…Neymar’s final competitive game for Brazil ended in heartbreak today when the defending champions lost to the Clint Dempsey coached USMNT 3-1 in the final of the 2027 America’s Cup.
The USMNT who are starting to find their rhythm against their new regular opposition from South America became the first North American nation to win the revamped competition that saw the Gold Cup and Copa America combine to create a new championship that now rivals the UEFA Cup for the strongest competition outside of the FIFA World Cup…
After reading the hypothetical article recently posted on ESPN Soccernet as to whether the U.S. would be successful if it were drawn in Group A at the European Championships* (alongside Russia, Poland, Greece and the Czech Republic), we started creating our own hypotheticals as to whether some major changes at an international level would help in the development and ultimately future successes of the USMNT.
If we are being brutally honest here, CONCACAF is weaker than all the other confederations except for Oceania and is nothing more than a rubber stamp for World Cup Qualification. In a touch of irony the winner of the Oceania Play-Offs (presumably New Zealand) will play the 4th placed CONCACAF team which if all went terribly wrong could be the USMNT.
In 2005 (and after 30 years of lobbying) Australia was granted permission to leave the weaker Oceania Confederation and join the much stronger Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
This has led to better competition on a regular basis, better pathways for its club teams, more ability for its players to move overseas and develop their talents and it is no coincidence that since this move Australia has gone through one of its most successful phases of its international soccer history.
So continuing with the hypothetical nature of this post, what would be the realistic options for the USMNT? Do we continue down the path of almost guaranteed World Cup qualification and the usual outcomes of a final match-up against Mexico in the Gold Cup and be satisfied with that (and an eternity of possible international mediocrity)? Or do we follow the lead of Australia and look at the viable alternatives.
Personally we don’t think that moving confederations is a viable move given location etc. and it is important to note the competition is developing (especially in Canada) which will in turn improve the quality of future match-ups. It would also be a bad move in giving up a near certain World Cup spot (Australia was unique as it wanted a better chance of qualifying rather than the risks of playing off against South American teams in a two leg shootout).
So now that the confederation move has been taken off the table what other options are out there to help improve the experience and quality of the USMNT?
Our suggestions are one of two options that have much the same outcomes.
- The USMNT seek entry into the Copa America (not as a guest nation but as a team that goes through that qualification process; or (and this is our preferred option)
- That the Gold Cup and Copa America be combined into an expanded America’s Cup with teams from both confederations.
The benefits of these options are obvious as much as they are important. Firstly the new challenges of competing with Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay on a regular basis speak for themselves and the continued exposure to a new continental style of play will have an effect on our own style of play (hopefully an improvement).
Playing devil’s advocate to the devil’s advocate, we don’t believe it cheapens the CONCACAF zone as the USMNT team will still go through that World Cup qualifying process and our first suggestion would see the Gold Cup become more important to the lower ranked nations and therefore see them introduce systems to improve the quality of their own teams.
We always try not to go into too much detail as we prefer to foster genuine discussion as our contribution to #GrowTheGame. We would love to hear your thoughts on a possible America’s Cup or the possible entry of the USMNT (and presumably Mexico) into the Copa America Championships. Heck, we would also like to see if you think the USMNT would make it through Group A as mentioned at the start of the post. Just remember to use #GrowTheGame at the end of your tweets.
In conclusion and while on the subject of improving the quality of the USMNT it is important to acknowledge the new ambition and drive that USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann has brought to the national team. His penchant for seeking friendly matches against much stronger opposition has not gone unnoticed by fans and obviously he has highlighted the fact that friendlies against teams in the top 40-50 are more about results than development.
So don’t worry if we lose to Brazil and don’t raise expectations if we beat Italy – it’s the experience against world class players that will continue to see us improve. In the end all the fans want to see is the US reach its potential in the sport and challenge for major international honors in the future.