The Five Stages of USMNT Grief
Denial: International friendlies are meaningless. Belgium is among the world’s leaders in young talent, even without Eden Hazard. The U.S. has a definite ceiling. Here, they were outmatched. The back line needs time to coalesce and get healthy. Stuart Holden could get back in the fold. Some young players have shown some promise. Perhaps, Landon gets invited back. Let’s get through the Germany game and focus on the real matches, against Jamaica and Panama.
Anger: What the fuck? Seriously, what the fuck?! Belgium has not qualified for a major tournament since 2002. They are roughly on par with the U.S. in SPI. Klinsmann’s attacking impetus generated zero goals from open play. The defense, composed of professional soccer defends, was lazy, disorganized and terrible. Belgium ripped the U.S. apart without leaving first gear. Klinsmann’s team is staid. It is not progressing. It’s not even clear what the team is trying to progress toward. He is playing guess and check with the lineups. The USMNT should have been fitter. They should have played with more spirit at home. This looks like Klinsmann’s Bayern Munich team, but with way less talent.
Bargaining: Please. Just get out of the hex. Get to Brazil. We’ll look at the draw. Whatever happens there is a bonus. Please. Just qualify.
Depression: Project 2010 was a failure. U.S. Soccer finally allocated money to bring in an outside influence and it backfired. Substantive infrastructure improvements and a stable domestic league have only marginally improved the senior national team.
Acceptance: The United States will qualify for the 2014 World Cup. Their group will contain one much better team and one or two evenly matched ones. They will need points from the final match to advance. The tournament will be deemed a success or failure depending on that result. Klinsmann’s tenure will have both positives and negatives. He will have pointed the way forward, even if he is ill-equipped to lead the senior team there. We won’t understand the pajama top, but we’ll be thankful he wears big boy pants with a belt.
[Photo via USA Today Sports]