Saying the U.S Men’s National team had an up and down is being very kind to them. The recent dismissal of Jürgen Klinsman was the just the latest hit US Soccer took on a truly disappointing year. A lack of consistent play and a disorganized defense has been part of the problem. Klinsmann’s lineups did not mesh well and seemed to hurt the team when it needed him the most. USMNT is in the position of having to play pretty flawless soccer over the final 8 matches to get into the World Cup in 2018. The two most recent world cup qualifying losses at home to Mexico (1-2) and a blowout loss to Costa Rica (0-4) have cost them a lot in terms of positioning for the CONCACAF region. They are currently last in their group. This is not where U.S Soccer wants to be considering they’ve been to every World Cup tournament since 1990. Breaking that kind of streak would not sit well with American fans and the U.S Soccer federation who feel that soccer in the United States has made great strides in becoming a true soccer nation.

BLAST FROM THE PAST?

So, what does a team that is struggling and in desperate need of a spark do in order to return to top form? They bring back a familiar face in Bruce Arena. Yes, the most successful manager the U.S national team has ever had. What makes Bruce a good hire is the fact that he gets the most out of his players. He manages his players and instills the belief that they can compete and defeat tougher international squads. His most successful effort as manager was leading the U.S team to the quarterfinals in the 2002 World Cup. I believe he’s the right man for the job, especially because he has done it before. He is committed and has proven he can get the job done. A major thumping of Honduras by USMNT winning 6-0 got everyone’s hopes up for the World Cup qualifiers only to disappoint the very next match in a poor showing in Panama were USA drew 1-1. It’s still too early in his 2nd tenure with the national squad but time is running out.

USMNT Head Coach - Bruce Arena

USMNT Head Coach – Bruce Arena | Credit: Photo Works / Shutterstock

THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT FOR THE USMNT

There are still some veteran players on the USMNT that can help get the team to Russia in 2018. Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Graham Zusi are all mainstays but the real hope comes from two youngsters who have caught the attention of many Americans: Eighteen-year-old, Borussia Dortmund sensation Christian Pulisic and Julian Green who also plays in Germany. Two highly skilled position players that can fuel the attack and score or assist on timely goals plus a good mix of veterans can certainly make a good run during the final stretch of the World Cup qualifiers. The youngsters and veterans have to mesh well in order for this team to make a good run towards this final stretch.

MAKE IT TO RUSSIA

With eight matches remaining, the mission is clear for the USMNT: do whatever it takes to get into the top 3 positions of the group, if not make it to the 4th spot and play an inter-confederation playoff game. Win the home games while being overpowering and get positive results on the road. This is easier said than done but not impossible. Bruce Arena has a large task at hand. He prepares well for opponents and can make a difference in the team’s style of play. If he can make it work in a short period of time he will be prove once again that he was ready for the challenge. However, as always it’s entirely up to the players. If they believe they can make it through and get good results then we’re headed for some quality matches where the team comes together and pulls through, which is exactly the type of momentum you’d want before playing in a World Cup. If not, the soul searching will begin and a reboot of the entire US Soccer Federation will be needed. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get to that point.

CREDIT HEADER PICTURE: PHOTO WORKS / SHUTTERSTOCK