The U.S. Men’s National Team are in limbo with Dave Sarachan as interim manager. Until it ends, the USMNT can make no progress whatsoever.
The U.S. Men’s National Team failed to qualify for the World Cup in October 2017. Bruce Arena swiftly resigned as a result of the humiliation. The problems, though, ran much deeper than Arena and his temporary reign.
Jurgen Klinsmann was sacked a year earlier. After successive losses to Mexico and Costa Rica, the USMNT dropped to the bottom of the qualification standings. It was a mess. And the mess has continued.
Since Arena resigned, Dave Sarachan has been in charge. It is now almost a year since he was hired, taking over from the man he was the assistant for. His contract was extended in June, but still only as an interim, with Sarachan completely left without any semblance of power and influence as a result.
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The limbo that the U.S. have lurched in for more than a year continues to plague this team. On Tuesday night, the U.S. were defeated for the final time in 2018 — that is because they will not play any more games in 2018 — in a heartbreaking fashion: Italy finally took advantage of their utter dominance with a lovely worked goal in the dying seconds to snatch a 1-0 victory.
Sarachan tried to change things up in the hope of surprising the Italian and sneaking a win. He used a 3-5-2 formation, employed a deep-lying defensive line and looked to threaten on the counter. It did not really work.
But that is not necessarily the fault of Sarachan, or of the players. The system and style was not the problem. The execution of it was poor, but that is not necessarily the players’ fault either. The issue stems from the limbo that the U.S. Soccer Federation has thrust the squad and the coach into.
The inability to efficiently hire a head coach is absolutely criminal. I am not quite sure how such an apparently professional, prestigious and sizable organisation like the USSF have failed to hire the most important person in the whole system for over a year. Just writing that sentence displays the ineptitude of the USSF.
Tuesday night’s tactical change was the perfect illustration of the impact of the USSF’s foolish delay. If Sarachan was a permanent coach with a long-term focus, then he would have had the opportunity to instill different tactics and systems that his players then understand and can properly execute when the time comes to employ them in matches.
Look at Gareth Southgate and England. He has been given the time and opportunity to implement his plans, plans that are for the long-term. And the team now plays with clear instruction and understanding. They are cohesive, connected, and unified, almost everything that the USMNT currently are not.
And this is not Sarachan’s fault. Or the players’ fault. It is the idiocy and incompetence of the USSF. Progress will not start until limbo ends.