EDGAR ZUNIGA - Sunday, June 14, 2009
As expected, the US went into the "Monster's Cave" and got whooped like a government mule. Now, I've never seen such a thing, but it must be a very ugly thing to behold, because that's the worst the US has played in a long time.

Yeah, they lost in Saprissa 3-0 in the final hexagonal of qualifying for World Cup 2006, but, the US had already clinched their spot in the World Cup so they fielded a bunch of scrubs for that one, and Costa Rica was desperate for a win to get them to Germany.

This time, there was no excuse.

The US came into Saprissa and, from the first whistle, looked like a bunch of scolded dogs, running around with their tails between their legs. Realistically, the final score should have been 6-1. And wouldn't that have been a feather in Bob Bradley's cap?

Following the script, we saw the US return home to scratch out a gutsy win over a strong Honduran team that could have easily put the score out of reach early on. While the US should be patted on the back for pulling off that momentous comeback, a team that wants to challenge the world's elite shouldn't be sweating matches against teams viewed as minnows on the global scale.

And this is where we have to take a step back and look at the current state of the US Men's National Team.

Since Paul Caligiuri scored, arguably, the most important goal in US Soccer history, back in 1989, to send the US to Italia '90, the US National Team has become exponentially better. Some say Team USA peaked in '02. Others argue that Team USA was the victim of the Group of Death in '06.

But, let's look at the team today.

Despite success in CONCACAF, the US hasn't lived up to expectations outside the region and is far removed from FIFA's elite. Not only has Bob been unable to extract the maximum potential out of his current crop of players, the US National Team pool has proven to be actually quite shallow…wading pool shallow.

Just look at what ill-timed injuries to Maurice Edu and Frankie Hejduk did to the defense.

Total disarray.

Team USA is an injury to Landon Donovan away from disaster.

Meanwhile, Bob just stands there and blinks. He's not even getting a slap on the wrist.

Here, in the US, our soccer coaches aren't subject to the same standards, expectations and pressure as in other nations. The US Soccer Federation seems content that whoever's in charge does enough to get the team to the World Cup and maintain dominance in the little ghetto we call CONCACAF.

To the US, just getting to the World Cup is a huge deal.

To Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina, not getting to the final is seen as a catastrophe.

After the 2-2 draw in El Salvador, Bob should have been on the hot seat. After the failure in Costa Rica, he could have been shown his walking papers. But US Soccer doesn't run things that way.

Pressure? What pressure?

With all its resources, the US National Team should be aspiring for world domination. However, recent results serve as evidence to the erosion beneath the façade; the entire program actually seems to be in regression, or, at the very least, plateaued.

You don't agree?

Does anyone seriously think that the US has a legitimate shot at finishing in one of the top two spots of their group in the upcoming Confederations Cup? Italy and Brazil are as heavy as heavyweights get. And, back-to-back African champions Egypt aren't about to roll over for the CONCACAF giants.

US Soccer wants to measure itself against the world's best—prove that it can be a World Cup contender. Barring at least one monumental upset, the US will find that it's barely nipping at their heels.

What happened to that tough-as-nails, can-do attitude from the '02 team? After that amazing performance, everyone announced that the "sleeping giant" had finally woken…only for it to stretch its arms, blink a bit, then roll over and go back to sleep.

Not only is the US far from expectations, the current team is beneath the '02 squad.

Quick: name one US field player that can truly be deemed as world-class.


You'd think that after '02, one of those young players would have developed into a world-class player. DaMarcus Beasley? Nope. Clint Mathis? Try again. Landon Donovan? Not really.

Maybe, one day, Jozy Altidore will reach that point. However, he has been almost invisible in the recent matches against Costa Rica and Honduras. Will his existence even be acknowledged against Italy, Brazil or Egypt?

Is it too much to ask the US to do well in the Confederations Cup, or should we just be content for this opportunity at a dress rehearsal for next year's World Cup?

US Soccer fans should demand more. They deserve more.

You want to say that your team can compete with the world's best and you want that team to at least put forth that effort. But, more often that not, you get Europeans or South Americans snickering in your face and pooh-poohing our team.

The worst part is that the grip the US has on CONCACAF is a tenuous one at best.

Hopefully, the matches against Costa Rica and Honduras will slap some life into the National Team and revive that gritty attitude that has propelled the team to victories over stronger foes. With the upcoming Confederation Cup matches against Italy and Brazil, the US will have an opportunity to inject some confidence into a faltering program.

Even if they lose, if they could at least show some grit and determination, it will be enough to rekindle that fighting spirit.

Nevertheless, someone has to light a fire under Bob to produce better results from his players. Maybe he lacks the ambition or vision to take this team to a higher ground. Then, the question begs to be asked: Will US Soccer turn to a coach with serious international experience?

Jurgen Klinsmann recently joined the ranks of the unemployed. Maybe the suits at US Soccer are considering making him another pitch to take the reins of the National Team. That could be a way of letting Bob know that he needs to step up the ante or get the axe.

With a very busy summer, the US players will be spending a lot of time together. If they can't gel during this time, then it's obvious that a change needs to be made, or the US will suffer the same fate as Mexico, which slept on its laurels, fell on its face and is now choking a on a huge slice of dirt cake.
Charlie Mathews
Sunday June 21, 2009 12:52 pm
Edgar's article and most of the comments are contradicting. You can't complain about Bradley and further state the US has no world class players. Is it Bradley's fault that America's best athletes choose other sports or other sports choose the best athletes at an early age? US Soccer will continue to be mediocre until this country's best athletes choose soccer over the other options they have as youth. There may be a reason the US doesn't attract a world class coach, that coach doesn't see a real good opportunity with the crop of players America is producing.
Saturday June 20, 2009 10:56 am
World Class player = A player with the ability to play, start and STAR for the best clubs in the worlds best leagues (Man U., Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, R. Madrid, Barca, B. Munich, Juve, Inter, AC Milan, Roma, Fiorintina, Lyon, Marseille, Bourdeaux, Ajax, PSV, Porto, Benfica, Sporting, Rangers, Celtic, Fenerbache, Galatasaray, Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, etc., along with the handful of top clubs in Brazil and Argentina), and the US has nary a one (perhaps Howard, but I'm talking about outfield players here.)
C. Reyna years ago for Rangers; maybe.
Beasley for PSV for one season (14 club goals); almost.
Other than that, NOPE.
And there's currently nobody, with the exception (maybe) of Altidore that has the potential to change that fact (first, he needs to stop flopping around like a fish on the pitch though.)
And until we get better athlete's playing the game as a youth, and staying with it till adulthood, all the money and all the coaching and all the training in the world isn't gonna change a thing.
We've come a long way in 20 years, but we have that much further (and more) to go before we become a true force in football.
It really is that simple, isn't it?
Saturday June 20, 2009 10:15 am
Cardillo has it right....since 2002, we're missing Reyna and McBride. Especially Reyna. Sounds like heresy, but we may not be that far away from being a more consistent team - try Feilhaber, Torres, Adu, please. With Germaine Jones in the mix it may solidify the whole team and make everyone that much better - let's hope so, or we're 3 and out at WC2010
Saturday June 20, 2009 9:56 am
Bob Bradley is no world beater of a manager, but;
the US has not one outfield player who would make either Italy's or Brazil's roster, whereas every single Italian or Brazilian outfield player would not only make the US's first 23, but would automatically become our BEST player.
What part of that don't people get!
Thursday June 18, 2009 6:18 pm
Hey listen, the author of this article eloquently stated what the rest of the US soccer media has not had the balls to say yet, but I'll take it a step further.

For me, Bob has been on the hot seat ever since they made him interim manager of the team. They gave him a chance, but just what has he done to earn/keep his job title? No one knows.

Let's play a game. What if Donald Trump (or any other successful business-person) was the ruler of USSF? What would be his first move? I think he would spend the money and hire a proven coach from Europe or South America. A splashy move with grand results as the goal. You can bet that if any signs of failure surfaced they would be dealt with immediately. But USSF drags their feet and run a poor business. Are changes on the horizon? No one knows.

But who is exactly is Sunil Gulati and why is he given his free reign to rule the USSF no matter how the results turn out? No one knows. No one knows!

To sum up USSF from the top down? Mediocrity. Let Bradley go. Let Gulati go. Enough is enough.
Thursday June 18, 2009 5:53 pm
A bunch of embarrassing performances!

Bradley has got to go!
Jason Frerichs
Wednesday June 17, 2009 12:37 pm
I'm almost at the point now where I hope the US falls flat on its face and doesn't qualify for the world cup. It would force some people to ask the tough questions and do something to get this program moving forward again. Let's get a real coach. I'd love it if we got Leo Beenhakker. He already is familiar with concacaf and the US having coached Club America in Mexico, and T&T's national team.
Tuesday June 16, 2009 1:37 pm
In response to Josh....

A couple of season's ago Newcastle acquired Onyewu on loan to help with one of the worst defences in the Premier League. He didn't start much and they didn't make the move permanent. That should tell you something.

Recent quote about sacked Bayern manager Klinsmann: "Klinsmann's only idea for strengthening the sqaud in January was Landon Donovan," said Uli Hoeness. "Hermann Gerland [the youth team coach] told me the guy wasn't fit to play for his reserves."

When he says "fit" he is not talking about his physical fitness.
Tuesday June 16, 2009 1:34 pm
In STRONG support of Klinnsmann to coach the USA. I cannot think of a single other person for the job.

About Bradley, I don't think that he has to show heart or passion on his face to be a great coach. But no coach should tolerate the low level of playing, passing, attacking, and defending that the US has shown in the last year. Also, the coach should put more pressure on the US Soccer Assn to do more to give the US team a chance on the top levels. Our preparation is inadequate.

Recruit Klinnsmann and give him five years at least to build our squad and our overall program.
Tuesday June 16, 2009 12:37 pm
"World Class Player" should be defined as a player who is a "target" for the top teams from the Big 4 league. You can be "World Class" and not play at a Chelsea, Man Utd, or Real Madrid, but "World Class Players" are always being tracked and bid for by those top teams.

That would leave me to believe the only truly "World Class Player" on the U.S. roster is Tim Howard. With someone like Jozy developing into one.
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