Take one nation, growing in stature within the sport, a massive competition and ESPN – what do you have? Throw in a pinch of a very pessimistic football culture here in the States and the supposed “very hard group” we’re in and you’ll have our usual but growing coverage. With American Outlaws, the Official United States National Team (men and women) having branches in every town, formal or informal, it’s a great time to be a supporter. What does this all mean for USA?
The scary thing about the World Cup this year is that USA’s group contains Germany, Portugal and Ghana. There isn’t one ‘walk over team’ in that group, including the States. USA’s team is thought highly of but is certainly not of one the top nations in the world because we’ve only ever made the quater-finals or have beaten England, which we have done a couple times. With this in mind, the expectations should be tempered by the fans. Of course all of us want to see the nation do well, and go far, but realistically that has to be curbed.
Jurgen Klinsmann has done some wonderful things with the team, leading them to a Gold Cup, recording a record wins total and has blooded in some superb young players from European leagues. He’s brought a European mindset to the set up, arguably for the first time ever. Jurgen expects his players to play in the top leagues, against the top players. He’s said he was unhappy that Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey came back to the MLS.
I loved Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena, the last two managers before Klinsmann, but they wouldn’t drop top players and occasionally their tactics were suspect. Klinsmann has injected an overall air of positivity in the camp and turned us into a proper team. We’re improving with every game and that’s down to the German.
Klinsmann is a tough task master too, rightly or wrongly. As you may be aware, he’s dropped the out of form and injured ‘star’ Landon Donovan. This weakened the squad because he took Jozy Altidore instead who’s struggled the whole season at Sunderland. Donovan was going to retire at the end of the World Cup anyway so leaving him out seems a tad harsh. He’s been an excellent servant to us over the years and deserves a tad more respect I feel. Also, on his day, he can produce that bit of magic that’s needed to win a game.
The expectations for the USMNT is low, as usual. We’re expected to finish bottom of our group in Brazil. We won’t expect any progress made out of this World Cup until a couple years down the line. Possibly like it is for England, we’ve got nothing to lose. We’re rebuilding and going with no pressure.
Jurgen Klinsmann is secure in his job enough to start building for Russia 2018. This is why he took so many young players like DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Tim Chandler and Julian Green. All these players are ones for the future, with Julian being only 18. The German favourite has picked a young squad, allowing them to play with freedom and giving it a real good, pressure-free go in Brazil. For me, it’s the right thing to do and will only hold us in excellent stead in the future.
The key with all of this is that this is a wash year for the USA team. Jurgen is the brains behind the operation and we’re all firmly behind him. He’s reshaping the American national side and with the potential coming through, we’re looking good for the future. Although leaving Landon Donovan behind caused a bit of an uproar over here, there’s clearly a method behind his madness.
While the States aren’t expected to shine in Brazil and expectations are realistically low, the future is certainly looking bright under Jurgen Klinsmann.
By Stephen Brandt – Liverpool fan – @