So, 2017 happened. It was definitely a year. And now, it’s a year gone past. And there was stuff that happened in this past year with the USMNT. Way, way back, in a different time, in an age known as “January”, I made a few bold predictions on what would happen in the calendar of 2017. And we are going to talk about what happened in the calendar year of 2017 (regardless of whether I want to or not) and how well my predictions held up. We are going to go ahead and get the worst over with and start at the bottom, especially since that was where everything bottomed out.
The USMNT will Beat Mexico in Azteca and Win the Hex
Do I have to talk about this?
So, technically, it was still possible for the USMNT to win the Hex back in January. It was definitely going to be hard, but it was definitely possible. And, you know, it really did seem like it could happen when the second set of qualifiers came around in March. The team absolutely hammered Honduras 6-0. And then, Michael Bradley went and scored a gorgeous stunner in the Stadio Azteca. A draw wasn’t exactly what I had predicted, but it was in the spirit of the prediction. You could count on one hand the number of times that the USMNT had gotten a result playing against Mexico in Mexico, nevermind Azteca, so grabbing a point in Mexico City was really quite something. If the US was able to see out the rest of the schedule, win at home and away against the worst team in the Hex, and Mexico dropped points in two games, we’d take the top spot.
And that’s almost exactly the opposite of what happened. The team screwed up in New Jersey against Costa Rica, and then hanged and quartered their self respect against Trinidad and Tobago.
I’m not bitter. I can’t be bitter. I’ve never even heard of this “bitter” thing. YOU are the one who’s bitter.
Jones, Howard, & Dempsey Will be Fully Phased Out of the USMNT
In retrospect, this one was kind of a gimme. All three players players were well into their declines, with Dempsey and Howard ruled out of any playing time due to their health, with the former suffering a heart condition and the later out with a groin strain. Nonetheless, thanks to the disaster against Trinidad, all three are definitely out of the plans for the national team. Jones hadn’t been called to the team since March. And, with the squad not going to the World Cup, there’s no big tournament to serve as one final hoorah. While it is possible that one or two of these players will get a send off or a testimonial of sorts in 2018, this book is almost certainly shut.
Bill Hamid Will Be the Starting Goalkeeper by Year’s End
This might have happened. Howard is almost certainly gone. Same with Rimando. It’s rather likely that Guzan will be following them. And that leaves a collection of young-to-youngish keepers to fight out who will be the starter going forward. The two names at the front of that list are Hamid and Ethan Horvath. Horvath had a howler in the last game against Portugal, so it looks like Hamid is currently on the top. We’ll have to wait until the new year is well under way to see if that indeed is the case.
And while we are on the topic of Bill Hamid...
Darlington Nagbe, Kekuta Manneh, & Bill Hamid will move to Europe over the Summer Window
I was somewhat right here. Hamid’s contract with DC United expired and, so, he left the club in the offseason to start the new year in Denmark with FC Midtjylland. It’s not quite the move I had expected of him (I don’t hold the Danish league to a particularly high regard — sorry Danes — and I had hoped he would go to Germany or France), but it’s still a move out of MLS and to Europe.
Kekuta Manneh also has moved on from MLS. After a rather disappointing season with the Columbus Crew, where Manneh didn’t get a whole lot of playing time, he’s moved on to Pachuca in Liga MX. Manneh received his citizenship earlier this year, but remained ineligible for the USMNT because he had not completed 5 years in the country after his 18th birthday (side note: yes, that FIFA rule is very poorly written). Because he has his citizenship, he is expected to be eligible for the USMNT within the year (and he should be eligible for a waiver nonetheless). So, he’s left MLS. But Mexico is not in Europe. I’m going to count it anyway.
That leaves Darlington Nagbe, who left the Portland Timbers for Atlanta United. Judging from their squad, with standout players like Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, and Carlos Carmona, this Atlanta is somewhere in South America, maybe Argentina or Uruguay or something. That must be the truth and I will not listen to anything otherwise.
The USMNT will Dominate Mexico 3-1 in the Gold Cup Final
So, this one didn’t happen. This time, it was Mexico falling short, as they were knocked out by Jamaica in the semi finals. Do I like that better than beating Mexico in the final? I’m not sure. But, either way, the USMNT was able to dispatch of the Jamaicans in what turned out to be a nervy, but still US-dominant, final.
The U-20 Men’s National Team will Win the U-20 World Cup
While this list certainly started dire, it definitely didn’t end that way. When I was making the original predictions, I wasn’t sure if it would be the U-20’s or the U-17’s who would make a splash in their respective youth world cups. In the end, I knew more about the U-20’s, so I went with them. As fate would have it, both teams would make impressive showings. Alas, neither team ultimately won the whole thing, but they did both run all the way to respectable finishes in the quarterfinals. Even better, players like Brooks Lennon, Luca de la Torre, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Justen Glad, Tim Weah, Andrew Carlton, and James Sands, among others, performed very, very well. Of course, the shining jewel for the youth teams was Josh Sargent, who jumped up to the U-20’s to slam in goals in the World Cup in South Korea, jumped back to the U-17 level to bang in another 3 goals at the U-17 World Cup in India, before receiving a call-up for the full national team. While he didn't get to play for the full senior team, Sargent still became the first person to ever play for those three teams in a single calendar year, AND tied Taylor Twellman for most goals in youth tournaments.
So that was 2017. How do you think I did with my predictions? Did your long shots play out? Tell us in the comments below.
So long and goodbye 2017.