Thursday, June 22, 2006

What's Next...
By Imtiaz Mussa

The United States have just lost to Ghana ending their World Cup with a record of 0-2-1 and finishing in last place in Group E. Words can’t even sum up the way that I feel right now. This is worse than 1998. The expectations were higher this year. Maybe they were never supposed to move on from this group but they were supposed to give it everything they had. I’m not sure if they ever did that. Things have to change.

It’s Time for Bruce Arena to Go
The man who led the USA to the quarters in 2002 was nowhere to be seen in 2006. He never understood that you have to try to play to win these games from the start. That means Eddie Johnson should have partnered with Brian McBride from the start to provide another style of striker up front. McBride is a target man while Johnson can take the ball and run toward goal. You cannot count on just one style when you have the ability to go to another. Arena forgot that and it proved to be a critical mistake and can be considered to be the root of all of this. With the way that some of the players, especially Donovan played out there that Arena is not reaching them anymore.

Managers typically don’t last two World Cups. Arena should count himself as lucky for having the opportunity to do so. He was my pick to take over the job in 1998 but it’s time for the United States to make that next step and get a world class manager. When you look around the US, there just simply isn’t that man in MLS. Arena was a great hire after the debacle of 1998 but he was only going to take this team to a certain point. It’s time for the United States to dish out the cash.

There are three names that I am looking at to be given a shot:
Sigi Schmid: If the United States is going to go with a younger team then Schmid makes a ton of sense because he coached the Under-20 squad in the 2005 World Youth Championship. He’s not a big name but he knows the player really well.

Carlos Queiroz: Sir Alex Ferguson’s number two at Manchester United has plenty of international experience. He coached the Portuguese U21 to the Football World Youth Championship twice in 1989 and 1991. Queiroz was credited with discovering Portugal's "golden generation" of great players such as Luís Figo, Rui Costa, João Pinto and Jorge Costa. People will point to sour runs with the team formerly known as the MetroStars or Real Madrid but he can’t be blamed for either. The New York franchise has never won and Real Madrid have not won a trophy for years. He is highly regarded all over the world.

Jürgen Klinsmann: He has shown in this World Cup that his attacking style has worked with the German team. He lives in California and if he decides to leave the German job, the US will make a big run at him. He has been an consultant with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He has also won a World Cup with Germany in 1990. That will get the attention of these players.

Certain Players Need to Go To Europe Now!
Clint Dempsey is the lone American goalscorer of this tournament. He has shown the no fear mentality that Beasley and Donovan had in 2002. European clubs were watching and had to be impressed. In order to get ready for 2010, he needs to go and get that much needed experience. Eddie Johnson should join him. He will be the big striker in four years because it’s highly unlikely McBride will be around. He has the talent and needs to go to an environment that will elevate his game. Freddy Adu should start getting ready to make a move. MLS is not going to give him an opportunity to reach his potential. He shouldn’t go Chelsea or Manchester United because he won’t play regularly. But a mid-level club will allow him to play and eventually get ready to make the big move.

For Keller, Pope, Reyna, and McBride, this is it. The United States needs to start preparations for the 2010 World Cup. There is no other tournament that is going to come up like in Europe (Euro) that is going to give these guys another chance to play. The younger players will need as much international experience as they can get and these guys can’t block the path.

Change the Face
In 2002, the USA was a group of players who came together. Since then, Donovan and Beasley became the face of US soccer. They let the hype get to them and they flopped in this World Cup. Neither one is the face. In all honesty, there is no face on this team. That world class player who truly changes the game does not exist on this team. Until that player comes along, you can forget about finding a golden boy.

Can the United States come back from this? Absolutely. The United States is using the money to invest in an infrastructure that will allow young players to harness their talent and eventually make the move to play professionally. If they can find a manager who will use the right style, there will be plenty to look forward to in the future.

This also happens to be Sportszilla's 500th post. We thank you guys for reading and hope that you will continue to enjoy the work we do


Post a Comment

<< Home