Jason Kreis believes that the “mentality and confidence weren’t there” as the USMNT under-23 team failed to qualify for the Olympics — an all too common occurrence which now stands at three successive tournaments — and he accepts the blame for that undeniable fact.
Speaking after Sunday’s defeat to Honduras, who will go on to represent CONCACAF in their fourth straight Olympic appearance, Kries pointed to a number of factors which have all too frequently plagued the USMNT at virtually every age level over the last decade.
In brief summation, the ideas handed down to the players weren’t good enough and the players didn’t buy into said ideas enough for it to matter anyway.
“I think the first half looked a lot like the Dominican Republic first half. We have players that aren’t moving. We have people on the ball that aren’t committing defenders to make decisions to open up spaces. We have guys that look like they just don’t really want the ball.
“And so, again, it just kind of goes back to mostly mentality for me. That’s my opinion right now and I could have it wrong. But, I just think at the end of the day it just wasn’t quite there from a confidence point of view.”
As for how the blame for failing to qualify for the Olympics should be doled out, Kreis isn’t shying away from his fair share.
“This is who I am as a person. I will look first and foremost at myself and think back about the decisions that were made about the roster, about the form of the players that were coming in, the players that weren’t here.
“Of course, absolutely. Anybody that knows anything about me knows that I point the finger at myself first. Having said that, it’s a collective effort. It wasn’t just me making those decisions. But, I’m more than willing and able to take the brunt of the blame, no problem.”
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a game where we’ve had players mis-control the ball so much, balls rolling under people’s feet, passing out of bounds. These are things that are just really… you kind of scratch your head.
“You’re thinking, ‘What’s going on here?’ But, I also have been around the game long enough in our country at a pro level to tell you this is what you see in preseason.”
Now, let’s have a look at a selection of short quotes, made by former U-23 head coach Andi Herzog, five years ago following the 2016 Olympics failure…
- “We were not good offensively — we have to be honest. I don’t care about Honduras, it’s more about my team. We had our plan, but we were not able to do it in the right way, so that’s the most disappointing thing.”
- “When a team played real physical against us, we didn’t have any power, any assertiveness up front, and that’s disappointing.”
- “We give up such a simple, stupid goal.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same, right?
In the end, Kreis will move on — whether voluntarily or by dismissal — and the U-23 team will fall under the watchful eye of the next American soccer coaching retread tasked with guiding the eldest-aged youth team to the 2024 Olympics in Paris.