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PST survey: Who’s to blame for USMNT’s World Cup failure?

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The results of PST’s Big American Soccer Survey are in, and our staff will be walking through the results of thousands of votes in a series of posts this week.

We didn’t realize you could acronymize it to BASS, or else we would’ve done it sooner. So we continue BASS with one key question that is at the heart of the American soccer community right now: who is most responsible for the USMNT’s failure to make the 2018 World Cup?

We provided the following five answers in our survey.

  1. Sunil Gulati
  2. Youth development
  3. Bruce Arena
  4. Jurgen Klinsmann
  5. Other

Here’s who got the ultimate blame: Sunil Gulati with 36 percent of the vote.

Yes, it isn’t rare for the head of the organization to bare the brunt of the blame for a nation not qualifying for the World Cup but in this instance Gulati has well and truly had the blame put at his door.

It is worth noting that only 16 percent of voters blamed Bruce Arena and eight percent said it was Jurgen Klinsmann’s fault (let it go, guys).

Yet Gulati only just topped the pool ahead of an area which is the biggest issue for American soccer right now: youth development.

That doozy of a topic accounted for 31 percent of the votes and points towards a much larger debate than just a team playing poorly, or being poorly coached.

Gulati is of course responsible for hiring and firing coaches and his decision to oust Klinsmann after two games of the Hex, or even hiring him in the first place, has been severely questioned.

His decision to then bring in Arena as his replacement was ultimately the wrong one, even if, in Gulati’s words, the U.S. was “two inches wide or two inches in” from being at the World Cup after Clint Dempsey‘s late effort against Trinidad & Tobago hit the post.

“You don’t make wholesale changes based on the ball being two inches wide or two inches in,” Gulati said. “We will look at everything, obviously, with all of our programs from the national team to development. We have a lot of pieces in place that we think are very good and have been coming along. Tonight wasn’t what we hoped for.”

Well, the American soccer community does want wholesale changes.

First, they want Gulati to leave his role (which seems likely), and secondly, a wholesale change to youth development with the “pay-to-play” model continually lambasted as the root of the USA’s problems in not producing enough quality talent.

Simply put, the overwhelming majority of U.S. soccer fans believe the real reason the USMNT isn’t heading to Russia next summer is due to problems with youth development and the decisions that Gulati, the one who oversees the entire U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF), made.

Of course, Gulati is likely going to be out as USSF president in February 2018 when the presidential election is held. He has yet to declare his interest in running once again to lead the USSF after 11 years unopposed, but it is deemed highly unlikely he will run for re-election.

Should Gulati get the blame here?

The fact that he, Arena and even interim USMNT coach Dave Sarachan still believe that there isn’t much wrong with the way the U.S. is developing players right now is the biggest issue. Yes, there are some talented groups of youngsters coming through the system right now, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams proved that during the 1-1 draw with Portugal this week, but the main issue is that U.S. Soccer believes it can continue to do the same things and get different results.

That’s why Gulati must go in February and fresh ideas should be implemented to eradicate the “pay-to-play” model and allow the best players to get opportunities despite the social or economic background they’re from in the USA. End of discussion. That’s what needs to happen for the U.S. to move forward and it will be a long, arduous road ahead.

Gulati will not oversee that as he pushes on with his plans for the 2026 World Cup in the USA, Mexico and Canada, and when all is said and done, his role in the 2018 World Cup qualification debacle is clear: he should take the blame.

Time will tell if that’s the case but right now the American soccer community believes Gulati’s poor leadership was the main reason the U.S. won’t be in Russia at the World Cup next summer.

AT HALF: Lukaku, Lingard have Man Utd up at West Brom (video)

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Romelu Lukaku didn’t celebrate much more than a fist pump following his match-opening goal against former teammates West Bromwich Albion.

[ MORE: Watch via NBCSports.com).

No one said anything about celebrating teammates’ goals, though.

Lukaku scored to give the Red Devils a 1-0 lead, then watched as Jesse Lingard‘s deflected lash left Ben Foster high and dry as United cruised into the break up two goals.

It’s 10th PL goal of the season for Lukaku, who has 15 in all competitions. For Lingard, it’s four and seven.

Here’s Lingard’s marker:

Celtic’s record unbeaten run ends at 69 matches

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Celtic’s unbeaten domestic run has ended at 69 matches, and it ended with a thud.

Tynecastle Park was the scene for a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Hearts, a defeat started by a 16-year-old’s first Scottish Premiership goal.

[ REPORT: Luiz done at Chelsea? ]

Harry Cochrane’s his name, and his 26th minute goal gave Hearts the lead, and it was 2-0 by halftime through Kyle Lafferty, the ex-Burnley and Norwich player.

David Milinkovic scored three minutes after halftime, as the wake-up call didn’t arrive at the break, and added a penalty kick late in the match.

Celtic has a two-point lead on second-place Aberdeen with a match-in-hand. Rangers sit five-points back.

Sixty-nine games! Remarkable in any league. Here’s what Rodgers had to say:

“But I also want to congratulate my players. To have gone through 69 games and this to be their first defeat; of course it’s a sore one when you are beaten like that but they can hold their heads up. They have been absolutely amazing over those 18 months.”

WATCH LIVE: West Brom vs. Manchester United

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The Hawthorns is the scene as Manchester United attempts to pull back into sole possession of second place on the Premier League table with a visit to West Bromwich Albion (Watch live at 9:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Baggies have several regular starters on the bench, with Chris Brunt, Gareth Barry, and Gareth McAuley (Allllll the Gareths!) getting a rest.

United will hand starts to Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, with Anthony Martial on the bench with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

LINEUPS

West Bromwich Albion: Foster; Nyom, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs, Krychowiak, Yacob, Livermore, Burke, McClean, Rondon. Subs: Myhill, Robson-Kanu, Brunt, Barry, Rodriguez, McAuley, Field.

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young, Herrera, Matic, Mata, Lingard, Rashford, Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Lindelof, Rojo, Shaw, McTominay, Ibrahimovic, Martial.

Report: Luiz done at Chelsea, perhaps as soon as January

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A report out of England says Chelsea defender David Luiz could be out the door in January.

Luiz, 30, has a knee injury and has played in just one match for Chelsea since a Halloween loss to Roma in the Champions League, one that supposedly culminated in a blow-up between the defender and manager Antonio Conte.

He was sold once before by Chelsea, shipped to Paris Saint-Germain for $66 million in 2014 before returning to Stamford Bridge in 2016 for $45 million.

[ MAN CITY-SPURS: 3 things |  Studs and duds ]

Luiz has made just one appearance, a Nov. 22 match in Qarabag, since that Roma loss. He returned to the bench against Liverpool before being diagnosed with a knee injury.

The report says Juventus is a possible destination for Luiz, though the Champions League could be a problem for both sides. Luiz is Cup-tied to Chelsea, and Juventus remains in the UCL as well.

And Chelsea would need reinforcements at the back. It’s back three has operated with Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Gary Cahill. Other options are Antonio Rudiger and 20-year-old Jake Clarke-Salter, which would be fine were Chelsea not alive in four competitions (The League Cup quarterfinals have the Blues hosting Bournemouth on Wednesday).

The power seems a bit more in Luiz’s hands thanks to some of Conte’s sanctioned loans. Kurt Zouma has arguably been Stoke City’s most consistent performer in an under siege unit, one of 10 backs on season-long loans. The most sense is to find reconciliation, presuming the dust-up is real, and move on in the summer if necessary.