America went 75 years without a win on Mexican soil, and 82 years have passed since our only top-5 finish (3rd) in the World Cup. It’s safe to say that when it comes to soccer, the United States historically has been far from competitive. We are certainly above average, as the team has consistently been able to qualify for major tournaments, but we simply haven’t been able to compete with any powerhouse country.
The team, however, may finally be making strides in the right direction. Yesterday’s 1-0 defeat of Mexico put an end to America’s winless 75-year history on our southern neighbor’s soil, during which they had been outscored 81-14. Additionally, February’s 29’s 1-0 win was the team’s first ever against Euro 2102 runners up, Italy. In the past six months, USA is 6-1-2 and demanding respect from their international opponents.
The team does not have a true prolific scorer in its history, but their top-5 contributors have all played within the past 20 years. Team captain Landon Donovan has the most international goals in American history, and USA currently has five players on their roster that rank in the top 10. Clearly, America is catching up to our international competitors. We are skilled enough to give defenses trouble and are scoring at a higher rate than ever before. The fact that five current players are some of the country’s best ever proves that America is improving as a unit. One player is not carrying the team; rather the group is playing at a higher level and the standard of skill has dramatically risen in recent years.
Defense has also improved. Since 1990, the United States have seen their two best goalkeepers in Kasey Keller and Tim Howard. Keller is the country’s all-time wins leader with 53, and Howard, who is slowly catching him, is in second with 42. The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) has ranked Howard a top-10 goalkeeper in the world three times, and his recent play suggests he deserves a fourth.
In yesterday’s shutout of Mexico, Howard had two incredible saves while dealing with green laser lights being shone in his eyes, and many credited him for the win. Howard has anchored a defensive effort that boasts five shutouts and only two multi-goal letdowns in 16 games. Teams that used to effortlessly break through USA’s defense are facing more difficulty than ever before and world-class players are consistently being shut down.
Teams that used to effortlessly break through USA’s defense are facing more difficulty than ever before and world-class players are consistently being shut down.
Still, the players aren’t the only indication that USA has a bright future. Last June, the U.S. Soccer Federation hired Jurgen Klinsmann as head coach. The German native clearly has had a positive affect on the team and his impressive resume suggests America will continue to succeed. As a player, he was part of the West German team that won the 1990 World Cup and 1996 European Championship, and he scored in all six major international tournaments he participated in. After retiring, he coached the German national team to a third-place finish at the 2006 World Cup and Bayern Munich to a 25-9-9 record over one year. He is instilling a winning mentality in his team and puts a lot of trust in young players, suggesting that he’s building for the future.
More and more American players are making names for themselves and playing for competitive, European clubs. Just 20 years ago, Eric Wynalda became the first American-born player to play in Europe. Now, there are over 80 Americans in European leagues and many have seen a lot of success. It’s doubtful the United States will be a contender in the 2014 World Cup, but it’s clear the team has been taking massive strides in the right direction. Look for USA to start making noise in international tournaments and continue to improve for years to come.
Fan Hub Action
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
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