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US Soccer Vibe Check: Show us what you can do

2024 will be a year where actions will speak louder than words for both the US Men and Women

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SOCCER: NOV 16 USA vs Trinidad & Tobago Photo by David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As the New Year begins, the USMNT and USWNT find themselves with big ambitions and high expectations. For the men, 2024 will be a chance to show they have what it takes to be competitive at a high level. For the women, 2024 will be a chance to show they can set the tone for what being competitive means for the rest of the world.

Heading into 2024 the USMNT is finding that the player pool is shaking out as the winter transfer window chugs along. A number of players have made lateral moves or even arguably stepped back it would seem. Miles Robinson moved from MLS to MLS as he left Atlanta for Cincinnati while Brandon Vazquez and Cade Cowell went to LigaMX from the domestic league. Meanwhile, Zack Steffen, Djordje Mihailovic, and Sam Vines have returned from Europe to play for the Colorado Rapids.

Elsewhere some key players have settled into new teams as Christian Pulisic was recently named Serie A player of the month and Sergino Dest is an established starter at PSV. However, Folarin Balogun hasn’t settled in at Monaco just yet and it seems like Gio Reyna needs to move on from Borussia Dortmund.

With this in mind, there’s a twist on a familiar refrain ringing out into the New Year. In a recent article with the Athletic, Pulisic said “I want to show the world what the U.S. can do.” This is a welcome change from what has been said about changing the way the world looks at US Soccer, a topic Gregg Berhalter has made full-on Powerpoint presentations about. This summer will be a chance for the US Men to do that with the Copa America and Olympics.

It also seems like a change in mindset from caring about perceptions to caring about results. The team under Berhalter has met expectations but “to show the world what the U.S. can do” means making a deep run against top teams in a competitive tournament.

It’s a mindset that the US Women will also need to adopt as the 2024 Olympics loom. Following a disappointing 2023 World Cup, the team is in territory it has not experienced perhaps ever. In terms of adversity, the USWNT did bounce back from being runners up in the 2011 World Cup by winning Gold in London the following year. However, it was expected that the team would be favorites headed into the summer games.

This time things are different and the world has shown it has caught up. In response several players have struck out abroad and are seeking new challenges. Kristi Mewis headed to West Ham before the New Year and Emily Fox joined Arsenal this week. In an interview with the Guardian she noted that, “When I think of Arsenal, I think of excellence, I think of a global organisation, I think of family. I think of pushing the standards of football and especially in the women’s game.”

While the challenge in Europe for the US Women is different because the domestic leagues are not as deep, the international club competitions offer tough competition. In addition, going abroad means discomfort to some extent. Adopting to a new environment, different fans and changing travel situations brings unexpected challenges that playing in the NWSL does not provide. The USWNT got into a comfortable position as repeat World Cup winners. Shaking that off and finding new tests will be critical for the women to show the world what they can do.

At the end of the day, both teams need to show that they belong in 2024. The USMNT needs to show that it can challenge the top teams in the world while the USWNT needs to show that it hasn’t fallen behind and can be the dominant team it was for over a decade.