2017 was a rather dark year for US Soccer, as it marked the year during which the US Men’s national team failed to qualify to the World Cup and in doing so, this marked the first time that they have failed to qualify for the World Cup since 1986, an event where anyone knowledgeable of betting opportunities would have not foreseen at all.
During the past decade, Major League Soccer teams have forked out huge sums of money to bring legends of the game such as David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta and David Villa to the States and it appears that this has not really had a major effect on the growth of the game in the country.
The qualification campaign was a total disaster for the Stars and Stripes. Considering that the amount of finances that has been invested into developing the game in the States, they really should not be losing to teams such as Trinidad and Tobago and should be qualifying for the World Cup with ease, especially as they play in the Concacaf region, which truth be told, is one of the least competitive regions in world soccer.
The US’s failure to qualify for the world cup will definitely have a major effect on the growth of the game in the country, especially considering that the nation is likely to co-host the world cup in 2026.
The world cup is the most watched event in the world and next year, when American kids tune in to watch the event, who will they have to look up to? As they will not be seeing fellow Americans in the event, chances are that some kids will believe that the sport is not for Americans and therefore not take an interest in it.
This will also impact viewership and also affect the growth of the game in the country.
As a South African, I am a huge fan of my countries cricket team and know for a fact that our national cricket team does not play in a major international event, I will be less likely to watch it and so too will most of my fellow countrymen.
Going into the final game of the Hexagonal, most people would have expected the US to still easily qualify for the World Cup, as they needed only a draw against the world’s 99th ranked team, Trinidad and Tobago. However, they ended up blowing it, going down 2-1.
One of the only positives that can be taken from this round of qualifiers was the emergence of Christian Pulisic. At just 19 years of age, Pulisic was arguably the best player for the US during the qualifiers and there were times during which it looked as if he was single handledly carrying the team.
It came as no surprise when the youngster was named as US Soccer’s male athlete of the year for 2017, a year which will go down as a dark time for US Soccer.
Pulisic, who plays his soccer for Borussia Dortmund in Germany, is one of the few American players who is highly rated by soccer pundits throughout the world and unless he loses focus, there is a good chance that he could go on to overtake the likes of Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey and become the greatest soccer player that the US has produced.
Despite the disaster of the world cup failure, it could be a blessing in disguise for US soccer. Maybe it will allow them to learn valuable lessons which will allow them to take better care of the next generation.
One of the things that they should no longer do is try and rely on older players who are past their sell-by dates. Tim Howard and DaMarcus Beasley may have contributed a lot to the growth of the game during the past decade and a half, but their performances during the qualifiers were far from impressive.
Clint Dempsey was the only veteran in the squad that actually looked decent and though it remains to be seen whether he will ever be called up for national team duty again, I do hope that he gets the one more goal that is required for him to beat Landon Donovan’s all-time record for most goals for the US Soccer team.