Even the U.S. National Team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the United States needs to start fixing problems with the team right now. The U.S. doesn’t actually have a competitive game for a year, but any upcoming fixtures can help the team incorporate new players and get the squad back on track.
Here are five problems with the U.S. National Team that should be fixed sooner rather than later:
Poor movement off the ball
When the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the team looked listless and disinterested. Besides Christian Pulisic being aggressive and direct, the rest of the team didn’t show for the ball or make runs into space. The U.S. had the players to keep possession and score goals, but nobody except Pulisic looked like they wanted the ball played through them. No matter who is playing for the U.S., the players will need to show a lot more movement off the ball if the team is going to be more dynamic.
Lack of fluid passing
Like the poor movement off the ball discussed above, the U.S. hasn’t displayed fluid passing basically ever. For years players like Benny Feilhaber and Lee Nguyen have been mostly left off the national team for no good reason. Pulisic has shown that he can open up the defense with his passing and dribbling, but the other players need to be more involved in the team’s passing. The U.S. will never play like Brazil, Spain, France, Italy, or Argentina until everyone on the national team looks to play one to two touch passing with plenty of movement of the ball. It has been 15 years since the U.S. reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, so the lack of fluid and crisp passing by the U.S. is pretty embarrassing but apparently not enough so for changes to be made.
Constantly changing U.S. National Team lineups
Elite footballing nationals have a familiar cast of players that are trotted out all the time. Sometimes regulars are swapped for more deserving replacements, but enormous wholesale charges aren’t normally made. Elite national teams incorporate new and/or better players, but their players are accustomed to playing together and know how to play together. For many years, it has felt like almost every U.S. lineups is a type of soccer musical chairs where all sorts of different players start. The U.S. hasn’t shown much teamwork or impressive combination play for some time. Christian Pulisic and Clint Dempsey have no problem playing together, but most of the other players don’t play like they know how to play with their teammates.
The U.S. isn’t starting enough skill players to play well
For whatever reason, whoever coaches the U.S. doesn’t field enough technical and dynamic players for the team to truly play well. Under Bruce Arena, Bob Bradley, Jürgen Klinsmann, and Bruce Arena again, the U.S. simply refuses to field the type of technical players needed to improve the level of the U.S.’ play. It’s hard to argue that the U.S. doesn’t have the needed players to at least pass the ball well. There aren’t many elite soccer players in the U.S., but there are skilled players who have the technical ability and soccer brain to play the right way. For the U.S. to play better, it needs to field the players who play a more advanced brand of soccer.
The last two coaches of the U.S. have let the U.S. down. Klinsmann overlooked too many of the best American players, and he started too many players out of position. After him, Arena wouldn’t commit to fielding a playmaker like he promised, and he always went with his former club center back Omar Gonzalez over EPL veteran Geoff Cameron who was much better and much faster. Tab Ramos was supposed to be the interim coach of the U.S., so perhaps the poor coaching could have been fixed. Ramos was a Number 10, and he has proven to be a coach with a good eye for talent who fields quality lineups. Time will tell how different the U.S.’ lineups and games look with a new coach.