Copa America match report: USMNT 0-2 Colombia

The first major international men’s soccer tournament the United States has hosted since the 1994 World Cup kicked off with the US Men’s National Team falling to Colombia 2-0 in 100 degree heat in front of a sellout crowd of 67,439 fans.

But it was only the half of the stadium supporting Colombia that had much to cheer about, as the visitors spoiled the party with a comprehensive 2-0 win.

Cristian Zapata wasted little time opening the scoring, blasting home a corner with his right foot in the seventh minute. DeAndre Yedlin conceded a penalty kick from a handball in the 42nd minute and James Rodriguez finished it cooly, effectively ending the match. The United States showed little offensive punch as they chased an equalizer throughout the second half.

Speaking to the press after the game, Jurgen Klinsmann declared that “we were absolutely okay with the team performance.” The embattled U.S. manager went on to say that “overall, we were totally even.”

First half

The opening minutes were physical, and Colombia soon sent their yellow-clad fans into raptures with the first goal of the Copa American Centenario. An outswinging corner was curled perfectly to the foot of Cristian Zapata, who volleyed coolly past a helpless Brad Guzan.

“It hurts to go down so early, in a big game, early on in a tournament,” United States captain Michael Bradley said after the game. You don’t want to put yourself behind the eight ball right away, and obviously we did that.”

The United States, cut open so early, built their way to stability by attempting to maintain possession. Colombia sat back and quite effectively frustrated Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad for much of the half.

With little coming from the run of play, the United States looked to create opportunities as they won set pieces in good positions. Both Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson were wasteful, however, firing into the wall. Michael Bradley compounded a poor showing with several attempts finding no head.

The best chance of the half came from Dempsey collecting the ball near midfield and driving at goal, unleashing a shot that would have beaten David Ospina but spun inches wide of the post.

Just before halftime, Los Cafeteros struck again. After Bradley was dispossessed in midfield, a cross sent into the box struck the outstretched hand of DeAndre Yedlin. It was a penalty, and Colombia captain James Rodriguez made no mistake from the spot. Sending Guzan the wrong way, he swept the ball into the left corner and raced off to meet a dancing collection of his teammates near the corner flag.

“I’ve seen them called, I’ve seen them not called,” the young right back said after the game. “You’ve gotta move on from those kinds of things and try to get back in the game.”

Despite holding 56 percent of possession, the United States managed no shots on goal in the half and entered the locker room trailing 2-0.

Second half

The Colombia fans sent cheers of “ole!” around the stadium early in the second half, as their heroes held the ball at will. Carlos Bacca’s extremely hopeful bicycle kick summarized the visitors’ attitude, as they toyed with a passive American defense.

The home side’s first chance came off a corner kick. Dempsey fired a powerful header low and on frame, but Sebastian Perez bailed out a stranded David Ospina with a two-footed save off the line.

Dempsey, suddenly lively, challenged Ospina from a free kick. His cannon blast looked destined for the top corner, but Colombia’s keeper went to full stretch to deny the shot.

Jurgen Klinsmann introduced Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic in the 66th minute, replacing the largely ineffective Bobby Wood and Jermaine Jones. James Rodriguez suffered a shoulder injury soon after and was replaced by Guillermo Celis.

The substitutes had little effect on the match, with the visitors content to sit back and counter. They nearly extended the lead to three when Carlos Bacca was played in behind the defense, but Brad Guzan made himself big enough to force the striker to lift his shot, and it rattled off the crossbar to safety.

The match (as tournament contests tend to do) petered out in the final fifteen minutes. Fans made for the exits, looking to beat the nightmarish South Bay traffic. They missed little more than the pleasures of a slowly cooling evening and the peaceful colors of an early summer sky.

All in all, it was a very poor performance from the United States. The defense made critical mistakes, the midfield was less than incisive, and the forwards — save Dempsey — lacked intelligence and desire. While losing to Colombia is not something to be ashamed of, the manner in which it happened was disheartening.

After the match, Klinsmann opined that “there was no difference [between the U.S. and Colombia] besides the two goals.” Two things are worth noting about this statement. Firstly, goals are ultimately what separates winning teams from losing teams. Secondly, Klinsmann’s words seemed ill-fitting after a match where the United States were so clearly second best.

Time will tell whether Klinsmann’s evaluation proves accurate.

The United States will play their second game in Group A on Tuesday in Chicago, where they’ll take on Costa Rica. Kickoff is at 8 PM EST.

Philly Soccer Page’s West Coast Bureau will have coverage of the other two group games in Santa Clara next week: Argentina v. Chile on Monday, and Jamaica v. Uruguay on Friday.

USA (Player rating in parentheses)
Brad Guzan (4), DeAndre Yedlin (4), Geoff Cameron (4), John Brooks (5), Fabian Johnson (4), Michael Bradley (3), Jermaine Jones (4) (Darlington Nagbe 66′ (5)), Alejandro Bedoya (3) (Graham Zusi 83′ (n/a)), Bobby Wood (2) (Christian Pulisic 66′ (5)), Clint Dempsey (6), Gyasi Zardes (2).

David Ospina, Santiago Arias, Cristian Zapata, Jeison Murillo, Farid Diaz, Sebastian Perez (Carlos Sanchez 86′), Daniel Torres, Juan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez (Guillermo Ceris 72′), Edwin Cardona, Carlos Bacca (Dayro Moreno 88′).

Scoring summary
COL: Cristian Zapata (Edwin Cardona) — 7′
COL: James Rodriguez (penalty) — 42′

Disciplinary summary
US: Alejandro Bedoya — 57′

USA Colombia
 12 Shots 13
2 Shots on Target 7
 6 Shots off Target 4
 4 Blocked Shots 2
4 Corner Kicks 3
 13 Crosses  10
 1 Offsides  3
12 Fouls  14
 1 Yellow Cards 0
 0 Red Cards 0
495 Total Passes 438
 84% Passing Accuracy 84%
 53.4% Possession  46.6%
 41 Duels Won 46
47.1% Duels Won %  52.9%
 9 Tackles Won 11
 5 Saves  1
 10 Clearances  23


  1. Performance as expected under Klinsmann. On to the next loss.

  2. Lucky Striker says:

    I don’t claim to follow USMNT at all……..and I don’t take Americans seriously on the international soccer stage-so please forgive my ignorance.

    Still; it occurs to me that for all the “euro pc wannabes” that must exist given the various commentaries perused……

    there would be more heat given to any side coached by a man named Jurgen Klansmann that consistently struggles to keep clean sheets.

  3. Jobi Cones says:

    That was boring to watch. How much longer until the Union play again?

  4. Which was the more embarrassing performance: the team’s game or the coach’s press conference. Evenly matched, JK? No. COL was never seriously threatened. We were given possession because we couldn’t caoitalize. A measly 2 shots on goal. Wasted free kicks. Missed passes from miscommunication. Teammates making the same play and getting in each other’s way. Bradley had as bad a game as I remember. Fabian needed to be on wing. The crossbar could save us if advancing comes down to goal differential.

  5. Out classed by a strong South American team with most players playing at top tier European clubs…while the US relies on mls players at their most important positions….I love mls I really do, but we need our national team to be full of players playing at the highest level if we ever expect to compete with top end South American and European teams

    • This team is so uninspiring to watch. And I would not blame the mls’rs, though I do not think we necessarily have all the right mls’rs.
      This is clearly not a team that is playing for each other or the coach.
      Last night was a failure on fundamentals: passing, free kicks, pressure, etc
      COL looked like a “team”, we did not.
      I hope we do not get embarrassed as badly as I feel we will be this tournament.
      Such play hurts US soccer as a whole since this tournamnet is a very visible to “casual” fans.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Yup. To blame MLS when a majority of your starters are playing in the top leagues of Europe makes no sense especially when your most dangerous attacking player last night (Dempsey), plays in MLS.

        Tactics and structure of your team is so important in international play. The manager doesn’t have long periods of time with the squad to let the players “figure it out on their own” and needs to provide structure to the side so the players can play somewhat cohesively. The US team doesn’t have this now so you see instances of players not being on the same page during the match (e.g. – 1-2 players high pressing while others sit deep). Players react in different ways to have a poor manager or flawed tactics which delivers performances like this.

    • philpill says:

      I believe we have the talent, but not the discipline because our manager plays yoo many different formstions with different personnel, some not at their natural position. So we look disorganized, scramble back and cannot run plays effectively against the best teams in the world.

  6. The Little Fish says:

    It’s a shame. For a while I thought we were evenly matched but as the game progressed it was pretty clear that we just didn’t have it. Bradley is really struggling. Jermaine Jones was not able to impose himself. Zardes? Reminded me of a bad Altidore performance. With all the lineup and positional ‘scrambling’ Klinsman has done I honestly have no idea what we have. #dicombobulatedsquad

    • How does Zardes get pushed off the ball so easily does he not care?

      • alicat215 says:

        A lot of our guys got tossed around like rag dolls last night…….Zardes, Wood, and Bedoya come immediately to mind

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Part of all this I believe speaks to exactly what JK railed against the player pool about~ a lack of hunger and drive which manifests itself when playing against NT built with players that have the internal drive to be great.

      • alicat215 says:

        Upbringing……what they lived through, the neighborhoods, the culture…before they joined the academies…..we talk about it all the time you and I…..hunger. The actual idea that if I don’t succeed me and my future generations are screwed……

      • philpillas says:

        It was a predictably physical game. I don’t believe it’s lack of desire but lack of confidence. Going down so quickly made it worse. Perfect service on that corner. If Cameron fought through the pick he would have been late, too. A bang-bang play. The job of a manager of professionals is to get the most of his team. I thought JK did that at WC. No longer.

  7. Alicat215 says:

    Clearly overmatched. Besides being better technically, Colombia just seemed like a bunch of race horses compared to our players…..athletically superior as well. Bradley and Jones have passed their ‘”sell by” date, they were way to slow of pace and thought out there. Yedlin plays all balls and no brains, Bobby Wood was clearly in over his head…..again, the pace was too much for him. And if you are down two coming out, what the hell are you going to sit back for and let Columbia just ping it around? PRESS, get that damn ball back…but no, we meet them at midfield and turn it into a training exercise for them. Many things to be concerned about after this match…….

    • Zizouisgod says:

      It was almost like the US was protecting a two goal lead at the beginning of the 2nd half rather than playing on the front foot and trying to get back into the match.

      • Alicat215 says:

        I honestly hope this tournament is the curtain call for Dempsey, Jones, and Bradley. Their service to the MNT has been invaluable, don’t get me wrong….but tournament football is all about pace and youth and these guys don’t have it now….they will not regain it for Russia. A new cycle of players is needed for MNT. Bring the kids up! It’s their time now….and their pedigree is better too. Your going to play 4-3-3 with two aging MLS guys in your engine room against Columbia, one of the best on the planet right now? Come on.

      • Alicat215 says:

        And it can’t take you 20 minutes to settle into a match during a Copa America, World Cup, Confed Cup, etc……..time doesn’t allow it. You need to come out guns a blazing, and dictate the pace. Especially, when you are the host….what is that?

  8. alicat215 says:

    Last week I watched a brash, young Aussie squad take it to the Brits, at Wembley. They lost 2-1, but they ran the English the whole match and it didn’t go unnoticed, The Aussie’s were playing their kids, who they call their “golden generation”. Yes friendly versus major international….but they still brought a bunch of kids to the home of football and they didn’t back down…..just something to think about.

  9. Dempsey cannot be a center forward. He dropped too deep while Wood and Zardes had defensive duties on the wing. All together that lead to no options in attack. There was no outlet, no focal point in the final third.
    I’ll give the team credit a bit that they did not give up much in the run of play but then again Colombia got an early goal so I’m not sure they pushed the game for another.
    This was the toughest game of the group for the US so I’m hoping they can turn it around.

    • +1
      Totally confused as to why JK thinks he has the manpower to play 4-3-3. He must have been watching Barcelona and Real Madrid too much.
      Problems with this formation for USMNT:
      1) Dempsey wont chase and is too old to do it anyway so defenders with ball are under no pressure
      2) Wood and Zardes have the speed and youth to chase, but they are stuck on the wings
      3) Bradley is not good enough for 3 man midfield
      4) Jones is not good enough for 3 man midfield
      5) Yedlin gets neutered because he has to stay home and cant make deep runs with no holding midfield
      6) Johnson also has to stay home and cant make deep runs with no holding midfield

      Would have much preferred 4-4-2/4-1-3-2 with Bradley at back of diamond midfield and Dempsey at top of it.
      Nagbe should start for Jones.
      Bedoya was the only US player that I thought had a good game.

  10. el Pachyderm says:

    If there has ever been a US player to display the deleterious effects MLS has on your game it is Michael Bradley who has been steadily declining in sharpness since returning to America. His work rate remains but when forced to play against world class competition he is unable to deliver a level of play commensurate. This is not coincidence. Some will argue it is. They are deluding themselves.
    Argue all you want Fanboys… The league is a parasite sucking life out of our supposed best players.

    • pragmatist says:

      You’re right. Let’s fold the league now. It’s a waste of time.

      • alicat215 says:

        I think he’s saying our best shouldn’t be plying their trade here Stateside…….that’s all. He’s right too!

      • UnionGoal says:

        Alicat and El P,
        To say our best shouldn’t waste their time in MLS, or to completely bash MLS and dismiss it, won’t grow the sport here.
        MLS as much as it isn’t beautiful to watch to purists (aka Curtin’s “EuroSnobs”) or perfect in execution of their weird transfer policies and everything else, is still growing the sport in America.
        Premier League and Ronaldo/Messi are huge, no doubt, but average fan can’t go watch them in person.
        My son would rather go to Union game than watch El Clasico on tv or even versus watching most soccer on tv, because live is more fun.
        If you want to inspire next generation you need MLS, players locally available to young fans or those young fans will shift their attention to the other big 4 sports or even up and coming sports.

      • alicat215 says:

        Yo dude, 1st I never bashed MLS, I just stated our BEST should play abroad…..if your that insecure about it…..fine, call it bashing. To quote Curtin’s euro snobs line is comical……because in his line of work euro snob translates to “someone who sees through the bull shit”..,.and for him directly it means guys who know a lot more, and get paid a lot more than him. If your son would rather watch a MLS match than an El Clasico…..that’s on you guys. Maybe when little Johnny is on a C division club team and deciding which college club soccer program has the most fun….you might want to revisit this. Your kid should be modeling Messi……not Brian Carroll……Lol! If your worried a bout losing kids to other sports…….they are not true ballers anyway.

      • der Fussballzuschauer says:

        “because in his line of work, euro snob translates to ‘someone who sees directly through the bull shit'” … Awesome! … Many thanks for saying what has long been needed to be said here!!!

      • UnionGoal says:

        Not sure why you took offense. And I do get your point guys should try different leagues.
        However, I think you missed mine–my son would rather watch a live game than one on tv—excitement of being there. Of course he’d rather meet Messi or Suarez than Brian Carroll but chances are slim right now for him to meet either of the first two. He did meet and had a blast kicking soccer balls with Fred at an event at PPL last summer and hangs the pic in his room.
        So…while you and I might prefer El Clasico on TV vs going to Union game, recognizing the “better game”, he’d rather go to the union game, and then watch el clasico after. BTW, seeing as this has never been an option, he hasn’t missed an El Clasico in last 4 years.
        While you and I may agree on many points and just come at different ways, I completely and utterly disagree with your last line.
        Many kids and adults might prefer to watch Super Bowl over basketball game, or play a basketball game over watching an NFL game. Most athletes play, watch and enjoy multiple sports.
        Urban Meyer has great graphic of his team that shows most of his team played multiple sports in HS. Does that mean they aren’t true “Footballers”?
        I do share Curtin’s frustration that hey, he is in first place when most people didn’t expect Union to get out of the basement and yet he is still being criticized. Much like Real Madrid players having eggs thrown at their car when after winning 22 straight matches they had 2-3 draws and a loss.
        Step back a minute and enjoy the moment.
        Have to go, but again no offense to you, sorry if you took it.
        Enjoy the Union and watching other teams at the Euros and Copas. We do agree the USMNT isn’t fun to watch!


      • alicat215 says:

        Also UnionGoal, if I were Italian, I would think the best Italians should get out of SerieA, if I were Russian….I would want the best Russians to play abroad. If I were Swedish…….see what I’m getting at? All of these countries have domestic leagues….some of them flourish too…..but if it’s not constantly pushing and testing your best……is it good for their game?

    • Would totally agree if our guys were good enough to start in those premier leagues. They are mostly not though.
      So then there is the question, are they better off training with the best players and coaches in the world and not playing in games? Or are they better off being in a lower league where the players and coaches are not as good but they start and play most of each game?
      Bradley and Dempsey are also getting older and that is not a battle any of us win.

      • Alicat215 says:

        you need matches to test your meddle. You can have all the top notch training, 6 days a week…but you need matches under your belt. It’s the same issue with a lot of the academy kids here Stateside. So, in short, no it doesn’t help. Keep in mind, they are never sitting……they are playing matches with the reserves, 23’s, 21’s, 17’s etc. But it still isn’t the same. If I were sitting at a good European club, I would pursue my options before returning to MLS.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      So the players that were directly responsible for Colombia’s goals play in the EPL, does that mean that their subpar play is solely attributable to the EPL not keeping them sharp? What about Johnson, Bedoya, Brooks, etc? They all play in top European leagues as well.

      The answer is “no, of course not”, but it highlights how flimsy your theory (read – opinion) is. It’s like saying that when Messi plays bad for Argentina (which has happened quite a bit BTW), it’s because the play in La Liga is suboptimal. Things are a lot more nuanced than going for that type of convenient narrative.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Everything is nuance. Everything. There is no one solution… It is also pretty hard to argue that Michael Bradley’s game has dropped off significantly the last few years… which is exactly the amount of time he’s been back in MLS… and comparing Messi who u seem to think has played badly for country while pretty much carrying his team to a World Cup final to a suboptimal La Liga is absurd. It’s apples and oranges.
        I guess you probably think either MB is playing fine or more likely that he’s now old which explains his drop off in form. Which is just as silly.
        There is no one solution…

      • Bradley was excellent last summer against the Dutch and the Germans in those two friendlies. He played so well I thought it was the heel injury that he was carrying for awhile that had been affecting his poor play. Last night he looked like the Toronto FC Bradley: poor, slow-to-develop passes that were obvious and easy to intercept.

      • old soccer coach says:

        probably the passing refelcts the mental processes he unconsciously adopts to play effectively with his teammates at TFC.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        I didn’t compare Bradley to Messi, I merely used it to make a point how one could use your argument to support an off-base narrative.

        And for the record, I didn’t think that Bradley has played particularly well, but that can be due to a variety of factors rather than just the one that you state which also supports your own beliefs about MLS.

      • Alicat215 says:

        Cameron, besides the under 10 pick, played a pretty solid match, IMHO. So did Johnson. Yedlin’s a different story. I honestly thought Cameron, Brooks, and Johnson played decent matches……Yedlin, not so much. The real problems, besides Yedlin last night, were the next two levels up the pitch. Columbia was glad to just absorb pressure after they went up, they were pretty confident we weren’t going to penetrate. I honestly await the days of a midfield of that consists of the likes of the Pulisics, Zalalems, and Hydmans we have in the ranks. Like I said in a previous post here, I hope this tournament is a curtain call for Bradley, Jones, Dempsey and the rest of that generation of players. Altidore, can give you a few more just because he’s a target/box forward…and the demand isn’t the same. Plus, I don’t see many target forwards in the system that fill the requirements. I hope JK explores other options after this tournament, if he’s still employed.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        I thought that Cameron played pretty well also. Was just using his mistake to make a point.

  11. John P O'Donnell says:

    Hopefully when pro/rel comes all this will be cured. I mean why should we go through growing pains with a league that has been on stable ground for over five years now? I’m sure networks looking to work with MLS will completely understand when there are no guarantees that games will be played in major markets. Since we already see how state and city governments are quick to approve SSS when teams are willing to pay for it, the time is right for pro/rel. Just look how things are cruising through the governmental process in New York with the Cosmos and in Miami with David Beckham. I’m sure none of the soccer hating politicians will say a word when projections based on D1 or D2 status will matter. You see what’s important is winning the World Cup and pro/rel will let that happen. With this chance at the highest level teams will start academies and there well be no more pay to play. So those three million register super stars in the waiting will become the very best as new teams pick up the tab which only averages $2,000 a player or 6 billion a year for all of them. Of course that number of players still rise as more kids will join now that they don’t have to worryry about fees. I’m sure we can get this all done by 2018 just in time to get the networks to renegotiate that current tv contract to NFL levels. Now let’s all start going to those Philadelphia Fury game’s so we can truly enjoy the ride of coming up through every division now that they have a chance.

    The tonic…it’s delicious.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Well done.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        By the way…. I’m for pro/rel but have never argued it’s a panacea… you know what is more of a cure all- paying clubs for developing talent but our precious MLS isnt even able to part with that money. Funny all I ever read are your rebuts to my POV seldom ever offering anything yourself as workable solution. Fair? Course maybe you think it is all lovely and you’re just happy to be here.
        This is a place for ideas… to broaden scope of understanding at a critical juncture in the growth of the game stateside. I just keep allowing myself to get sucked in but tend to be complimentary along the way at plenty of points.

      • old soccer coach says:

        spellcheckers can be the pits. “complimentary” or “complementary”?
        both are possible given the context, hence my desire to resolve the ambiguity, please?

  12. John P O'Donnell says:

    My solution is let the market set the course as it currently does. If I look at my favorite team, the Union, it’s easy to find fault with everything they’ve done. But if I was to sit back from day one, which was before the we even had a team and close to a decade ago, I look back in amazement. Yes we got the team & stadium and no the surrounding area hasn’t been developed. But we’ve went from practicing in a public park to two fields on a parking lot. They’ve rehabed a building for a training facility and somehow fired an owner. They’ve found away to build an academy with a school, something I’m still amazed at. All the while being one of the poorer teams in the league.

    To think NASL & USL teams will be able to build a better mouse trap without the help of single entity (revenue sharing) is….well it’s wishing on an unknown. Truthfully, I don’t want pro/rel, never did. I think MLS should become more like the NFL in terms of each team running their franchise how they see fit. Get rid of the silly rules for player acquisition and institute a salary cap like the NHL.

    Teams should also be able to recruit for they’re academy from anywhere in the US just like a college and use a second team like baseball does for a minor league. If a player leaves the academy for college, they should lose the rights to the player one month after they leave school.

    The last thing is I would like USSF to get rid of their insane rules about who can challenge to be a D1 league for everything but the amount of money the owner needs to run the team. I think if NASL can challenge MLS the acceleration process will move us further along then pro/rel ever could.

    But that’s just me.

    • John P O'Donnell says:

      I hate autocorrect. Their academy.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Great points.

    • Alicat215 says:

      You know it’s funny, I’m also a Pro/Rel guy……but I found your comment interesting for one reason. As a Pro/Rel guy, I am also a realist and know it’s a fantasy at this point…..especially if we didn’t start that way….and for all the reasons you mentioned. So, if I’m to go down your road and say, ok…no pro/rel, how do we optimize this thing called MLS? MLB has always been my default, it seems the way pro baseball is set up…has some correlations to how a footy league could thrive as well. I’m still Pro/Rel and want to see clubs compensated for player development, but I realize it’s along shot. Lastly, and this is more ideological, I guess…….but when you say let market forces dictate, which I’m all for, how can you use American sports as a model? It’s anti thesis to the free market……rules for parity and salary, our sports are little socialist entities, in reality. The true free market is how they run footy in Europe……isn’t it? It’s true survival of the fittest…..the best players and deepest pockets prevail( that’s what makes a story like Leicester awesome).

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        Yea I understand American sports isn’t a free market in the purist sense but it is the market we understand for sports. What I mean by market is the sports market. We constantly hear the phrase, the four major sports. Recently there seems to be a shift with 12-24 old’s as soccer has moved up in the pecking order.

        The league is still in the middle of expansion and NASL is as well. Who knows what USL will finish up at as they’ve doubled in size quite rapidly. Also NASL & USL have let it be known that they like to move up a division. This is what I meant when I said let them set the course.

        MLS has continually adapted as they’ve seen what’s needed to grow the league. DP’S, TAM & GAM being examples. Eventually I can see these being done away with in a collective bargaining agreement in the future. If it’s like most major leagues in the US they should finish expanding at 30 to 32 teams.

        I do believe NASL wants to be a D1 competitor and have pro/rel with a current amateur fourth division & USL could get to 60 teams and split into conferences that only meet in the playoffs.

        See that’s the thing, it could go a lot of different ways and forcing pro/rel on this market just doesn’t make sense to me as every league has different objectives right now.

      • alicat215 says:

        The hipsters love soccer……..

      • el Pachydem says:

        I appreciate the thinking and I guess I find myself arguing so vehemently for pro/rel but really what I most would like to see is NASL be granted fist tier status… in whatever form needed and then I tend to agree- let the market do what it wants to do. I agree the following of the game can be viewed as tenuous, though I think quite robust personally, what I’d like to see is the 3rd and 4th tier be given the opportunity to grow as it sees fit with the opportunities to advance to higher leagues even if that does not ultimately include MLS.
        If that happened I’d be pretty stoked as a starting point to really grassroots growing the game.
        then MLS started actually incentivizing development of youth players makes it even better…
        I appreciate your ell thought out solution.

  13. UnionGoal says:

    Interesting ideas.
    I am not going to say you are right or wrong, or that El P is right or wrong. They are ideas.
    My personal approach that might be more practical than Pro/Rel, or waiting on MLS to be in position where they are comparable to baseball with its minor leagues, is to build high school soccer.
    1. Answer to “pay to play” in that no HS student “pays” to be on the soccer team—and inner city schools compete with suburban schools in other sports.
    2. High school sports build love of the game—for kids it is social status–every kid wants to “letter” for their school.
    3. Has to be Fall/Spring season so games spread out.
    4. Kids that don’t make pros have better opportunity for college.

    Right now the academy teams boys and now girls, do not allow kids to play for their high schools, but stories abound of academy students leaving to play their junior or senior years for their high schools. Let’s face it, high school athletes want to play for their schools. And prior to late 2000’s, many of our soccer stars proudly played high school sports.
    And I am sure it was a factor in athletes like Odell Beckham choosing other sports over soccer.

    As far as USMNT—Klinsmann–nothing else to say. Don’t try to paint brush all that’s wrong on Americans, MLS, etc. One guy owns this and sooner he is gone, the better USMNT will become.


    • Alicat215 says:

      UnionGoal, I don’t know if your solution about high school ball is the answer….but I sympathize. I think the academies killed HS soccer. Imagine taking the best 80-100 players out of the area and telling them not to play high school ball for any other sport….it would hurt it immensely. I think only the MLS clubs should have the rule….or if your a full time boarding situation like IMG or Shattucks St. Mary’s. I think it’s crazy that the other academies outside the MLS can have parents pay…and dictate terms like that. I hear every year that the DA may change the rule along those lines. We shall see. Many, of those kids once they sign, come out and play their senior years anyway…….but still, not all do. An increasing number of college coaches tell them to stay in the academy, a lot depends on who the HS coach is and the pedigree of the program. They have the kids in a pickle because they want the Friday night lights….but the 50 to 100 people watching the academy matches are college and pro scouts. Have we got any better? I’ve watched a lot of youth matches…to me, the academy has produced a lot more technically and tactically astute, mediocre footballers….more than we have ever had! But we still aren’t producing kids with that confidence to unlock a defense….or to improvise when in trouble. Part of me believes the full time kids actually did this better in the 90’s when I was coming up!

    • el Pachydem says:

      This is not all Klinsmann’s fault, UnionGoal.
      As I have been taught– so I offer to you.

  14. UnionGoal says:

    Thank you for replying.
    I guess I see more realistic to build support for soccer through improving high school system. High School kids have to love the sport and “make it big” to inspire next generation.
    Right now, as many point out, including in recent guardian article Ed referred to, travel soccer and academies are very “white” and past middle school age, very exclusive to wealthier demographics.
    High school is an equalizer.
    But telling kids at travel clubs(not just the 80-100 academy kids) they can’t or shouldn’t play high school if they want to go to college, that’s a problem.
    The Odell Beckhams turn to the main high school sports–for some it is less personal cost(even if it only cost is travel to academies for practices and games, that is still prohibitive to working class families). But most it is status—being a “jock” is important part of their high school life–social identity is everything to a teenager. Playing for an academy or travel team only a few have heard of isn’t social status. High school, they get to wear suits on game days or their lettered jackets, etc.

    But high School soccer needs tweaking. Maybe allow bigger schools multiple JV teams, definitely allow for fall/spring season. Push for better start in middle schools.

    Of course problem is that most school districts are cutting back due to budgets so this is where USSF can make biggest impact. Instead I believe their recent unfunded mandates may cause more harm over longterm–Small sided game in theory works great but cost for extra field paint, new smaller goals, need for new coaches when there is dearth of volunteer coaches now in many places, need for more refs (whose fees will inevitably increase), etc. may lead to many rural travel clubs to fold in a few years or like a friend’s area in Western Pa–combine across several ages–her 12 year old son is playing with U16 kids in the fall as not enough to field U13-U15 teams.

    High School soccer isn’t a complete cure but definitely would make biggest impact on future of soccer in this country.

    Thanks for reading my rants.


    • old soccer coach says:

      as you think about HS soccer, and other HS sports as well, I would encourage you to look more deeply.
      High Schools continue to pay lip service to the old concept of three sport athletes. Formal structures continue, and the memories of old farts like me are stimulated and we think all is well.
      The Reality is vastly different. In the programs about which the school cares, they are year-round. Even when the head coach of the marquee program requires his players to play at least one other sport, the primary sport has practices and camps “out of season” during those other sports’ schedules. Coaches, when interviewed, are asked how they intend to create or improve club play year round to nurture talent for the formal season.
      Year-round already exists in high school. Year round is not the issue for those running the Development Academies. Quality of coaching is. Revisit Jim Curtin’s press conference in which he gave a film-room detailed breakdown on what went wrong on the Colorado Rapids goal in the 87th minute (I think that was the reference, but correct me if my brain has failed again, please.) the level of detail of his knowledge and expectation was incredible to a layman like me. Split second hesitations, eyes flicking away for an instant, a few degrees error in foot placement, inhaling when you should have exhaled, his examples poured forth spontaneously and instinctively. We don’t have anything approaching that level of quality in the grassroots level coaching of soccer in this country. we may never given the diversity now on offer in the general sports environment, because we will not have enough focus on a single sport to saturate its environment with excellence at all levels.

      In baseball as it was when I was a child half a century and more ago, where everybody played it and everybody knew it inside out, backwards and forwards, the general knowledge of practically everybody for all aspects of the game, on the field and off, was excellent. My little league coaches had levels of expertise in their sport similar to that which Jim Curtin has displayed in his.
      That saturation of the entire culture’s sporting environment with excellence in one discipline is what produces Messi, or Ronaldo. Add to it ruthless application of rational efficiency, and you discern why a middle European nation under 100,000,000 people consistently makes the semi-final round of quadrennial all-world soccer tournaments. (Our family has friends who live in that country; their youngest was identified as a possible candidate for development as a football player when his age was still in the single digits. The total dedication of all aspects of life to pursuing that single goal was deemed unhealthy by our friends, a point we understood.)
      intersecting correctly identified future potential with
      world class development level appropriate coaching (and having enough of it to do so) seems likely to be the keystone to the arch of future soccer improvement in these United States.
      Ooof. Sorry about the sermon. I slipped my leash.

      • Alicat215 says:

        OSC, your right that the best high school programs operate more like college programs….and they are training year round….whether it be club ball, weight room, speed training. There aren’t enough quality coaches either, where there are…,the kids flock to them. Still, ask those coaches how the quality has changed since the DA came down with their ruling. I actually think you may start to see more of this. Don’t think AAU basketball saw what the DA did…..I know it gave them ideas too. Baseball too, the best are joining full time academies like IMG….and then cameo for a year. It’s not just soccer……it’s a movement to privatize sport, follow the money! Lastly, OSC…….any person worth the grain of salt in the game…..can break the video down the way Curtin did…….my HS and College coach did those things…’s not rocket science!

  15. OneManWolfpack says:

    This team goes no where until two things happen: JK is relieved of his duties as manager… and we go young. If we have to take our lumps for a year or two, so be it. Groom a team together, keep them together, and see what it can produce. I assume this is a pipe dream until after the 2018 WC, but I for one won’t expect any real success from the USMNT until real changes are made.
    Oh and with the Paraguay / Costa Rica draw yesterday, at least it makes the US game in Philly on Saturday mean something! Assuming they win Tuesday… hmmm…

  16. Dr. Union says:

    Not sure if people are still checking this post. I agree the NT played pretty poorly. No I do not agree with JK that they were even with COL and I don’t know what he was looking at or watching (its time for another coach but thats beside the point). But the arguments I saw here for MLS or European leagues top class teams lower level teams I think are all the wrong arguments for the NT. I mean we can argue this and that about one league or another, but ultimately the structure and organization of how this team plays is all wrong. If the choice was going with top players from top teams and that is it then Pulisic should be starting right, because what players do we have that are on a higher tier team playing in form football. Yet Wood starts when he came from Bundesliga 2. I think the coaching is all wrong the organization of this team is all wrong and the structure of how to develop a top tier team is all wrong. The league is not what matters as much as the teams chemistry and understanding of the game they play. This team is not together. The worst players I saw versus Columbia played in EPL Yedlin (just a horrific night was completely awful and it showed) and MLS Jones (he has no business playing as an outside midfielder and should only be on the field as a destroyer). So despite where you play you can still be awful for the NT. This team needs a giant overhaul out with the old in with the new (and saying Bradley is old is a joke since he is 28). Tear it down and start from square one chemistry, structure, organization, and a plan.

    • John P O'Donnell says:

      I was a big supporter of JK but it seems his time has run out if for nothing else he’s become stale. I think he’s loss the team and you’ve seen the first signs of it in the last game. Jones was his player, who came from Germany and the one who walked right by him as he was being taken out.

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