The USMNT suffered the biggest upset in U.S. Soccer’s history Wednesday when they fell 2-1 to Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Semifinal. It was the first time the U.S. was eliminated from a Gold Cup by a CONCACAF opponent other than Mexico and the first time they lost to a Caribbean nation at home since 1969.
Sometimes when a big loss happens it’s best to wait a day before reacting. This game is one of those times. So one day later, here is what we know about the loss to Jamaica.
The U.S. just got beat
It’s as simple as that. Did the U.S. play as well as they could have, no, but they certainly didn’t play terribly either. They came out on fire in the second half and put Jamaica under a lot of pressure. The result of that was an early goal and countless chances for another. The U.S. just couldn’t put one past a very shaky goalkeeper.
Once again the game was played on a terrible playing surface that caused weird bounces and bad rolls. Bad playing surfaces favor the less talented team, in this case Jamaica, as it becomes much easier to disrupt what the better team wants to do.
As for Jamaica, let’s not forget that they’re a pretty underrated team themselves. They played the U.S. four times during the last World Cup qualifying cycle and gave the U.S. fits every time. Furthermore they just came off a Copa America tournament where they completely held their own. Despite not making it past the group stage, they proved to be a much tougher out than anyone expected.
American Soccer fans still have a lot of growing to do
Let me just say I love that soccer is growing in America and that the number of soccer fans in this country gets higher every year. But there’s a difference between soccer fans and U.S. soccer fans. When you have such a big group of supporters, there are obviously going to be some bad apples.
Those bad apples seem to be less like soccer fans and more fans of the USMNT, who love supporting the team because they love the chance to be patriotic. Those are the fans that don’t completely understand the game and don’t understand why America, “the greatest country on the planet,” isn’t dominating world soccer just yet.
Here’s what I tweeted right after the game Wednesday.
— Pauly Kwestel (@pkwestelWFAN) July 22, 2015
And boy did those “fire Jurgen Klinsmann” hot takes come in from just about every angle. Those people need to take a step back and calm down. Klinsmann isn’t going anywhere, nor should he.
The truth is there is no one else out there better than Klinsmann. Sure there are mercenaries like Guus Hiddink and Fabio Capello, but what have those men ever done other than search for their next paycheck?
What Klinsmann is doing is rebuilding U.S. soccer at every level of the program. When he took the job it was known his plan was to overhaul the system and that overhaul takes time. People complaining that he’s had four years to improve the senior team and he hasn’t are clueless.
The senior team was what it was, he couldn’t change that overnight and he wasn’t looking for a quick fix. The youth system that the U.S. has now is far better than it ever was. It’s going to take longer than four years for the senior team to really look and play different. We may not even see it in the next four years but we will see it six years from now and it’ll continue to look different going forward.
Jurgen has done this before. When he took over Germany he took what he had and made the World Cup semifinals with that team (a team that didn’t make it out of the group stages of Euro 2004). But what he also did was rebuild the youth system and eight years later, that German system won the World Cup. Jurgen knows what he’s doing, we just need to have patience, and patience requires more than four years.
This doesn’t erase all the good Klinsmann has done
The other blistering hot take that came out of this loss was people claiming that this loss negates the great wins we had against the Netherlands and Germany. No it doesn’t. Sure at the end of the day those games were just friendlies, but that’s not the point of them.
When Klinsmann took over he had a problem with the attitude of U.S. soccer. Back then if they played a Germany or an Italy, or Mexico at the Azteca, the U.S. and their fans didn’t expect to win the game. Klinsmann wanted that to change, he wanted every player and fan to believe that the U.S. could win any game vs. any opponent in any location on any given day.
That goal has been accomplished. Does the US still play up and down to their opponents a little bit too much? Absolutely. Do they fail to crush much weaker opponents when they should? Sure. But at the end of the day every single game on their calendar every player on the team, as well as myself and countless other fans, believe they have a legitimate shot to win. That wasn’t there before Klinsmann.
I’m not worried about the Confederations Cup playoff
The U.S. will get a home game (at the Rose Bowl) for the chance to represent CONCACAF at the 2017 Confederations Cup against either Jamaica or Mexico. While some people are worried about the U.S. potentially dropping this game and missing the tournament I’m not one of them.
If the U.S. gets Jamaica, they will need to lose two elimination games in a row at home to the same team, something I don’t see happening. If they get Mexico… well other then a 6-0 defeat of Cuba in their opening group match of the Gold Cup, Mexico has been beyond horrendous in the past year.
They were terrible in the build up to the Gold Cup, terrible in the group stage and have been even worse in the knockout rounds. To say they shouldn’t be in the final is an understatement, as they only made it due to questionable refereeing in the semifinal and they only made the semi’s due to a horrendously bad penalty call in the quarters.
Plus the U.S. will have Tim Howard back in goal, so there really is nothing to worry about. Fans just need to take a deep breath and realize that.