Clint Dempsey

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MLS Snapshot: Sounders get much-needed win over reeling FCD

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The game in 100 words (or less): FC Dallas’ epic collapse is so nearly complete, if only Real Salt Lake or the San Jose Earthquakes could capitalize and boot Oscar Pareja’s side from the playoff places. Fortunately for the Hoops, while they were busy taking a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of the defending champion Seattle Sounders, RSL and San Jose each dropped points (all three for RSL; two for the Quakes). Heading into the final week of the regular season, FCD’s fate is no longer in their own hands, as they currently sit seventh in the Western Conference, behind San Jose on wins. Seattle, meanwhile, have moved into third, a point ahead of Sporting Kansas City and behind the Portland Timbers on wins. Victor Rodriguez, Will Bruin (twice) and Lamar Neagle did the damage on Sunday, helping Seattle end a poor run of results (just one win in seven games) as their 13-game unbeaten run (from June to September) became a distant memory.

[ MORE: MLS at Week 33 — all about playoff places, positioning ]

Three moments that mattered

31′ — Rodriguez slots past Gonzalez to make it 1-0 — Assist by Clint Dempsey, textbook finish by Rodriguez.

64′ — Bruin pokes home a rebound for 2-0 — Dempsey’s shot was saved by Gonzalez, but he couldn’t hold onto it and Bruin pounced quickly.

67′ — Bruin slots home after a terrible giveaway — Matt Hedges needs it to be the offseason… like, three months ago.

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Man of the match: Will Bruin

Goalscorers: Rodriguez (31′), Bruin (64′, 67′), Neagle (90+2′)

What could USMNT look like for November friendlies?

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Bruce Arena is out, and the United States men’s national team could look very different the next time a ball is kicked by the men in red, white, and blue.

Tab Ramos is expected to take over on an interim basis, or at least be the prime candidate, before the Yanks play November friendlies in Europe next month (President Sunil Gulati said one is confirmed, and the second should be overseas).

[ VIDEO: Jermaine Jones’ fiery USMNT diatribe ]

Those will be the first of many friendlies, as the U.S. is not scheduled to play serious competitions until the Copa America and Gold Cup in the Summer of 2019. That’s what happens when you miss a World Cup, something that American soccer hasn’t experienced since the mid-1980s.

The U.S. could assemble a summer tournament this summer, but the twin tourneys in 2019 mean it has plenty of time to experiment seriously in search of a huge depth pool needed for a wild couple months.

That Gold Cup will be an important ask of the team’s depth, too, and it will be interesting to see how a new manager prioritizes his roster considering a title is needed to clinch a place in the 2021 Confederations Cup and avoid another CONCACAF Cup playoff.

Considering the wealth of promising domestic and overseas U-20 prospects and the fact that the United States has used more than 75 players in recent history, just about anything is possible for Ramos (or whoever takes over).

November’s call-ups are especially tricky. For one thing, they are in Europe and could be against very good competition as sides angle for form before the World Cup. Expect it to be heavily-based in overseas players and a sprinkling of MLS players who have been eliminated from the postseason.

The second legs of the MLS Conference semifinals will be held Nov. 5, one day before the international break. While we suppose Toronto FC leaders Michael Bradley or Jozy Altidore could set some sort of standard by demanding to be part of the phoenix rising from these disastrous Hex ashes, but it’s almost certain the following USMNT mainstays will have played in those Nov. 5 matches and will not be heading to Europe: Bradley, Altidore, Matt Besler, and Graham Zusi. Based on current seeding, the Americans will also be without Clint Dempsey, Dax McCarty, and Darlington Nagbe.

Bobby Wood (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

It seems likely guys like Christian Pulisic and Geoff Cameron will get a break, though there could also be “farewells” for some of the old guard (this seems more of a January thing given the MLS Playoffs).

We imagine guys like Alejandro Bedoya, Tim Ream, and Bobby Wood are going to be called in to help show guys the ropes

Hopefully, young Schalke star Weston McKennie is back from his thigh injury and fit for 90. Might U-17 and U-20 World Cup star Josh Sargent get a chance to dip his toes into an international break?

We’ll let you build you lineups from this corps, also expecting some surprises, and we’ll probably wind up going down a rabbit hole to build some of our own.

Who are we missing? Hit us up with your names, thoughts, and XIs in the comment section.


MLS-based, will miss playoffs, called up in October: Tim Howard, Alejandro Bedoya, Paul Arriola, Gyasi Zardes.

MLS-based, will miss playoffs, called up in last year: Bill Hamid, Joe Bendik, Brian Rowe, Steve Birnbaum, Jonathan Spector, Taylor Kemp, Keegan Roseberry, Chris Pontius, Kelyn Rowe, Jermaine Jones, Juan Agudelo, Dom Dwyer, CJ Sapong, Alan Gordon.

Europe- or Mexico-based, called up in October: Bobby Wood, DeAndre Yedlin, Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream, Jorge Villafana, Geoff Cameron, Christian Pulisic, Michael Orozco.

Europe- or Mexico-based, called up in last year: Ethan Horvath, William Yarbrough, Eric Lichaj, Matt Miazga, John Brooks (injured), Timothy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Joe Corona, Kenny Saief (injured), Lynden Gooch, Julian Green, Caleb Stanko, Aron Johannsson.

MLS-based, will miss playoffs, not called up in last year: Christian Ramirez, Miguel Ibarra, Lee Nguyen, Ethan Finlay, Tommy Redding, Patrick Mullins, Russell Canouse, Derrick Jones, Andrew Farrell, Kyle Fisher, Chris Tierney.

Europe- or Mexico-based, not called up in last year: Danny Williams, Terrence Boyd, Mix Diskerud, Emerson Hyndman, Perry Kitchen, Alfredo Morales, Antonee Robinson.

Top U.S. youth prospects: Weston McKennie, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Josh Sargent, Jonathan Gonzalez, Haji Wright.

Top U.S. youth prospects, could have MLS playoffs:  Justen Glad, Erik Palmer-Brown, Tyler Adams, Brooks Lennon, Jonathan Lewis, Jesse Gonzalez.


Some far-fetched potential lineups (Remember – Anything is possible):

Serious Future XI

Horvath

 Carter-Vickers – Cameron – Miazga

Yedlin – Williams – McKennie – Pulisic

Arriola – Wood – Gooch

All-Europe XI

Horvath

Yedlin – Carter-Vickers – Miazga – Villafana

Chandler – Williams – McKennie – Pulisic

Wood – Johannsson

(Mostly) Farewell Tour XI

Howard

 Lichaj – Cameron – Ream – Beasley

Arriola – Williams – Bedoya – Johnson

Wondolowski – Wood

Few to no caps XI

Horvath

Farrell – Miazga – Carter-Vickers – Tierney

Rowe – Gonzalez – Morales – McKennie – Gooch

Ramirez

Geoff Cameron’s bizarre USMNT omission explained

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Many of you will still be scratching your heads as to why a fully-fit Geoff Cameron flew over 4,000 miles to be an unused sub for the U.S. national team over the past week.

Here are some answers.

Despite playing a full 90 minutes for Stoke City against Southampton before the international break, U.S.defender Cameron did not play a single second for the USMNT as they crashed out of the 2018 World Cup.

Why?

Pro Soccer Talk understands that Cameron, 32, held talks with Bruce Arena at the start of the international break where he was told he was not fit enough to play and Omar Gonzalez would be playing ahead of him. End of discussion.

[ MORE: Was is impact of USA missing the World Cup? ] 

Cameron was, understandably, frustrated with the decision after working his way back to full fitness (after two weeks out with a hamstring injury he suffered against Manchester United in mid-September) and proving his sharpness for Stoke in the Premier League.

Asked for a comment by Pro Soccer Talk, Cameron didn’t want to get too involved in the debate over why he wasn’t used by Arena: “This is not the time for me to get involved in this discussion. It is for someone else to explain why.”

No other center back in the current U.S. squad had more caps than Cameron heading into the last international break and his experience could have made a huge difference.

Shown on TV sitting off to the side of the U.S. bench next to drinks cooler at the archaic Ato Boldon Stadium as the USA’s World Cup hopes faded late on against Trinidad and Tobago, Cameron’s blank expression said it all. He was resigned to watching on in the USMNT’s moment of need.

The former Houston Dynamo star is said to have accepted the decision but it remains a bizarre one. Particularly when analyzed after the fact that Gonzalez scored a horrendous own goal in the defeat at T&T, plus the U.S. defense was generally shaky in both of their final two CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

[ MORE: Latest USMNT news

Arena could have brought in Cameron in place of Gonzalez (who played for Arena at the LA Galaxy in their 2011, 2012 and 2014 MLS Cup winning teams) or even gone with three at the back at T&T in the Hex finale where a point would have been enough to take them through to the World Cup.

Pro Soccer Talk understands the squad has since questioned the tactics from the manager to go gung-ho with the same starting lineup just four days after beating Panama in a draining must-win situation in Orlando. Playing a diamond in midfield and not giving Michael Bradley extra help to protect a shaky back four is also said to have particularly frustrated several members of the USMNT.

When it comes to Cameron’s omission, this is all rather confusing.

Before the international break had even started, and Cameron had even got back on the pitch for Stoke City, Arena confirmed the center back would be in his squad for the crucial games no matter what.

Arena then made a point of calling out his two center backs against T&T, Gonzalez and Matt Besler, in his most specific criticism of the team shortly after their shocking defeat.

“Our center backs were not confident enough with the ball, and often in the first half we were really playing eight against 10 because we needed to carry the ball and bring a player to the ball and move it a little bit quicker,” Arena said.

Cameron is, no doubt, the USA’s best ball-playing defender. Composure on the ball is what he is know for.

So much so that he often excels in central midfield for Stoke City and did so markedly at the end of last season where he won several Man of the Match awards against Chelsea and Liverpool in home games for the Potters. Of outfield USMNT players, only Clint Dempsey has played in more Premier League games all-time than Cameron and he signed a new deal with Stoke last May as he’s now in his sixth-season with the club and hugely valued by Mark Hughes and the Potters’ fans.

There is no doubt Cameron has had some tough times for the U.S. with his display alongside Tim Ream in the USA’s defeat to Costa Rica in September heavily criticized, even if his own mistake came late in the game with the match already lost, but he did come off the bench and played a big part in the U.S. grabbing a point at Honduras a few days later to prove that the Costa Rica performance was just a blip.

He has also put in sublime defensive performances for the U.S. in recent years with one of the best-ever displays from a U.S. player at the Estadio Azteca back in the summer as he held the USMNT’s defense together as they clinched a point at Mexico in a World Cup qualifier. Not to mention his display, and goal, in the 2015 CONCACAF Cup for a spot at the Confederations Cup and his rock-solid partnership with John Brooks in the USA’s run to the 2016 Copa America Centernario semifinals.

All of this adds up to why serious questions should be asked about Arena not starting one of his key players in the USA’s biggest two games of the past three years.

Will Cameron suit up for the USMNT again?

It remains to be seen what lies in store for him and many other U.S. national team veterans such as Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard but the road appears to be coming to an end for most. A friendly game on home soil could perhaps be scheduled next month during the November international break for them to say farewell as they retire from international duty.

As we continue to dissect the decisions on the pitch which cost the U.S. a World Cup spot for the first time since 1986, Arena’s bizarre decision to omit Cameron will be seen as one of the key reasons they didn’t make it to Russia 2018.

A growing sense of entitlement in U.S. soccer culture, which needs to stop

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Not even 24 hours removed from one of the darkest days in recent U.S. Men’s National team history, and while many sensible supporters recognize the deep-lying issues amongst the American soccer culture a resounding theme for others has been quite the contrary.

Just a word of advice, which is nothing groundbreaking on my end.

[ MORE: U.S. Soccer community reacts to World Cup exclusion ]

Avoid Twitter and other social media platforms at all costs after a brutal loss, like the one we all witnessed on Tuesday night. It only causes emotional distress for all parties involved.

While reading through my Twitter timeline — which is the exact opposite thing I should have been doing — the sentiments popping up, for the most part, were what I fully expected. It was one of disappointment, anger and a little nausea.

However, others in the U.S. soccer community began writing about how the USMNT deserves to be in Russia next summer more so than Panama or Honduras and in an even more comical twist that President Donald Trump is at fault for the Americans’ shortcomings.

I’m certainly not naive enough to believe either of those two sentiments personally, however, it’s become quite clear that the former argument is a resounding theme in the minds of many in the American soccer community.

Over the years there has become a growing sense of entitlement amongst U.S. supporters, and to some degree it’s understandable. The 2018 World Cup cycle will be the first time the Americans haven’t reached the game’s biggest tournament since 1986.

To put that into perspective, 1986 saw Ronald Reagan as president of the United States, Mike Tyson won his first boxing world title and college basketball adopted the three-point line.

Simply put, it’s a long time.

In fact, prior to next summer’s tournament, the USMNT had qualified for seven consecutive trips to the World Cup — which was actually a longer run than Mexico. El Tri were banned from the competition in 1990 for fielding ineligible players during the lead up to the competition.

Does that honestly mean that the World Cup is some sort of right of passage for the Americans though? Because it shouldn’t be.

Yes, the U.S. has made countless strides throughout the years to enhance its standing and perception within the global soccer community, but this is also the classic case of “what have you done for me lately?”

Like other sports and areas of life, it’s about what you earn instead of what you’ve been handed out. It’s absolutely absurd to honestly state that past performances should dictate whether or not the USMNT should be playing in Russia next year.

This team simply wasn’t good enough to qualify, and over 10 matches during the Hexagonal, that truth came bursting out.

Veteran players like Michael Bradley, Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey obviously have played massive roles in the past for the USMNT, and deserve credit for their service, but those three and the rest of the squad know that they needed to be better on Tuesday and throughout their qualifying campaign.

That’s not a knock on just the players though. The word “systemic” has been brought up for some time now, and that’s referring to the broader issues within U.S. Soccer that go above and beyond simply the selection of players.

To use another example, look at Brazil at the last World Cup. The Selecao are a perennial power in soccer, and have been for decades. The Brazilians were handed a humbling for the ages by Germany in the semifinals, before being thumped by Holland once again in the third-place match in front of their home crowd.

[ MORE: A way-too-early look at what’s next for the USMNT ]

For most countries, reaching the semifinal at the World Cup would be a massive accomplishment, but not for Brazil or any other top soccer-playing nation.

The USMNT has had its humbling experience, and as Ian Darke said so eloquently worded on Tuesday, the “USA did not earn it.”

They’ve got to bounce back and prepare itself better for the future after the incumbent changes occur in the coming days and weeks.

In the words of a popular children’s book, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit!”

What does World Cup failure mean for soccer in the USA?

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The U.S. national team failing to reach the 2018 World Cup means so much more than not seeing the Stars and Stripes in Russia next summer.

[ MORE: Where did it all go wrong? ]

Let’s not beat about the bush here. Not qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in 32 years is a massive embarrassment for the USMNT, especially when it came down to getting one point against a weakened Trinidad and Tobago side to seal qualification.

They should have never been in this position in the first place.

With this group of players and the opponents they faced in World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region, there is no excuse for not finishing at least in the top three teams in the Hex.

[ MORE: 3 things | Player ratings ] 

Aside from the immediate issues to sort out regarding the future of several veteran players (Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Geoff Cameron and others) and that of the coach Bruce Arena and U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) president Sunil Gulati, there is a huge secondary impact from not having the U.S. at the World Cup.

Next summer youngsters and casual soccer or sports fans in the U.S. will simply pay less attention to the games in Russia. That’s bad news for every single part of the soccer industry in the USA.

But U.S. fans will keep supporting their team. European clubs will not stop coming to the U.S. for preseason tours. Overseas stars will not be put off joining Major League Soccer . Fans will still watch the game at every level. But now a key catalyst to increase interest levels, which had arrived every four years for nearly three decades, has been lost and patience with the people running U.S. Soccer has run out.

Believing the U.S. not making a World Cup will have anything other than a negative impact on the short-term future of the game in the USA is pure naivety.

It is hard to quantify just how much money will be lost to the U.S. economy, and to U.S. Soccer, through their failure to not qualify but we can assume there will be many millions of dollars not spent on promoting the USMNT and the tournament as a whole. This is all down to the USA’s defeat at Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday and their dreadful qualifying campaign over the past 12 months.

For the team itself, a whole generation of U.S. youngsters will now not have the experience of playing at a World Cup under their belt by the time the 2022 tournament in Qatar rolls around. Christian Pulisic will not play at a World Cup until he is edging towards 24.

Think about that.

Yes, he is still incredibly young but there’s no doubting that not being at the World Cup next summer could stunt his progression, and that of several talented U.S. youngsters such as DeAndre Yedlin, Paul Arriola and Bobby Wood who may only have one more World Cup left in the tank before they have to call time on their playing career.

We will hear talk of a “lost generation” of U.S. players for many months and years to come and next summer it will be a strange and sobering sight to see the U.S. not at a World Cup for the first time since 1986.

There will be no street parties or stadium screenings of games across U.S. cities like there was in the summer of 2014 (remember how awesome they were?) not to mention a lack of the huge band of traveling American fans who would’ve traveled to Russia to experience the greatest tournament on the planet.

Hopefully positive change will come from this hugely negative experience. It could well get worse before it gets better as change is needed at the very top of the USSF but the system needs to be broken down and rebuilt. More emphasis is needed on youth development. More players need to be pushed at as young an age as possible if the USA will ever become the “world power” eternal optimists believe it can be.

The pay-to-play culture has to change if the U.S. is every going to unearth talents like Pulisic on a more regular basis. And failing to qualify for multiple Olympic tournaments and youth World Cups hasn’t helped either. There is no clear plan as to how players are developed in the USA and that is one of the problems impacting the USMNT.

The net must be cast wider than it ever has been in terms of talent identification. MLS and U.S. Soccer must work closer together to rebuild and move forward with a much clearer identity of what is achievable and possible.

For too long the U.S. has taken the CONCACAF region for granted and now they have paid the ultimate price. Their failure to reach the World Cup is not only a damaging blow to U.S. Soccer but also its many commercial partners and FIFA’s tournament as a whole.

The number of casual sports fans who would’ve watched the World Cup next summer cheering on the U.S. and then be intrigued enough to follow their local team in Major League Soccer, or even pick up a foreign team to support from afar, could dwindle.

All is not lost but you cannot sugarcoat the impact this monumental failure will have for soccer at all levels in the USA over the next few years.