We did it! We won the world cup! We developed several world class players through an actual world class development academy, not the façade of one. We crushed the competition in qualifying and were the first team to go through an entire world cup without conceding a goal. After winning the final 3-0 with a Michael Bradley hat-trick, there was little left to do until the USMNT decided to tackle global poverty and world peace.
Well, the pipe-dream was nice while it lasted. In fact, all we did was fire Jurgen Klinsmann. The sheer elation in the dismissal of Jurgen Klinsmann continues to point to the fact that we solved a problem on the surface level, but most haven’t even begun to identify the real problems behind US Soccer and the US Men's National Team, let alone solve them.
We have a professional league in which investors have to pay over $100 million dollars simply for the opportunity to play in said league. Not $100 million for players, a club academy, infrastructure, coaching, but the ability to play in a league. We have a professional league in which old, fading stars are payed in some cases 100X more than their teammates, and yet we wonder why this isn’t the league of choice for emerging talent. When those “stars” get tired of the league and decide to return to a more competitive environment, journalists instead spin and laud the fact that MLS was “too hard” for them. We don’t question how a league that rewards mediocrity with draft picks and allocation money can truly prepare players for top competition. We don’t ask whether parity increases development and competition, or creates a sense of complacency. Don’t worry though, we fired Jurgen Klinsmann!
Ultimately, as we said 13 months ago, and as we are saying again, the nonsensical idea that firing Jurgen Klinsmann solves THE problem with the USMNT is as wrong as thinking Klinsmann has done no wrong. People now celebrate Sunil Gulati’s “courageous” decision, but don’t ask the deeper questions of the system that has allowed for Klinsmann to stay in so long, or that has entrenched Gulati in his relatively secure position.
The country faces a huge issue with stunted investment in a professional game in which monopolies exist only because “that’s how sports are in the United States.” We suffer from a youth development issue in which the majority of players have dropped out by the age of 13. And there’s about ten other issues that we face as a soccer nation that deserve numerous articles on each one.
And yet, in a 1000 word article, I’ve only begun to look deeper than surface level and yet we’ve covered real issues that US Soccer faces. Removing a figurehead that served as Technical Director and National Team Head Coach could certainly be a step in the right direction, and yet when most people have celebrated Klinsmann’s dismissal akin to winning a world cup, you have to worry that perhaps people are still missing the larger picture.
Nuance is hard. It’s easy to think that Klinsmann is THE issue. I would hope that I wouldn’t have to write this article in 10 minutes because it seems that most writers are still busy sending those tweets they’ve saved celebrating Jurgen’s firing. We fired Jurgen Klinsmann, and we are at a pivotal moment in which we could continue to ask questions and put pressure on those who are making decisions for US Soccer, or we can enjoy all those funny gifs of Bruce Arena snarling at press conferences and get that nice, comfy feeling of the pipe-dream coming again.