Sometimes it seems like we only have criticism for the state of US Soccer. And to be fair, USSF and the NTs often do things deserving of criticism. But on this long weekend, let’s take a break and consider what we like about American soccer and the reasons we keep coming back to this sport.
I’m grateful primarily for two things this year: a federation willing to actually fill a schedule for its women’s team, and for Rose Lavelle. On the former, the USWNT played 16 games this year. Yes, USSF taking nearly every available FIFA window is as much about making that sweet cash and mayyybe padding some stats as it is about keeping the WNT sharp, especially considering the available opponents. But it’s better than a team that gets maybe two or three friendlies a year or none at all. As for Rose Lavelle, she signals the return of a true 10 to this team and if she can get healthy and stay healthy, she’ll be turning defenses on their heads in style in 2018.
Donald Wine II
This year, I’m grateful for a lot of things, but I’m most grateful for a future that is bright with the USMNT. Sure, we didn’t make the World Cup, but in a way, it leaves us time to really take in the future of this team. Christian Pulisic emerged as a breakout star and future leader, and with players like Josh Sargent, Timothy Weah, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Chris Durkin, Andrew Carleton, Shaq Moore and Cameron Carter-Vickers, the future is so bright. I can’t wait to see them develop and hopefully be a part of the national team we will see towards the end of 2018 and beyond.
I .. uh .. I’m thankful for our staff, who do a great job writing in these trying times. I’m thankful for the audience and commenters who provide good (for the most part) discussions on our posts. I’m thankful for Tyler Adams. I’m thankful for Atlanta United. I’m thankful for Tyler Adams. I’m thankful for still being alive, I guess. I’m thankful for Tyler Adams.
U.S. Soccer is like a big ole dysfunctional family. There’s the overperforming women that don’t get the credit, compensation, or media coverage that they deserve and who continue doing their work regardless. There is the generation of men that never lived up to their potential with a younger generation pushing themselves, hopefully, not to repeat the mistakes of their older predecessors. Sitting around the table is an overall structure that is rife with problems from a youth development system organized in self-interested silos to a top professional league that looks to be more concerned with its own well being than what’s best for the sport, and at the head of the table sits a federation level leadership structure that looks incapable of resolving these issues for now. This might seem negative for a post about being “thankful,” but I think there are opportunities there to make the sport better in this country, and I’m thankful that there are people working to make those changes a reality.
I’m thankful for the hopeful youth coming up through the system - Weston Mckennie, Tyler Adams, Josh Sargent, Jonathan Gonzalez to name a few. I’m thankful for the staff here at SSFC who have always made me feel welcome and the amazing writers they are. I’ve learned a lot over the past year here and always looking to learn more. I’m excited for what the new year is going to bring even if it isn’t going to the World Cup.
The epic convergence of awfulness leading to the USMNT’s ouster from the 2018 World Cup happened on my wife’s 40th birthday; I’m first of all thankful for her love and support through my writing a second soccer book. As this book is all about how the U.S. can win the World Cup, the loss to Trinidad & Tobago necessitated rewriting, but the premise—which I’m thankful for—remains intact. Specifically, I’m thankful for the Pulisic, McKennie, and Adams-led golden generation that should peak at a U.S.-hosted 2026 World Cup. As the recent friendly against Portugal showed, there’s a silver lining to missing out on this World Cup, in that this core of young players gets precious international caps and a chance to gel well before qualification for the Qatar-hosted (ugh) 2022 games, which the U.S. certainly won’t take for granted. I’m deferring my final giving of thanks for January camp, when we hopefully cap-tie Jonathan Gonzalez. To the future!