It was a sobering night in Texas for US Soccer and the Americans were giving a comprehensive thrashing by Argentina. The USA did not have a shot all night, on or off target.
While many in the soccer community will count the Copa America as a success, reaching the semi-finals, in the aftermath of the mauling in Houston it did not feel that way to Jurgen Klinsmann whi was asked to assess the size of the gap between his team and soccer’s elite and how long it will take to close it.
“Oh, that’s a tough one,” the coach said, smiling and chuckling. “I don’t have that answer right now.”
The relatively weak CONCACAF region provides the US with a false sense of success, They are one of only seven nations to have qualified for the last seven World Cup.
As have wins at Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. But those are friendlies. In matches that matter, agains the better teams in the world, the U.S. often remains outmatched.
“Today is a good day to judge where we are in program overall,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said outside the locker room.
“We’re obviously a long way off. We knew that going in. But we knew we were a long way off when we beat Spain in 2009 or Germany or Holland last year.”
Gulati and US Soccer must share in the blame here. Gulati has overseen a program where the U.S. under-23 team has failed to qualify for consecutive Olympics. The U-20 team has been a World Cup quarterfinalist just twice since 1993 and the U-17s haven’t reached the quarterfinals since 2005. That is simply not good enough.
“There will be always a step backwards, and then we will go two more forward. That is a part of our process,” Klinsmann said. “So I told the guys, heads up and just swallow it.”
Copa America Fixtures
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