For USMNT and U23, Time To Move Forward

With a questionable set of games behind both teams, the teams look to upcoming matches
by Katherine Rupp   |   Wednesday, October 14, 2015

US Soccer Federation (USSF)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. And for the US men’s national team, it’s certainly not the best of times – at least for journalists and fans – but it still may be for coach Jurgen Klinsmann. With a 3-2 loss in the one-off CONCACAF Cup game, and rumblings within the soccer media that – even though Klinsmann is safe from being fired (that from US Soccer president Sunil Gulati) – there’s discontent with everyone in the soccersphere except for those in charge, it’s not doomsday but it’s not a bright day for US Soccer.

Additionally, as Klinsmann is not only head coach of the full national team, he is also the Technical Director for the men’s teams – this includes the US U-23 team that lost to Honduras 2-0 in a game that should have sealed the squad’s place for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. So although many people have been heavy on criticism regarding the USMNT, the German coach is also culpable for the not-yet-abject failure of also the US U-23 team – as it’ll certainly be a failure if the U23 team is unable to reach Rio for the Olympics.

The Baby Yanks – the U23 team – did, however, beat Canada to reach the home-and-away series slated for March with Colombia to get to Rio. All throughout Olympic qualifying, a handful of players have showed what they’re made of, especially Jerome Kiesewetter, Jordan Morris, and Wil Trapp. The three players, though in different stages in their playing careers, were able to come together for the squad and highlight what’s good about multiple ways of going about a soccer career. Kiesewetter – the 22-year-old – is at Stuttgart, Morris, 20, is a forward out of Stanford University, and Wil Trapp, the 22-year-old captain of the U23 team, is a midfielder – and mainstay – for Columbus Crew SC.

The USMNT not only lost 3-2 against Mexico, but they were taken down 1-0 to Costa Rica in Harrison, NJ, at Red Bull Arena on October 13th. Although it wasn’t a Friday, it somewhat felt like it as much of the team seemed to be at wit’s end with each other. That said, there are some lights poking through the dark tunnel that is the road the USMNT is on. Klinsmann, according to media members after the Costa Rica game, mentioned that he and the staff would look for younger players to bring up and integrate with the full team.

The aforementioned Kiesewetter, Morris, and Trapp may be solid young players that – probably not in 2016, and maybe not the next year – could (and should) be called up to the full national team. Markedly, Morris has accepted callups to the USMNT as he’s a man of many talents and can showcase his skill on any team, whether it’s a young national team or the USMNT. And with some players being played out of position and other players often injured or not on Klinsmann’s good side (specifically Fabian Johnson at the moment, but in the past has been Matt Besler, Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, etc.), the younger players may have their time to shine coming up sooner rather than later.

With friendlies finished and the next games coming up for the USMNT as World Cup Qualifiers (yes, already), the time for experimentation is pretty much over. And though the early WCQ games aren’t against top-side squads like Germany, Argentina, or Belgium, a USMNT team that’s experienced enough to play soccer on a cricket pitch will be needed, as will a young spark of talent and hopefully the cohesion of a team that has the winning vision. So even though the past few games for both the US U-23 team and the USMNT certainly haven’t been the best, it’s time to take a quick breather and, while remembering these unsettling matches, look ahead to the future and the task at hand.

Katherine RUPP

Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.