Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Hear me out...Making sense of the USMNT failure


October 14, 2017


If you haven't heard by now, on Tuesday night the United State Men's National Team lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago, a country with a smaller population than Montana and Wyoming combined. It was an embarrassing loss, but to make matters worse it knocked the U.S. out of the 2018 World Cup. This is the first time the U.S. hasn't qualified for the World Cup since 1986. (Hey that was the year before I was born!)

Everywhere you read or watch, Tuesday was an absolute disaster. FiveThirtyEight is declaring it the worst loss in the history of the program. By ELO rankings, a fancy metric ranking system that soccer uses, the U.S. was ranked 32nd and T&T all the way down at 98. Basically, it would be equivalent to a power conference team in the NCAA losing to a bottom feeder out of the MAC.

There's no way around it, having T&T deny the U.S. a spot in the 2018 World Cup is shameful. In fact, T&T was on a five-match losing streak, being outscored 11-5 during that stretch.

Now, as embarrassing as it is to have the United States' World Cup dreams dashed by a nation that sounds like an awesome cigar company, I'm going to offer up an unpopular opinion, who cares?

Before you soccer people freak out, I don't mean who cares in the sense that soccer stinks, but who cares in the sense that our expectations for this program vastly exceed its track record.

U.S. men's soccer hasn't been at the forefront of our nation's athletic highlights, it's actually been a bit of an albatross for us. We treat them like the U.S. Men's basketball team when they perform like the Cleveland Browns. (How's that for a double cross-sports reference?)

Ever since we started caring paying attention to soccer, right around the turn of the century, we've never won our Group outright or done better than making the quarterfinal stage in the World Cup.

For all the money we've dumped into the men's program we've got nothing to show for it.

However, there is one positive to the Trinidad and Tobago loss. It proves without a shadow of a doubt that the men's program doesn't deserve all the resources it gets, instead we should start pouring as much money as we can into USWNT.

The U.S. Soccer Federation, the governing body of both national teams, has been desperate and used a considerable amount of time and money to flip the men's program into an elite one.

I have some advice for the USSF, stop pouring money into the sunk cost that is the men's program. They are losers and cannot compete amongst the elite teams in the world. Instead, take the money you're wasting on the men's team and transfer it to the women's team.

How are the dopes at the USSF still in charge, when they keep wasting money on the men's team who can't do anything right?

The women's program is the elite and dominant team we've been wanting, they're the team to put their foot on another opponent's neck and twist. They simply, and pardon my language, kick ass.

For all the men's terrible and embarrassing performances the women are the exact opposite, the highest FIFA ranking the men have received was fourth in 2006 and subsequently didn't win a match at the 2006 World Cup. Meanwhile, the women own stake in No. 1 ranking and the lowest they've been is second, SECOND.

Sure, rankings aren't everything, you have to prove it on the field. As you already know the men haven't done jack, while the women are the gold standard. They've won the World Cup three times (1991, 1999 and 2015) and Olympic gold four times (1996, 2004, 2008 and 2012). All they do is win and it's not like they're doing it with one awesome group of players, they're on their third generation of players and still beating the brakes off of teams.

Off the top of our heads, I believe most could name more USWNT players than USMNT. I'm not even sure who is one the men's team, I might know two, Tim Howard and Clinton Dempsey, and I feel like one is retired. Yep, Howard is no longer on the team, so I know one.

So why isn't the USSF backing up BRINK's trucks or giving the women's program an Avengers-esque training facility?

It's a legitimate question the USSF needs to address by the end of the year. And they can't hide behind the "people don't watch women's sports" it's not true when it comes to women's soccer. Do you want to know the highest rated soccer game in U.S. history? That distinction belongs to the U.S. Women when they obliterated the Japanese 5-2 in the World Cup Final in 2015, and an average of 23 million people watched.

The pay discrepancies between the women's and men's program have been well documented: Make the roster for the men's team is $76,000, for the women's team $15,000. A team bonus for making the World Cup, the men $2.5 million and the women $345,000. Team bonus for reaching the round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals a total of $13.1 million for the men, for the women $0. Win the World Cup, $9.3 million bonus for the men and a $1.8 million bonus for the women.

The numbers from above aren't from 1999. That was the pay scale for both programs in 2015. After some lawsuits, the Women's team is going to be better compensated, but will still make less than the men.

It is moronic that the USSF continues to pay the men like they're winners when they haven't accomplished anything noteworthy. Tuesday's loss proves that the men aren't ready for prime time, supposedly the U17 national team is the best we've ever had, but we've heard that before too. Until the men can prove it and sustain excellence, they should be paid like a third-tiered program.

The USSF needs to go back to the 2015 pay scale, but with the men getting what the women were paid and women being like the men were.


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