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Did Team USA get too big for their boots?

Friday 13th October 2017
The rapid evolution of football in the United States of America over the last decade has been astonishing. The domestic league has seen big names come and go and the national side has shown they are no push over's at major tournaments. However, Team USA has failed to qualify for Russia 2018.
In the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the United States were drawn in a group with none other than England. The English media and fans alike saw this as a fantastic group draw and felt that the task would be an easy one. However, as we all know England did their usual tournament trick and failed to perform, whereas the USA impressed and proved the doubters wrong with their strong showing in the tournament. With Team USA finishing top of their group in the process. Whilst football, or soccer as it is infamously referred to in the States, isn't the country's main sport, it has been passionately adopted and in turn well practised by the national side. Their buzz continued at the 2014 world cup where they were arguably one of the most passionately supported sides at the tournament, however now the side seems to have lost their way and along with that a degree of identity.

The USA national side has never been the most extravagant side on paper, with one or two recognisable names, but never a squad packed with talent so to speak. This never did hinder them however and they used a degree of togetherness and strong will to help make up for areas they lack in. They have seemingly dominated the CONCACAF region by reaching the final in six of the last seven finals, winning it on four occasions. They seem to have cemented themselves as a nation of pedigree and no longer a side that other would deem an easy fixture.

However, under Bruce Arena, they have failed to qualify for the World Cup next summer in Russia following this the latest round of international fixtures. Much to the surprise of many and their failings aren't too difficult to analyse. A somewhat big-headed arrogance appears to have set into the mindset of the national side, they know they are no longer a small time nation and it has caused them to take their off the ball.
Whilst the quality of the team isn't what you would call spectacular there are still some players with a degree of ability, young Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund no doubt the current shining light. But instead of not letting a lack of talent be an issue as they have done previously, they have lost their edge when it comes to work rate. It used to be a team effort from a tight-knit bunch, determined to defy the odds with their loyal support behind them. Now whilst the fans may still be there the team fail to reciprocate and instead let fixtures pass them by. The defeat to Trinidad and Tobago which saw them eliminated earlier this week is more than enough evidence of this. Either way, the current Team USA is unrecognisable to that admirable pack of players from the last two tournaments. The finger may well be pointed at Bruce Arena as he has only been in charge since November 2016 and hasn't endured the same success stories as his predecessors Jurgen Klinsmann and Michael Bradley. Speculation is starting to mount on whether Arena should remain in the hot seat, or whether fresh ideas are needed
Whether it needs a new manager, an influx of fresh faces or possibly a change in the way things are run Team USA must look into changing things up to avoid slipping away on the international scene for a number of years.

They've gone out and proved they are at minimum a knockout round team since the turn of the millennium, now they face a tough task to show that it was not just a golden period that has come to an end.
Ryan Stewart

23 years old, Sport Journalism graduate living in Salford. Work in web content in Media city and always looking to break in to sports writing. Manchester United season ticket holder.


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