I love that famous Yogi Berra saying: "It's like deja vu all over again." -- It seems like history has a way of repeating itself in the world of sports. Time goes by but trends and scenarios always come back around.
The United States Men's National Team is feeling the brunt of this reality right now. Three World Cup qualifers have been played and here they sit, an underwhelming 1-1-1 and third in Group C. After taking care of business against a CONCACAF minnow at home, they've struggled in two away qualifiers in Central America. Does this seem familiar? It should if you've been a supporter of the national team for longer than one World Cup cycle.
The struggles the current team is facing are almost an exact carbon copy of what Jurgen and his group went through four years ago at this very same stage of World Cup qualifying in 2012. After beating Antigua and Barbuda at home, they went on the road for back-to-back qualifiers. First against familiar foe Guatemala, where they were held to a 1-1 draw thanks to a late Marco Pappa free-kick. The next match day they went away to Jamaica. While everyone respected the Reggae Boyz, no one in their right mind expected them to pull off a 2-1 win against the USMNT like they did.
While the 2016 version of Guatemala pales in comparison to the talent that the 2012 Jamaica team boasted, the similarities are undeniable. Four points through three matches and panic mounting around the country about a possible early exit from World Cup qualifying. It's natural to have these sorts of feelings. The World Cup is the biggest sporting event on the planet. The USA missing out is something most of u can't even fathom as the vast majority of us weren't around in 1986, the last time they missed out.
The good news is, just like that 2012 team who won their final three matches to finish atop their group, the schedule is very favorable for this 2016 team. One USMNT legend isn't too worried about the possibility of missing out on the Hex. Landon Donovan sees yet another form of deja vu occurring with the 2016 team replicating its predecessor's finish.
Lots of upset @ussoccer fans today and understandably so. Remember, it's just one bad result and we will win the next 3 games and qualify— Landon Donovan (@landondonovan) March 26, 2016
Chances are that Landon is right and the U.S. will squeak by and get the job done to advance to the Hex. But is that enough to make USA supporters happy? Is getting the bare minimum result what it's all come to? We were promised more when Bob Bradley was sent packing. We were promised bigger and better, but so far we've been spinning our tires and ending up in the same spot we have been for the last four years.
Making it to the Hex is always the No. 1 goal for the USMNT in this round of qualifying, but making it this hard on ourselves is just a microcosm of the bigger picture under Jurgen Klinsmann's leadership. We were promised the sun and so far all we've gotten is a bunch of overcast days.