As the new year approaches, we introduced a fun little end of the year exercise on January 1st of 2016. We tried to come up with some bold predictions for the year to come. We’ll be doing that again for 2017, but first how about we take a look back and see how we did this year?
Here’s a look at our predictions in full and our reasoning. We got a little flack in the comments for our five predictions not being bold, but yet as you can see none of them really came to pass fully. Some did have a little merit, but none of the five were completely accurate. Let’s examine each individual prediction and talk about the reality:
1. The U-23's will qualify for Rio 2016 and perform surprisingly well
Oof. This one couldn’t have been more wrong. The U-23’s got off to an amazing start in their first leg against Colombia in the playoff for the spot in the Olympics by grinding out a draw away from home. All that was needed was a 0-0 result or a win in Dallas and a spot was theirs. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as Colombia just severely outclassed Andi Herzog’s side in the return leg. The U.S. gave up two away goals and fell short of Rio 2016. Missing yet another Olympics was a very embarrassing misstep for U.S. Soccer and one that they’ll be hoping to finally atone for in the next cycle. There’s no excuses here, we just swung and missed on this one. That’ll teach us to be optimistic...
2. The USMNT will win the rest of their 4th round World Cup qualifiers
Close but no cigar. As we mentioned in our reasoning for this one, Guatemala away would always be the possible stumbling block in the four remaining matches and it is indeed where Jurgen Klinsmann and the USMNT tripped up, losing 2-0.
While they took care of business in the final three matches to secure their spot in the Hex, that doesn’t do us any good in the world of bold predictions. Strike two for us.
3. The USMNT will crash out of the Copa America Centenario group stage
Nope. The Copa got off to a rough start against Colombia, but despite a tough group, the U.S. defeated Costa Rica and Paraguay to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals where they then beat Ecuador. Our memory is a bit blurry after that. Another strike.
4. 2016 will be Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard's last year as USMNT players
This one is the closest we came to correctly predicting one and still very well could. While our reasoning for Dempsey and Howard’s departure from the USMNT was a decline in form because of age, it could be injury and ailment that sees their national team careers end.
Clint Dempsey was forced to stop playing soccer all together in September when it his irregular heartbeat condition was discovered. The Seattle Sounders last public update is that they don’t know if or when he’ll ever play again. However, Bruce Arena is hopeful he’ll be ready to go as soon as January.
Tim Howard regained the starting job from Brad Guzan before sustaining a bad groin injury in the team’s first Hexagonal qualifier against Mexico. His status as starter remains to be seen with Arena’s arrival.
While it’s extremely likely that at least one of them will play for the USMNT in 2017, the book isn’t fully closed on this prediction just yet.
5. Someone not named Jozy Altidore or Clint Dempsey will lead the USMNT in goals for the year
We’re basically Tom Selleck in Japan at this point. Strike four. Jozy Altidore led the USMNT with six goals this year. Although, Bobby Wood did emerge as a new goal threat for the team with four. This same prediction for 2017 probably wouldn’t be bold at all with Wood and Jordan Morris getting closer and closer to becoming consistent impact players for the national team.
There we have it. 0 for 4 and likely a goose egg across the board. Hopefully our 2017 predictions will be a little bit better...