s soccer and embraces it. For the sport to really gain traction in America, the USMNT must do well in the World Cup, and that means consistently reaching the knockout round and at least competing with the world’s best (France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, etc.)
Copa America is nice, but it’s a much-inferior tournament that doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme. The World Cup is the main prize, and now the Americans are in real danger of not even qualifying from one of the weakest qualifying groups in the world. CONCACAF is not UEFA, there aren’t several soccer powerhouses the U.S. has to defeat en route to the World Cup. It’s Mexico and that’s it. There’s no excuse for Team USA to lose, or at least lose this badly to teams like Costa Rica.
Yes, a change at manager must be made. Klinsmann must be fired. A new direction and voice is needed. Coaching is not the main issue, but when players perform worse (and in some cases, much worse) for their country than they do for their club team, coaching is a real problem.
In fact, if this were England or another soccer-crazed nation, Klinsmann would’ve been fired long ago.
But the skill level from the players also must be far better.
The mistake that led to the goal below was just inexcusable. A poor first touch and a clumsy lunge, all by the last guy back on defense, turns into a breakaway and an easy goal. This is high school-level stuff.
The U.S. had a slight edge in possession, but was out shot 15-6 with only one shot on target, compered to Costa Rica’s nine. One shot on target against an average-at-best Costa Rica team is atrocious.
Michael Bradley, a subpar midfielder who keeps getting selected to the squad despite underwhelming performances, must be the first to go. He’s preventing the midfield from playing with any creativity and attacking quality.
Luckily for the U.S., it doesn’t have another World Cup qualifying match until March, so there’s plenty of time to find a new manager, make the necessary player changes and put in a system that will produce better results.
Massive steps must be taken because this loss is one of the biggest embarrassments in U.S. sports history.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports Images