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The loss of the USA Men's soccer team to Trinidad and Tobago eliminated the national squad from participating in the FIFA Soccer World Cup scheduled for Russia in in 2018. The tournament exclusion will represent a substantial revenue loss to American broadcasters and merchandisers. With US soccer out of the most viewed sports event on the planet (45-billion global television viewers), important questions to ask are (1) What changes will be made to revitalize the country's current soccer program? and (2) what will absence from the world's stage for the next year represent to the nation's soccer fans, especially, younger players?
Will this interruption of prior US soccer success impinge on the sport's spectacular growth that occurred from 2010 to 2016 when fans increased from 59 million to 79 million? (Sports Illustrated study)
More importantly what constituted the root causes for the national soccer squad's failure to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for first time since 1986?
In listing possible answers to the above inquiry, it might be helpful to consider parallel rugby considerations for the USA Men's and Women’s Eagles.
A team of older players - The US Men's soccer team relied on older players - over 30-years of age - many who had played in one or two of the past FIFA World Cups.
Failure to develop younger players - Where was the emergence of international stars from America in the past three-years? Ironically, the success of Major League Soccer - facilitating enough money to sign US players to stay at home - generated only minimal improvement. Jürgen Klinsmann, former coach for five and a half-years, encouraged Americans to play abroad professionally, anticipating they would improve when confronting a higher standard of competition.
In prominent soccer-playing nations (e.g.; England, Italy, Germany), when past embarrassing outcomes occurred, it resulted both in massive personnel changes but also a total reappraisal of the nation's failed plans.
It will be instructive to watch what short-term changes the US Men's Soccer Federation will make to the national team. All concur what is needed is not a quick fix, but a long-term strategy to avoid another debacle.