With the United States failing to qualify for the World Cup there are many questions swirling around the game in the USA. Some won’t be answered for about five years, others will be answered in months. Some are difficult and will impact the game in this nation for decades. Others will determine legacies for Hall of Fame level coaches and players. And some are silly, and probably should not pop into my head at this time.
Will Clint Dempsey retire at the end of the 2017 MLS season?
He is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Deuce has yet to win the biggest club trophy offered where he’s played (while playing, at least), but he’s collected honors for both club and country. Now merely tied with Landon Donovan with 57 international goals and tied with Fredy Montero for Seattle Sounders MLS goals, Clint loses a major motivation to play in 2018 — there will not be another World Cup for an American at his age.
Seattle has an option on his contract, but there were already many questions about his value to the team. Maybe, with his health history and there no longer being a carrot dangling of a fourth World Cup, Dempsey retires. That seems even more likely if he plays in, and wins, an MLS Cup.
Who will replace Sunil Gulati?
It’s obvious that Bruce Arena will be replaced. It should be just as obvious that the long-time ruler of US Soccer is out of ideas and time. Gulati took the game to its highest levels for the men and the women. But this is a massive failure.
His time has come.
However, there isn’t an obvious replacement. Anyone with high levels of experience is as tainted as Sunil is. There is an election coming up. It should be hotly contested.
Who will replace Bruce Arena?
Arena was always just a stop gap, except he didn’t stop anything. The next US coach has a massive job ahead of them, and they get five years to build the future of soccer in the US. The talent base is growing; US Soccer has to find someone willing explore it in a structured and consistent way.
International coaches tend to be overwhelmed by the scale of the nation, the unique management of the game within the US and the need to scout in a dozen nations on two continents.
Domestic coaches tend to lack ambition, the ability to develop youth players and most of them have little experience dealing with the level of talent available to the USMNT coach.
Oscar Pareja, Peter Vermes and Jason Kreis all used to get mentions. Each has individual strengths, but there is no reason to think that any of those get the United States any further than we’ve been in prior World Cups, when we qualified.
Will the increase of the club over country fanbase continue?
With decent to good local professional soccer in nearly 50 communities (and growing) support for the national team seems to be somewhat wavering. People would have gotten up for the World Cup, but attendance at friendlies is waning (of course, ticket prices might have something to do with this as well).
Without a World Cup to galvanize the American casual soccer community in 2018 will it continue to fracture among the dozens of pro teams and three competing leagues (with two more supposedly on the way)?
Will Jordan Morris ever go to a World Cup?
Morris is 22 (23 in just a couple weeks). That means the next World Cup roster he could make he will be 28. As a speedy forward whose most likely chance at getting sold into top leagues was after a trip to Russia, Jordan will need to adapt and build his game in a couple ways. A new coach may not look to a non-veteran who is older for World Cup 2022. There’s a chance that this absence from the World Cup means that a “generation” of players miss out entirely.
Could that mean he’s a Sounder for life?
There will no longer be the eyes of the globe upon him to get that Yedlin-esque deal. Morris will instead have to show himself to the world via the Gold Cup (not great) and a potential future Copa America (hooray for automatically qualifying!). It’s possible that Jordan stays with Seattle.
Who will you support during the World Cup?
I’m leaning towards Egypt due to my history with soccer in the Middle East, but watching Roman Torres play CB-Forward for Panama will be awesome.
What’s Fox going to do with all those hours of content to fill now that the United States isn’t going to be at the World Cup?
Spoiler: They will focus on Mexico. It won’t go over well in some circles, but they’ll have strong ratings.