It’s been a long year for supporters of the USMNT. It feels like a lifetime ago we all sat there, stunned as the clock ticked down against Trinidad & Tobago. Frozen as the goal in Panama flashed across the TV. What we thought was impossible, was now happening. We weren’t going to Russia.
We all shared a devastating experience that night, but we did not wake up the next day sharing the same emotions. Some of us were angry, others solemn. Some were motivated, while others couldn’t stomach to watch the team again.
We weren’t in agreement on where to lay blame for the disaster, either. We penned an open letter calling for the resignation of Bruce Arena and Sunil Gulati. Some thought Jurgen Klinsmann shouldered much of the responsibility. Topics from youth development and pay to play to promotion/relegation and ticket prices (and everything in between) became hot button issues.
But a year later, after a contentious USSF presidential race, after being forced to consume what seems like a million ads telling us to cheer for a different country – what has been progress has been made? Where do we stand now?
Let’s start with the good. The USMNT has seen an influx of young, promising talent to be excited about. The likes of Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Tim Weah, Josh Sargent and more have been brought into the squad, and the average age of the team going into Thursday’s friendly is 24 years old. The young guys have shown flashes of great technical ability, play at some of the top clubs in the world and have a hunger to represent the red, white and blue. They secured tough results in Portugal and France when no one expected them too. They fought a tough Mexico team to a victory. There are a lot of reasons to be excited about the future of the team.
Impossible to listen to @PSG_English's Tim Weah and @s04_en's @WMckennie talk about the future of @ussoccer_mnt and not feel optimistic. Both Young Guns guest on Monday's MEN IN BLAZERS SHOW. 5:30 p.m. ET on @NBCSN. pic.twitter.com/YECGk2lvdA
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) September 30, 2018
In the aftermath, we also saw a shakeup at the top of the USSF. Bruce Arena resigned as coach, Sunil Gulati resigned as President, and General Manager positions were created for the men’s and women’s teams (the former being filled by former USMNTer Earnie Stewart, the search for the latter is underway).
But a year out from missing the World Cup, there’s still is a lot to be desired. As we noted this summer, the definition of the GM position left a lot of unanswered questions. Many fans have taken issue with the lack of a permanent coach, especially since the World Cup ended in July, and the formal interviewing process has just begun. They have found ticket prices for friendlies to be exorbitant. They haven’t seen the kind of transparency and structural changes they called for last October. We put out a questions to our followers – Where do you want to see this team in another year? To put it simply – one year after missing the World Cup, there’s still a lot of work to do.
Transparency from the federation . A plan to Unite the divided us soccer pyramid. An end to overpriced matches that drives the average fan away.
— andrew cowan (@andrewmyname12) October 9, 2018
Collective tenacity to win against all comers. Organized play with a clear understanding of how we’re going to approach games and never compromising on that
— Aaron Farquhar (@aaronfarquhar96) October 9, 2018
I hope we actually have a permanent coach….
— Erik (@ematt137) October 9, 2018
A year from now, I want to look back and see: Gold Cup 2019 Victory, CONCACAF U20 Championship, a run to the 2019 FIFA U20 Semi-Finals, New Manager, Implementation of a more possession/offensive-minded formation and tactics (4-3-3, 3-4-3, 4-2-3-1, etc.), MORE young players capped
— Nikolas Malechikos (@MrTimeAttack) October 9, 2018
— アレックス ロサノ (@Lex2018) October 9, 2018
But……still no coach, still no organizational direction. Will always love the USMNT but EXTREMELY frustrated with how non-chalant they appear to be in creating the new structure.
— Chris Murphy (@CMurphCoach) October 10, 2018
We also asked our members to share their stories of how ticket prices have affected their fandom. Here are just a few examples of what they had to say.
Hey @ussoccer this kid right here. He loves soccer. And thanks to your outrageous prices he won’t be going to any USMNT games soon. Is this how you plan to grow the game? #TicketAccess4All pic.twitter.com/bDuvkkaZ0z
— Carina Ibarra (@Aggie9) June 26, 2018
.@AmericanOutlaws if the tickets to my first match had been $78 dollars, I wouldn't be a soccer fan right now, much less a USMNT supporter. It's hard to convince a new fan to drop an entire day's wages on just the face value of the ticket #TicketAccess4All
— Holden Covington (@HCov1232) June 26, 2018
I have traveled the world supporting the USMNT, and am no stranger to high prices. BUT it is absolutely beyond my comprehension why a September friendly following a WC they failed to make costs more than some of the WCQ games?!?!?! ? #TicketAccess4All
— Jamie Bacon (@JMEmarieBACON) June 26, 2018
My hubby HATES soccer but after watching WC (w/o USMNT) he was keen 2 go 2 TN 4 the friendly. But he saw tix $ & said no $&@# way. I don't blame him. Y pay almost $100 for a game he is barely interested in? & never will be @ these prices. #NoFanGrowth #TicketAccess4All
— OutlawChelle (@chellebelleaz1) June 27, 2018
After the anger/sadness/melancholy/frustration has been somewhat tempered in the past year, all the problems documented above still need addressing. But…there is still reason for optimism – the guys on the field.
You have Weston McKennie scoring winners in the Champions League, Christian Pulisic being named one of the top U21 talents in the World, and new leaders like DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Miazga giving us new moments like this.
MATT MIAZGA LOVES US SHOWED IT BY PROVIDING THE GOOCH STARE DOWN FOR THIS GENERATION pic.twitter.com/bHcMTFrNPu
— The American Outlaws (@AmericanOutlaws) September 12, 2018
Yoo Yedlin has me dying over here, making fun of Neymar and his dives.
"Did you watch the World Cup???"
— Roger Gonzalez (@RGonzalezCBS) September 8, 2018
Many of these are guys who had nothing to do with what we saw transpire last year. They’re the reason we’re Here for the Future, and they’re working toward making this team the power it can be. Let’s do our part, too, and show them support in the ways that we can, and we will endure.