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An Open Letter to U.S. Soccer: You Failed Us. Now Get Better

After failing to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, change is needed.

Trinidad & Tobago v United States  - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images

Dear U.S. Soccer,

This goes out to all of you who were involved in the U.S.’s World Cup qualifying. Sunil Gulati, Jürgen Klinsmann, Bruce Arena, Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Christian Pulisic — everyone from the top down — this letter is for you.

First, don’t make any excuses. You failed. You failed in embarrassing fashion. For the rest of your lives you will be remembered as the team that failed to qualify for the World Cup. The field sucked. Mexico and Costa Rica should have won. Panama’s goal wasn’t actually a goal. Too bad.

At the end of the day, it is you who failed, not anybody else. It’s an embarrassment to even come close to this. Don’t you dare blame anyone but yourselves for not just an atrocious performance against Trinidad and Tobago, but through the entire qualifying cycle.

I can’t say this enough: it is an embarrassment and it is entirely your fault.

What it means to not be in the World Cup goes far beyond the lost chance of winning a trophy or making history. In a time when soccer is finally starting to get up and popular in this country, the World Cup was a momentous occasion to bring in more fans. More young fans who want to see 19-year-old Pulisic. Fans who just got, or are getting, an MLS or USL team in their city. Fans who just like to watch Barcelona and Real Madrid and want to see more of this beautiful game. They’re gone now and soccer in the United States is pushed back years.

Not being a part of a World Cup means that young soccer players will not be watching their country, but instead will be watching baseball and basketball. Instead of playing soccer, young athletes will pick football or basketball. Your small talent pool has become even slimmer now that the world will not be watching you. Now that this country will not be talking about you. Now that this country does not care about you.

Four years ago, you were disappointed not to beat Germany and Belgium. Well, now you can’t even beat Trinidad. You have gotten worse since Brazil, and that is simply not acceptable. When you play for your country, you have an obligation, a responsibility, to the entire nation, and you let the country down.

So, now it’s time for change. From Gulati to the coaches of U-6 soccer, everyone needs to be evaluated. If wholesale changes do not happen, you will be an even bigger embarrassment than what you are today.

Everyone within the organization needs to be evaluated. Gulati needs to go. Arena needs to be gone tomorrow. Howard, Dempsey, Bradley, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley, Guzan, Rimando, Zusi, and Wondo all should never play another competitive international game again. You all had years to prove you were good enough and we, the fans, have only seen your potential.

The quality of players in this country is too high for how the team has performed over the past few years. It is a privilege to have the U.S. crest on your chest, and you are all taking it for granted. It is time to bring in a new generation. It is time for a fresh start and to build this program back from the ground up.

Josh Sargent, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Erik Palmer-Brown, Justen Glad, Jonathan Klinsmann, Ethan Horvath, Weston McKennie, and Emerson Hyndman, it is now your time. You will be under the most pressure in U.S. Soccer history, and you don’t have a choice but to step up to the challenge. Your predecessors failed, but you need to defy the odds. Be the team that beats the Germanys and Belgiums of the world. Be the team that makes the U.S. a soccer country. Be the team that shows the world that places outside Europe and South America can play soccer, too. Make Americans proud of their soccer team again, and show the world that this was just a fluke.

Failing to qualify for the World Cup is inexcusable and, no matter what anyone says, it is not a good thing. The country will be feeling the effects of this for years to come. But now you can only do one thing — make the best of it. So many individuals from front-office personnel to coaches to players will be getting chances to represent the United States of America. If you get a chance, you better not take it for granted. You better be out there every day to elevate the U.S. to the top of the world. And if someone is taking it for granted, or just going through the motions, it’s time for them to be gone, too.

There cannot be any more mistakes like this. There is too much money and too many resources being pumped into the U.S. Soccer Federation to not be at the biggest stage. And to get there, change needs to happen today. Not tomorrow, next not month. Today.

Fire Arena right now. Have meetings with the players, coaches, broadcasters, media, everyone. There needs to be talks about what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how to fix it. Bring in outside help. People need to lose their jobs, and be replaced by people more capable of success, and there needs to be a plan on how to get back to the top.

Finally, this part goes out to all the fans. You need to stay and support your team. Be mad. Be pissed off. Go to Twitter and voice your frustration. But at the end of the day, this is your team, this is your country. We are One Nation, One Team. Support your MLS team. Support the youth divisions. When the team comes back out to play, be there for them and support them louder than ever.

This sucks. It’s embarrassing. It’s painful.

U.S. Soccer, you failed us.

Now pick yourself up, look at yourself in a mirror, make the changes needed to improve, and make us proud again.


A concerned supporter of U.S. Soccer