It sucks to be eliminated by the same team in two straight World Cups. Really sucks. But let us look at the fallout from this game.
Falling behind early is getting old. Down 1-0 after five minutes is really hard on any team. But to expect the US to win or draw 75% of the time is too unrealistic. Whats the reasoning? It’s coaching. I am in no way calling for Bradley’s job. Not one bit. He should get an extension. But if you can’t get your team to fix a terrible flaw, to get them up for a game, that’s on you. The defense isn’t that bad. This game it was starting Ricardo Clark out there. He made a terrible bonehead play and gave up a huge juicy turnover. Maurice Edu, who came in after 30 minutes (using a sub we could have used in extra time) replaced Clark and played much better. The second half was far different, as the US outplayed Ghana but it just wasn’t enough. The Yanks just can’t finish their chances.
Findley was nonexistent all game as well. Start Edson Buddle, who had a hot hand (foot?) and could have given a spark, something Findley didn’t do all tournaments. Feilhaber played very well, bringing his energy and some good scoring chances. I like not starting Onyewu, although he has incredible talent, he would have been burned. Gomez played decent coming in. The replacements were pretty good, but were also to cover Bradley’s mistakes in the beginning.
Hopefully the US can build from this. I am not happy or satisfied with this result. This team was better than Ghana and could have advanced farther. They have a lot of potential and are building talent. But we can’t just look at this and say “well we did a good job and got this far”. Losers say that, and we need to start being a winner soccer team. Let’s see the fan reaction. It’s easy to root for a winner, but we’ll see how many more fans we gained. The MLS will get its stars back and the All-Star game vs. Manchester United will be a good launching point for the league to benefit from this. Soccer needs to take notes from the NHL this year. An incredible Olympics and a Cinderella US squad led to more viewers, more ticket sales, more merchandise sales, more website hits, more sandwiches named after players. The NHL built off of the Olympic popularity by marketing their stars to new fans. The MLS has a tougher time of accomplishing this, but it can happen and will help. It won’t propel it past the Big 4 (football, baseball, hockey, basketball) but that’s not what it should aim for
Where to go to now? It’s hard to tell. The roster will look so much different in 4 years. The US has some awesome exhibitions coming up (Brazil in August) and will schedule a lot more games against the world’s best. We’ll quickly see how big of an impact this run had for US soccer. I bet many of the players will get upgrades to better leagues and bigger teams. Just keep building and moving in the right direction. The future is very bright for US soccer. Right now it is just rough.