The U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) missing out on the World Cup for 2018 wasn’t the end of the world for soccer in the United States…
Okay, so admittedly, it was about as close as you can get to the end, without actually being the end. At least, that’s what most people would want you to think.
Sure, the team missing out on playing against the best of the best, on the biggest stage in the world, can’t be dismissed as not an issue. The qualifying campaign started off on a rocky surface in the first place, with Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad selections coming to games flat, and appearing as though they had little to no motivation to even show up in the first place. Honestly, a lot of similarities to what the end of the campaign looked like.
That start improved for a short time, before a devastating loss to Costa Rica back home in the States earlier this year, and an even more disappointing end to the qualifying run, which the team looked set to conquer prior to the last game.
So, we didn’t qualify. Now what happens?
Well, just you let me tell you what happens. The future happens.
Recently, we all watched in wonder as we watched a U.S. (Male, our Women’s National Teams aren’t any strangers to winning) National Team win games, and do so in spectacular fashion. Though it definitely has been overshadowed by their elders losses at the professional level, the United States Youth National Teams have recently been quite the success story. Though there are many age groups in the U.S. system, the United States under-17 (U-17) team has been making waves in the international soccer scene.
Led by youngsters like Josh Sargent (Scott Gallagher Missouri, and at the start of the year moves to Werder Bremen), Timothy Weah (PSG), and Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United FC). the United States youth academies have begun to show their product, and on a national scale, the products are looking good.
The team went through their group stages, beating host team India 3-0, rival Ghana 1-0, and falling to Columbia in the final group stage game 3-1. The U.S. rebounded after their final group stage game, qualifying for the round of 16, and thrashing Paraguay 5-0, and advancing to the quarterfinals. The team bowed out to (now champions) England in the quarterfinals.
The results speak for themselves, and the U.S. youth academies, though the programs were mostly started just five years ago, the MLS academies are beginning to produce.
The end of the U-17 World Cup saw youngster Josh Sargent earning a signing by German side Werder Bremen, earning the silver boot in the tournament, as well as the team gaining key experience for it’s up-and-coming generation of players. Goalkeeper Justin Garces also became the first U.S. keeper to record three clean sheets at the U-17 World Cup. Though the senior team may have missed out on the World Cup, the youngsters looked promising, and one wonders what this first group of academy products will do in their time together.
Whatever the near future holds, and even with the dismaying reality of missing out on the 2018 World Cup, the mid-to-long-term future looks bright. In a time where the future of U.S. soccer is hazy due to the oncoming U.S. Soccer Presidential Election, with Sunil Gulati refusing to step down from his post, American soccer fans must look to the youth for something to smile about.
Christian Pulisic has made leaps and bounds of progress, and has launched himself into being an international starlet in a relatively short time, so most U.S. fans are asking one, and the same, question: who’s next for us?
More on that, soon. For now, U.S. Soccer fans, keep your heads up, and enjoy the ride. It won’t always be this bumpy, but a gut instinct tells me that it will all be worth it in the end.
For me? I believe.
***Check back to Sports Guys Blog for a more specific update on the U.S. Youth National Program and it’s players soon***