Posts Tagged ‘Gold Cup’

With all the talk from last week’s announcement of the US 23 man roster for Brazil a lot has been mentioned about a new era of US Soccer especially with the exclusion of Landon Donovan from the World Cup.  A question was even raised about how good the senior national team is now compared to 1998 and 2002.

Here are some stats I found about the level of soccer at the senior international level.  I’ve divided international soccer for the United States into four distinct periods…

The Forgotten Era (1930-1950)

  • World Cup Highlights: 3 wins – 0 draws – 4 losses (-9 Goal Differential); the obvious highlights are reaching the semifinals in 1930 after two shutout victories in the group stage before being eliminated by Argentina.  Another highlight has to be the victory over England in the 1950 WC Group Stage is considered one of the greatest upsets in the history of the tournament.
  • Olympic Highlights: 1 win – 0 draws – 3 losses (-12 Goal Differential)
  • National Highlights: The National Challenge Cup (now the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup) was created in the 1913-14 season and the American Soccer League was reinvented as the professional organization in the USA during this period.
  • Key Contributors: Bert Patenaude is credited with scoring all three goals in the 1930 victory over Paraguay, and thus holds the record of the first hat trick in World Cup history.

The Dark Ages (1954-1986)

It’s not that we lost soccer all-together during this period, but it was mostly imported from outside of the USA.  This was made very evident by the lack of success at an international level for the USA and Team America finishing in last place in the NASL during the 1983 season.

  • World Cup Highlights: None, didn’t qualify once during this period in history.
  • Olympic Highlights: 1 win – 3 draws – 7 losses (-25 Goal Differential)
  • CONCACAF Gold Cup: 6 wins – 4 draws – 2 losses (+4 Goal Differential)
  • National Highlights: The birth of the North American Soccer League in 1968 gave the USA it’s first viable and competitive professional league that lasted until 1984.  The Major Indoor Soccer League continued to carry the flag of professional soccer in the USA from 1978-1992.
  • Key Contributors: The New York Cosmos and owner Steve Ross fueled the game by bringing international superstars to the USA in the likes of Pele, Giorgio Chinaglia, and Beckenbauer.

The Modern Reformation (1990-1998)

  • World Cup Highlights: 1 win – 1 draw – 8 losses (-11 Goal Differential); made the Round of 16 when they hosted the 1994 World Cup.
  • Olympic Highlights: Beginning in 1992 the Olympics became a competition for national U23 sides
  • CONCACAF Gold Cup: 16 wins – 2 draws – 3 losses (+20 Goal Differential); Won their first, and only championship during this period in 1991.
  • National Highlights: After the success of hosting the 1994 World Cup a new professional league was started in 1996, the MLS.
  • Key Contributors: Alan Rothenberg lead the US Soccer Federation as president from 1990-1998.  He was instrumental in hosting a successful 1994 World Cup and played a key role in the development of the MLS.  Bob Gansler also has to be noted for his ability to help lead the US MNT back to WC qualification during the 1990 campaign.

The National Awakening (2000-2011)

  • World Cup Highlights: 3 wins – 4 draws – 5 losses (-4 Goal Differential); 2002 was a breakthrough year for the US MNT when they defeated Portugal and Mexico to advance to the Quarterfinals before falling to Germany.
  • CONCACAF Gold Cup: 32 wins – 4 draws – 4 losses (+48 Goal Differential); this run includes four championships and two runner-up finishes.
  • National Highlights: The MLS continues to strengthen in attendance, financial stability, and TV ratings.  In 2009 the US MNT finished 2nd in the Confederations Cup, their first appearance in a FIFA Final.
  • Key Contributors: Sunil Gulati, current president of USSF, hired Bob Bradley who led the US MNT to the 2009 Confederations Cup Final.  Don Garber’s impact on the national development of soccer as the MLS Commissioner since 1999 also must be mentioned.

Since the “Modern Era” of US Soccer (usually deemed 1990-present) the level of play and the pool of the national team has increased.  The team has become more and more competitive in international competitions where we have a realistic expectation to win the Gold Cup every two years and finish on top of World Cup Qualification every four years.  Just 25 years ago we were shocked to qualify for the World Cup in a given cycle, and now the expectation is to compete.

I’m interested to see where the  next era is going to take us in this country, and it started with the hiring of Jurgen Klinsmann in 2011.  He is ushering in a mentality that the United States should play a more attractive style of soccer and that it must be fostered down through all tiers of development in the country.  The philosophy and methodology of our coaching education has seen drastic changes in the past three years along with the development of the MLS and other leagues in the USA.  Another factor that I think will be a key to the dawn of this new era for us is television.  Never before have we seen networks make such a financial investment in the game of soccer for the USA, and the recent deal between Fox, ESPN, and Univision with Major League Soccer for eight years could make an amazing impact on the culture of our sport.

Exciting times.

The Culture of USA Soccer

Posted: June 25, 2011 in US Soccer
Tags: , ,

American Outlaws

A week ago I was able to attend the USA v. Guadeloupe game, and I thought I’d just put down some of my general impressions of where we are as a country and our love of the national team.

First, the venue was Livestrong Park in Kansas City, KS and it was an amazing stadium.  Smaller (18,000 capacity I think), but what a great stadium.  It shows how far we’ve come as a country when one of the oldest teams in the MLS is finally able to join the rest of the league and get on board with a soccer-specific stadium and host an international competition.  We’ve come a long way since the Hunt family built Crew Stadium.

The game was an important one, and we needed to get a result out of it to move on to the quarter finals of the Gold Cup, so I was pretty confident that we were going to get the full first team line up.  Bob Bradley came out in his traditional 1-4-4-2 and the following starters…

GK: Tim Howard
Back Line: Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra, Eric Lichaj
Midfield: Landon Donovan, Michael  Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey
Strikers: Chris Wondolowski, Jozy Altidore

The stadium was packed with 20,000+ fans that night, and it was more encouraging to see the entire supporters section completely filled with the American Outlaws and Sam’s Army (even the local Sporting KC supporter groups came out with their drums and everything to help provide the atmosphere).  They really helped set the tone of the game and they never stopped singing the entire 90 minutes.  I was also impressed with their pre-game activities.  Organized tailgating prior to the game, a get together advertised for the supporters groups the night before to build up the event, it was very encouraging to see.

The other three sides of the stadium were made up of a lot of casual or first-time fans.  For instance, the group of 48 players and parents that I brought down with me were mainly made up of fans who had never seen a soccer match at the highest level (even on television).  A few of them had, but it might have only been to attend one or two MLS games, and watching the EPL or international soccer through a television.  So they were very reserved, but I felt like each of them left having a great time and developing a love for this beautiful game.

Most of the crowd was relatively quite, and didn’t catch on with the supporters chants, but most MLS games are like this as well in all honesty.  The encouraging thing was to notice some of the conversations I over heard throughout the stadium (I can’t sit still, I have to be on my feet for the game).  There were a lot of new fans that were very impressed with the quality of play and the excitement around a competition they had only vaguely heard of.  It was very encouraging to me about the future of developing a following for USA soccer.  There were a few kids in the stadium, but I would say a majority of the fans were adults who knew something of the game and were educated about the game of soccer and there to watch, not just be entertained.

This is what we need for soccer to take off as a spectator sport in the USA.  More fans who are adults and can be drawn into the game better than only appealing to the little youth soccer demographic.

After the final whistle the supporters groups retreated into the pub and watched highlights of the game as they cheered and had a post-game pint.

I think the culture of USA soccer is growing, and it shows with success they’ve had hosting these events.  Hopefully we can start turning some of these new, first-time fans into consistent USA followers.  It was a great experience, and I’m glad a contingency from South Dakota was willing to drive down and experience it.