An era of arrogance and excess at US Soccer has yielded what in hindsight was a predictable result. The United States have missed the FIFA World Cup for the first time in over thirty years.
Despite the good fortune the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) received with the weakness of CONCACAF opposition – Honduras is going through a rebuilding phase and Panama’s aging “Golden Generation” seemed to have missed their best shot at qualifying for the World Cup or winning continental silverware in the last cycle – the USMNT still managed to miss qualification. Despite beating those two opponents by a combined scoreline of 10-0 in home qualifiers this year, the United States finished behind both and missed the World Cup after a stunning 2-1 loss in Couva against last-place Trinidad and Tobago.
In the match, the US was second best most of the night showing none of the fight or determination that proponents of the USMNT program claim is inherent in American players. In fact the US men looked a spent and defeated force most of the night, one that could not be bothered to toughen up and get a result. That reflects on the culture of entitlement and lack of accountability that has permeated US Soccer for years.
The failure of the United States falls squarely at the feet of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and its president Sunil Gulati, who has had a leading role in the game in this country for thirty years.
Under Gulati’s watch in his most recent term as USSF President that began in 2014, we’ve witnessed the following calamities under his leadership:
1) A promising generation of US Soccer players missed qualification for the 2016 Summer Olympics despite hosting the qualifying tournament. This was a stunning failure given the number of young US players already featured at professional clubs in the US and abroad when compared to the CONCACAF opposition.
2) The FIFA scandal erupted with much of the wrongdoing having taken place on US soil. Gulati and his allies acted as if they were innocent or even worse yet victims. The USSF for years had benefited from the relationship Chuck Blazer, but whose corrupt behavior was the genesis of the initial investigations by the DOJ and FBI. Gulati’s relationship with Blazer was never fully scrutinized by most in the US media as an effort was made to project the scandal as revolving around foreigners and Americans involved in NASL, a rogue second division that had clashed with Gulati’s USSF.