Brazil 3, USA 0….What have we learned?

USA 0-3 Brazil

Another game, another loss.

After a semi-inspiring first half against Italy on Monday, the United States has failed to muster any energy or enthusiasm in 3 succeeding halves of soccer. In those 3 halves, the USMNT has been outscored 6-0, with little to no efforts of our own on goal (though we did hit the woodwork late in the game against Brazil).

So what is ailing the US team, once though to be a burgeoning nation of soccer talent? What happened to the movement toward better soccer and better teams after the 2006 disaster?

Today’s game certainly didn’t offer any signs of improvement, and many would argue the US team has taken a visible step backward in their path to soccer relevance. Where are we going with the current setup?

I don’t see any sense that we’re building our team to play a certain way or developing a gameplan for playing at the top level. We seem to just put our guys out there a hope we get a free kick or two near the box (which seems pointless given that Donovan takes them and rarely does anything positive).

Instead of picking a formation and sticking with it, we send a forward, 5 mids, and 4 defenders out there and tell them to play behind the ball – sometimes in a 4-3-3, other times in a 4-5-1. There is no emphasis on build-up play, or even just staying shape.

People can dislike Milutinovic’s tactics with Iraq, but at least those guys appeared to care, not to mention that they were organized and looked like someone coached them before the game.

We just let Donovan, Dempsey, Kljestan, and Beasley run wherever and then expect Bradley to cover their lack of defense and provide them with the passes to get forward. There is no semblance of a team.

Unfortunately, I think the national soccer media is going to cling to the “Well, the US is missing Ching, Hejduk, and Mastroeni”, as if those talentless players are the reasons the US is performing so poorly.

At some point, US Soccer needs to decide what it wants to do – what direction are we going in? Are we content to send underperforming teams to the WC every 4 years with no intent of competing? Or are we going to try to form what talent we do produce into formidable teams?

We may not be great, but we produce some talent. We’re most likely not going to compete with Spain, England, Argentina, or Brazil anytime soon, but we’ve got enough talent to put together teams capable of competing with the Egypts, Czechs, and Croatias of the world.

Given our form, I’m pretty sure we’ll be 0-for-3 in South Africa next year (unless we luck into facing New Zealand or a weak Asian side) with our current setup.

So what should the direction be? Salvage what’s left of the Donovan years (and frankly, he wasn’t a top-class player to begin with and he’s only slowing down from here) or start fresh and begin the Adu\Altidore era?

We’ve got plenty of deadwood from the Arena\Bradley era to get rid of at this point, and I think it might be best if we start adapting our youth to the big stage.

If we’re not going to be a decent team by 2010, why not use it to get some valuable experience for 2014? Are 3 losses going to be any worse with a youthful squad than with an experienced one?

Unfortunately, my first blog entry is filled with more questions than answers.


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