Are we getting worse? Despite win over South Africa, U.S. soccer finish year at .500

Say what you will about the U.S. soccer team, but they played worse this year than they did last year—never mind the last minute 1-0 win over South Africa today.

This year, the national team underachieved at 5-5-4 to finish with a .500 winning percentage. Last year, the team managed a respectable 13-8-3 to finish over .600—about where they typically are on the world stage. I realize the competition was stiffer this year, but not by much. Not enough to justify the .100+ drop in productivity.

As a testament to this year’s slide, today’s game was rife with stale coaching, porous defense, and overall insipid attacking. The U.S. team managed to play with heart a couple of times this year, most notably during World Cup games against Algeria and Slovakia. But it’s obvious the team played with no pride or purpose whatsoever during the second half of the year.

More depressing: the two youngsters who assisted and scored today’s goal—a creative Mikkel Diskerud to speedy finisher Juan Agudelo—are still eligible to play for other national teams, given their dual citizenship status.

In other words, we’re still young. We can’t buy a good coach. We have few prospects. And we play like the world expects us to: not very good.

Oh, well. There’s always next year, right? Right!!??

See also: 5 things that bother me about USA’s failed World Cup attempt

November 17, 2010
10 comments

Comments (10)

  1. 1. Walter White says...

    SIR,

    YOU ARE RETARDED.

    KIND REGARDS,
    WW

  2. 2. Blake says...

    Yup, those official stats are really “retarded,” WW. But hey, don’t let that stop you from believing we had a good year.

  3. 3. Neg says...

    Sorry man, but things are looking up. Yes we have a horrible coach, but the future is still bright. He won’t last a third WC term and we don’t have to look at things in black and white. Only three things matter the next four years: Gold Cup, World Cup Qualification, and the 2014 World Cup. We have a strong chance for the GC, a great chance for WCQ and will have a good chance at the WC stop being so pessimistic.

  4. 4. Blake says...

    @Neg
    I agree we have “a strong chance for the GC, a great chance for WCQ and will have a good chance at the WC.” But I won’t be happy unless we make it to the final four in Brazil, I don’t care how lofty that is. That’s what I’m shooting for.

  5. 5. Michael says...

    Five wins (El Salvador, Turkey, Australia, Algeria, South Africa)
    Five losses (Honduras, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Ghana, Brazil)
    Four draws (England, Slovenia, Poland, Colombia)

    Now, math was never my strong suit, but how exactly is that under .500?

    You don’t seem to know what you’re talking about. Friendlies mean nothing, so a team’s record is completely irrelevant. We won our World Cup group for the first time in eighty years despite our best defender (Onyewu) and our most in-form striker (Davies) being either greatly reduced in ability or completely absent. And then there’s Jermaine Jones’s injury woes. We lost a 2-1 game in stoppage time to be eliminated from the Cup – hardly anything to be embarrassed about. Your saying that “We have few prospects.” further shows your lack of familiarity with US Soccer. And that coming just after that bizarre bit about Agudelo and Mix being eligible for other countries…I don’t even know what to say to that. If you think that after this game either of them will choose to leave the US and play for an inferior national team with a much smaller chance of making it to 2014 Brazil…I just don’t know what to tell you.

  6. 6. Blake says...

    @Michael, your math is better than mine. I corrected it above. But I still think the 2009 team would beat the 2010 team, which is my overall point that we seem to be a worse team than we were in 2009. On top of that, we’re stuck with a stale coach. :(

  7. 7. FutbolUSA.net says...

    Actually.. that’s 5 losses for a 5-5-4 record…but yes, not great. Still, not as many games this year against weaker sides. Keep that in mind. This would reduce last year’s record to about the same if we take out games against smaller teams.

  8. 8. Michael says...

    When comparing the 2009 team to the 2010 team, you have to keep a couple of things in mind. First, the teams are basically identical. Second, several key 2009 players did not have the same impact this year. Onyewu and Davies I mentioned above, but you could add DeMerit (due to his lack of a club) and Clark (who never recovered from the thigh injury he suffered after moving to Germany). As it happens, I think we are in fine shape. Let’s break it down by position: I think you would agree that we are set at goalkeeper, so no need to focus on that. I feel very good about our future at RB; Cherundolo is in his prime, and Lichaj appears primed to take over when it’s time. CB is a bit of a mess, but not really in a bad way, but there are just a lot of questions. Will Onyewu regain his form? Is DeMerit through? But there are several young guys (Gonzalez, Ream, Gale) showing great promise. It’s a short-term worry, but not a long-term one, IMO. LB, admittedly, is a mess. Bocanegra is serviceable now, but he’s not getting any younger. Can Bornstein or Pearce step up and play consistently? Only time will tell. I’m not worried about our midfield at all. Dempsey, Donovan, and Jones are in their primes, Holden, Edu, Feilhaber, Torres, and Bradley are all coming into their own, and Bedoya and Diskerud have impressed. Striker, along with LB, is the only position I really have any worry about, but I’m greatly encouraged following this game, as I think anyone would have to be. We miss Davies, of course, but Jozy continues to improve, and Agudelo and Bunbury showed great potential. I have to repeat, though, that I find your fears that any of the kids would want to leave the US to play for an inferior team to be absolutely groundless and honestly quite perplexing. Diskerud is the only one I could even conceive of leaving, and that’s only because he was born and raised in Norway. Gale and Agudelo may have been born elsewhere, but appear to only identify as Americans. Bunbury seems about 50/50, but he made it clear that he wants to play in a World Cup, something Canada isn’t likely to do. Stuart Holden could have played for Scotland, Jose Torres for Mexico, Oguchi Onyewu for Nigeria, Jozy Altidore for Haiti, Landon Donovan for Canada, but they all chose the United States. There is a reason for that! (Sorry for the rant.)

  9. 9. Anonymous says...

    You are an idiot. The USMNT trajectory is improving, and you’re blind if you can’t see that. Or maybe you just haven’t been watching long enough. Since 2002? “Stud”?

  10. 10. Tk says...

    There is several reasons this is a terrible article. First of all it tries to attribute a concept derived for US sports to a global sport, not taking into account the concept of friendlies, competitive matches and the fact that the prestige varies between games. For example if team USA were to play 6 friendlies as they were trying out new players/formations, lose them all, yet draw 2 games and win the following 5 at the world cup to win it, they would have an unver .500 record yet be world champions.
    Secondly, team USA played much tougher opponents this year which is invaluable experience regardless of the win or not. If the US had’ve chosen to play Suriname and Haiti all year they could’ve ended up with a perfect record, but what would the point of that be? Team USA has a great group of players, which is steadily getting larger, and given more experience, more players in europe, will continue to improve. The eventual goal will always be to do better at the world cup and against world class opposition so that one day the US might be considered world class. They are definitely going the right way. Well done on a good 2010.