The U.S. men’s national soccer team did not qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986, this after losing, 2-1, to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday.
Just how much will this loss affect soccer in the United States? Well, time will tell.
“I don’t think we’re really going to be able to gauge the true effect of this loss and non-participation in the World Cup for a long time,” former U.S. men’s national team member Stu Holden said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “For us to not quality in this region that is delicately forgiving hone you consider that we only have to finish ahead of Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, and Honduras – and no disrespect to them, but we beat them on a consistent basis and we’re expected to win. So that’s why this was a real shock. I think it’s just a wake-up call across the board of where we might be as a soccer nation.”
The players deserve blame for this, but Sunil Gulati, Jurgen Klinsmann, and Bruce Arena do as well.
“There’s a number of people to blame. I don’t think it’s a single person,” Holden said. “A number of people are calling for Bruce Arena to step down, and I think he should. He was brought in solely to get this team to a World Cup, which he didn’t. There’s blame being placed on Jurgen Klinsmann for a complacency that’s crept into the national team at the highest level, and perhaps some decisions that he made as technical director. We’ve missed out on two straight Olympics now, and that, to me, is as equally as important for development (of) players and playing in these big tournaments.
“So I don’t know if I could really pick out one person that’s to blame for this, and I think that would be incredibly unjust,” Holden continued. “But what it has done is really forced people to have a serious inquest into where perhaps we can get better and where some of these cracks that have been papered over, how can we fill them with the right substance.”
Bill Reiter wondered if Klinsmann, who was relieved of coaching duties last November, felt vindicated Tuesday.
“Jurgen, I think, would have felt some type of vindication that we didn’t qualify, but I genuinely don’t think he would have been rooting against us to not qualify – just purely for his own self-satisfaction,” Holden said. “Anytime you lose a job, you don’t necessarily wish them to do incredibly well, but I don’t believe he was actively rooting against us. He had a pretty heavy hand in helping develop this team and a number of players on that roster. So I’m sure he’s aware that a lot of this will, in turn, reflect on his time as the coach as well.”