Whilst tinged with regret and remorse, the USA has nothing to be ashamed about when reflecting on its performance at the 2010 World Cup, unlike it’s more feted and illustrious group-mates from over the pond.
They battled hard as a unit, stuck to the coaches gameplans and with a bit of luck, could well have gone further. I will leave the post-mortems to far more qualified writers on this site but I do have one idea that refuses to go away concerning US football and its future that I’d like to share.
I think it’s time that the US followed Australia’s example and left CONCACAF for the sunnier pastures of CONMEBOL, or the South American qualifying zone, hopefully bringing Mexico with them.
The World Cup has proven that the US can mix it with the decent European and African teams and as last summer also showed. For players like Landon Donovan, Tim Howard and Jozy Altidore, competitively, what does the next two years have to offer? Whilst Mexico and Japan (as invited guests) have the Copa America to look forward to, what is on the US’s horizon? The 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup? Seriously?
How can these players and other exciting young talent develop and gain experience of top level international competition by roundly beating up on the likes of Haiti, Panama and Guatemala. Even Canada and Mexico must be sick of the sight of you by now.
No, the only way for the US to take the next step in their international development is to step in with the big boys, bring their Latino cousins to the south with them and work harder for their WC qualifying place. Sure it might be hard to pip Brazil, Argentina and Chile but you’ve still got two places left to go for (maybe more if you and Mexico arrive, CONCACAF couldn’t realistically hold onto three automatic places without you). The players will learn more traveling to South America and playing these teams than they will in the glorified friendlies that make up 50 percent of their international calendar and you would sell out any venue in the states if Brazil or Argentina came calling on a regular basis.
Australia took the leap because they realized that not only did they need it for development, but if they wanted to host the World Cup in the future, they needed to have regular competition of a certain stature. Oceania hasn’t fallen apart with their departure – ask New Zealand. As well as giving the lesser lights of the region their own hour in the sun, the US has done more to promote and carry the CONCACAF flag recently than any other country and like any loving parent, maybe its time they helped you fly the nest unless they want a creepy, 40-something, shut-in raiding the fridge in between WoW sessions, sitting on the couch, scratching themselves and promising that they’ll find a job/qualify for the World Cup tomorrow. Yes Canada, I’m thinking of you.
If you love something, set it free. So come on CONCACAF, reward the boys of 2010 with something even more valuable than your Gold Cup. Their freedom.
Guy Bailey is a senior writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.