The United States failed in a major way on Tuesday, and that’s still somehow sugarcoating its 2-1 loss in Trinidad and Tobago.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Americans will not be plying their trade at a World Cup.
Bruce Arena, you played yourself
The USMNT manager preached squad rotation last month in an embarrassing two-match stretch that saw the Americans take just one point.
So what does he do following an exceptionally emotional 4-0 home win over Panama? Puts the same exact lineup out there.
The Yanks looked dazed and listless for the most part, aside from Jozy Altidore dropping deep into the midfield to help, well, whoever else was supposed to be there with Michael Bradley and some hard running from Paul Arriola and DeAndre Yedlin (I believe Jorge Villafana had a tackle in there, too).
Arena then doubled down on his domestic philosophy bringing on Clint Dempsey, Kellyn Acosta, and Benny Feilhaber as substitutes. Premier League mainstay Geoff Cameron was left on the bench for 180 minutes. Nevermind leaving international caliber players like Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler, and even Danny Williams in the wilderness.
Adding to the embarrassment were Arena’s postgame comments, in which he seemed to imply he had better players he would’ve used in the future.
“If we had qualified for the World Cup, there needed to be a number of changes for the World Cup roster.”
In its hour of need, U.S. Soccer turned to its domestic heroes. And they failed.
But so did the players
Find a player who stood out on Tuesday.
I’m still waiting.
Yes, Pulisic scored a great goal. And both DeAndre Yedlin, Jozy Altidore, and Bobby Wood ran their socks off. Clint Dempsey provided an injection of fury and hit the post as a substitute.
But they needed far more than that and, as they had in every road Hex match and several home ones, showed an entitlement and lack of urgency that belied their status as the third- and later fifth-place team in CONCACAF.
Michael Bradley will probably not play at another World Cup. USMNT legends Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, and Geoff Cameron almost certainly will not.
And the guys Arena did use?
“Our center backs were not confident with the ball, and really we were playing eight against 10 in the first half. Our forwards were not able to hold the ball. We didn’t get Pulisic into the game. We played poorly.”
To be fair, it wasn’t both center backs, rather Omar Gonzalez. Arena’s former LA Galaxy charge scored an own goal and nearly gave a penalty kick away moments later.
Overhaul or nothing
This one is short and sweet: Arena was almost certainly not going to manage beyond the World Cup in Russia, but powerful president Sunil Gulati was almost certain to go onward. I’m not sure there are enough American Outlaws and moneymen on Earth to back that move now.