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Russia 2018: The World Cup Without the United States

Teddy Glover '21 Assistant Sports Editor
As the world waits with bated breath for the 2018 World Cup, many Americans will be left with a sense of disappointment as they watch the most viewed sporting event on Earth begin, without the presence of the United States Men’s National Team.
Occurring every four years, the World Cup is a soccer tournament consisting of the best thirty-two teams from around the world. This summer, for the first time since 1990, the competition will kick off without the United States.

This failure has left many players and fans alike frustrated. Lucio Moscarini ’19, this year’s Boys Varsity Soccer captain, said, “As an avid soccer fan and player, seeing the lack of growth in the USMNT program is quite frustrating. I think a major part of the issue is the academy system for club soccer, which is just a pay-for-play system. Many skilled players who cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars every year to play soccer are cut off from the system, which leaves mostly wealthy people in the potential player pool that will actually draw attention from scouts,” says Moscarini. While America certainly does not lack talent, misuse of available resources and an emphasis on money deplete the system of talent, lowering the success of the USMNT. Ella Zuse ’21 of Girls Varsity Soccer added, “It’s frustrating to witness the constant turnover of coaches, with no significant change evident in the program.”

Not only do players notice this clear defect in the training of young players, but coaches also observe the failures of the U.S. soccer programs. Joe Addison, Head Coach of Boys Varsity Soccer, believes that “the failure of the US men’s team to qualify for the World Cup is a clear indictment of youth soccer in this country.” A former player, Addison states, “it’s clear that the best players - technical players with tremendous vision - have not been given a fair shot in this country.” This deficiency in the U.S. soccer program led to the USMNT not qualifying for the World Cup “in one of the weakest qualifying conferences in the world,” causing coaches and players to take note, said Moscarini.

While frustration is prevalent among those involved with the sport, shock and humiliation also ran deep through the hearts of Americans as they watched the U.S. lose to Trinidad and Tobago, a country with a population of slightly over a million. Ella Fujimori ’21 of Girls Varsity Soccer, recalled: “I watched the game that eliminated the USMNT from being in the world cup with my brother; it was heartbreaking and humiliating watching them lose to Trinidad and Tobago.” Jack Dove ’19, another varsity soccer player, added, “As a soccer player, it’s disappointing and embarrassing to not see my nation take the field on the biggest stage.” To many who play the sport and to many who do not, watching the World Cup without the USMNT will be immeasurably mortifying.

Although clear issues reside in the way U.S. youth soccer programs are run, Dove, sharing a popular opinion, “hope[s] [that] this shock creates change in U.S. soccer culture and development.” However, Addison deems “there are massive organizational and philosophical shifts that need to happen if we are going to produce a team capable of winning a World Cup, much less capable of qualifying for one.” While it may not be apparent during this year’s World Cup, the program does have the capability to change. Moscarini said, “I have faith in American players.”
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