The Holidays are a time for family, a time to think get together with your loved ones and spend time together and exchange gifts. There’s the favorite brother who gets whatever he wants despite being a failchild that embarrasses the family on the international stage and gets more reward and recognition than the much more successful and talented sister. Then there’s the weird gifts from seldom seen family members plucked from the bargain rack that leave you wondering what exact purpose is served by having it for 415 days. There’s also always the family member who goes and has a normal one on social media and overshares about personal things... and more!
Luckily, US Soccer fans get all of that in one package - the gift of being a fan of the Stars and Stripes, let’s see what we got this year!
1... US Women’s National Team General Manager that needs to be hired
On the first day of Christmas, my true love, Carlos Cordeiro, gave to me... the feeling that absolutely nothing has changed and all his promises were empty and that I should really get out of this relationship before it destroys my life...
If you think the process to hire the new USMNT coach was a disingenuous charade, I’d like to entice you with a process that the Federation somehow seems less interested in. Apparently the USWNT needs a general manager, they just didn’t need one in 2018 as badly as the men did and since USSF is incapable of doing two hiring searches at one time the job will go unfilled until, presumably, 2019.
2... good nicknames
This is more of a wish than a gift and I cannot expect at all that the same group of marketing experts that came up with ‘One Nation, One Team’ is going to come up with anything other than something like the Super Eagles until they realize that one is taken, but USMNT, USWNT, USA, Stars and Stripes... they’re... OK - Men In Blazers tried to call the USMNT the Von Trapps when Jurgen Klinsmann was manager, but shockingly nobody thought that a joke from a 60 year old movie was funny or a good idea for a nickname so it didn’t stick... I’m tired of writing USMNT, USWNT, USA, Stars and Stripes and am not clever enough to come up with anything else so this might just go unfulfilled for another year.
That’s 30 - the number of goals that the three strikers called into National Team camp, Gyasi Zardes, Christian Ramirez, and Jeremy Ebobisse, scored in MLS this year, one less than Golden Boot winner Josef Martinez. The league is doing a tremendous job producing American attackers.
4(15) Days between Bruce Arena resigning and Gregg Berhalter being hired
415 days of false hope that US Soccer would make a good faith effort at hiring the new manager for the US Men’s National Team. Most gifts are fleeting and short lasting, but this one started giving in 2017 and didn’t stop through the World Cup and entire MLS season. Thank you for this wonderful gift US Soccer, your magnanimity knows no bounds and in no way shape or form is this a year of everyone’s lives that they wish they could have back to do completely over for the USMNT.
5... starts for Christian Pulisic in the Bundesliga for 2018-2019 so far
Sure, there are more starts in early round Champions League and initial Pokal Cup games, but five is not very many. Fighting for first team minutes is one thing but going somewhere you are wanted and those minutes actually come is another.
6... times the USWNT scored five or more goals in 2018
Santa brought goals for the the US Women this year. Six times in their 20 matches the team scored five or more goals. The fantastic year the team had started with a five goal performance against Denmark and included a run of four games in the Concacaf Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament where the team scored five or more against regional competition. All told, the team scored 65 goals this year.
Santa also put together all of the goals in this video...
7 goals from Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath
The USWNT is on an absolute tear having gone undefeated in 2018 and that’s thanks in no small part to Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath. The US Women won three tournaments this year thanks to two players who were seemingly falling out of favor with Jill Ellis after the failure in the 2016 Olympics, but the two veteran wingers from the 2015 World Cup run have established themselves on the USWNT and seem to be sure roster inclusions for the 2019 World Cup in France.
8... hundred (probably a lot more)
Times we heard announcers forgo giving interesting, well-researched, and competent analysis of World Cup games and got to hear someone yell SETPIECES over the summer. Sure, US Soccer didn’t exactly give this to us but if it wasn’t for SUM buying the rights to the World Cup and then selling them to Fox this never would have happened. Bob Ley didn’t die for this! Maybe they’ll learn some lessons and do better in 2019, or maybe they’ll just cover the World Cup like a NASCAR race again.
9... plus one
So it’s really 10 inches but the best highlight that the USMNT produced all year AND the best thing that he’s done in 2018 was Matt Miazga mocking Diego Lainez for being 10 inches shorter than him. Sure, Miazga is unwanted in France, Chelsea probably is forgetting why they bought him in the first place, and he’ll be headed to his fifth team since turning pro in 2013 presumably, but it was fun watching the USA beat Mexico even if it was a glorified SUM cash grab.
10... USWNT friendlies before the 2019 World Cup
Just think... 10 friendlies before the World Cup. 10 chances to pay what will probably be double if not triple what an actual World Cup ticket will cost. Thank you US Soccer, I can’t thank you enough for this.
11... goals the USMNT scored while being led by interim manager American Manager Dave Sarachan
Get the pipers piping! 11 goals, that must be so many, how many games did he manage anyway?
12... matches of the USMNT being led by interim manager American Manager Dave Sarachan
Oh. Wow. Really, you shouldn’t have.
NO REALLY, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE.
Truly a gift nobody asked for. While he wasn’t great and most of the matches against the higher profile opponents ended with the US getting totally outclassed and borderline embarrassed, it wasn’t a complete disaster. Sarachan managed to expand the player pool and break in some new and very well deserving talent while leading the USMNT. Still, he was like the house guest that you thought would just stay for a few weeks, maybe a month or two, you know, until everything comes together and bounces back. Fast forward to a year later and he’s still there, sleeping on your couch, eating your food, washing his socks in your sink for some reason, meanwhile his buddy Earnie promises that better things are coming and he’ll be gone soon.