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Playing as the USMNT in Football Manager 2017

What would you do differently?

Football Manager is the leading management simulation game in the field. Its roots go all the way back to 1992, the latest edition (Football Manager 2017) was released earlier this month. I can only speak for myself when I say that the new edition is a great opportunity to figure out what you would do if you were in charge of the USMNT.

I’ve played the Football Manager series for a number years casually. I can’t claim to be someone who goes ultra deep into the experience. If you do, you will likely already know everything that I’ll say here. I hope that hardcore fans who haven’t given the game a chance will benefit from this review.

I decided to start as the manager of the USMNT in late July of this year. Typically when I’ve played the game in the past, I’ve started on the club side. I only have very limited experience managing national teams in Football Manager. It’s a different way to play the game, you don’t have all of the day to day responsibilities you do at the club level.

My game started on July 27, 2016. I first took a look at the national team pool that helps you keep track of possible call-ups. Some of the players in there were interesting to say the least. I cleaned it up, and also added some guys who were doing well with their clubs.

The menus were very easy to navigate and it was pretty easy to pick up some of the changes in this year’s edition of the game. The national team pool specifically was easy to use. Being able to look at the players’ current form was a great way to compare players at the same position.

In the game, the team was sitting pretty heading into the final two games of the the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying, so I had some flexibility to experiment. As I was preparing for those games, a news flash came across the social feed that Klinsmann was hired by Athletic Bilbao. Now that would be a fun team to follow...

The social feed is a great addition to the game in the new edition. It really makes your FM universe seem like a real one. I think this feed might be even more useful for national team managers, it was helpful in keeping up with the players in my national team pool and how they were doing at the club level.

The game engine is much improved in the new edition as well. The games feel like they have more drama and evoke more of a reaction. The referees using magic spray is a nice touch.

USMNT would agree with the realism of the game as I saw Jozy Altidore get injured in the first game. Darlington Nagbe was the star in my first two games, notching an assist in a 3-0 win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines and scoring two goals in a 2-1 win over Guatemala.

There are a few little things that detract from the realism of the game. Dom Dwyer was listed as eligible for the USMNT. Of course, I called him up immediately. The October friendlies were Russia away followed by Costa Rica at home four days later. That’s an absurd travel schedule, huh? Also, I found that I was unable to add friendlies in January. I’m assuming that was because they don’t fall on FIFA international dates.

The biggest surprise in my game so far is the 2022 World Cup being moved to China from Qatar “due to club protests about scheduling.” I’ll have to play around more on the club side to see the widely reported inclusion of Brexit in the game.

I also loved the increased detail you could give in tactical instructions. You can get pretty deep in the weeds in tactics in the new edition, it’s a lot of fun to experiment with and try to find every advantage you can over your opponent. The improved pre and post match reports are another great bonus. It’s easier to scout your opponents now.

With yesterday’s firing of Jurgen Klinsmann, it’s a good day to fire up Football Manager 2017 to see if you can do things differently. Thank you to the Sports Interactive Ltd. team and Alex Stuart at RGAA.