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Toxic Talk: You’ll Never Be Happy with the USMNT Edition

Welcome to Toxic Talk, where our resident hater tells you what sucks about soccer this week.

Panama v United States - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The second-to-last round of the games in the Hex went just about perfectly for the USMNT. They won big against Panama, catapulting themselves into the third and final automatic qualification position, they have a nearly unassailable goal differential in the instance of a tie-breaker, and Costa Rica stole points away from Honduras late, meaning the U.S. only needs a draw away to Trinidad & Tobago to get to Russia 2018.

And guess what? You’re still going to be pissed about it.

There’s no scenario here that satisfies the majority of U.S. fans. The U.S. could crush the last place Soca Warriors and emphatically seal up third place. This is very problematic for the #BruceOut crowd, the “missing the World Cup is actually good” people, and anybody who doesn’t want to see Chris Wondolowski, Gyasi Zardes, or Graham Zusi anywhere near the national team in 2018. I fall into at least one of those categories every single day of the week, and I’m guessing you do, too.

Maybe, and probably most likely, the U.S. squeaks out a narrow win or draw, the defense still looks relatively incompetent, and they still qualify for Russia. Now, all of the previous issues are still present, AND you need to confront the conclusion that the USMNT is just a bad team in general. The wins against Honduras and Panama at home were flashes in the pan from a team low on high-quality depth.

OR, maybe they royally screw the pooch in Trinidad, lose, and by some miracle of God Panama and Honduras beat Costa Rica and Mexico. The U.S. fail to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1990. A massive re-tooling of the program must take place.

Or that massive system overhaul doesn’t take place at all, because this is United States Soccer Federation we’re talking about. Basically, either Peter Vermes or Tab Ramos is getting this job next. Oscar Pareja and Jesse Marsch have effectively coached themselves out of contention for the job, and barring some dynamite coach from Europe suddenly becomine A) available, and B) interested in the job. And maybe that happens, but maybe it doesn’t, and at that point you have a 50% chance of seeing Graham Zusi at right back for another World Cup cycle. And as idealistically as we might view a Tab Ramos management tenure, remember that the last time we had a coach that was going to completely overhaul the U.S. program, we ended our World Cup campaign with Chris Wondolowski on the field.

Look on your program and despair.

Boiling Points

  • Hungary and...whatever it was this keeper was doing


  • A World Cup without Messi

Nothing’s settled yet, but it sure looks like 2018 will be a World Cup without Argentina. Just imagine how we would talk about Lionel Messi if not for all of this:

I’m not crying.

It’s just raining in here.

My eyes are sweaty.

  • Christian Pulisic’s Tattoo game

That’s a choice.

  • When you’re at Epcot and you know the SWAT Team