This picture tweeted out by U.S. Soccer earlier today summarizes the month that U.S. Soccer is having, technically you could draw it back to Loretta Lynch and the rest of the F.B.I. but for now let’s just talk soccer.
It started off with the U.S. Men’s National Team coming back in the most unexpected of ways to beat the Netherlands for the first time in the team’s history. This was not a poor Netherland’s side either, it might not be their A+ team but Robin Van Persie, Memphis Depay and Daley Blind took the field as starters. Sure the Netherland’s defense has struggled since leaving Brazil, and losing the evil genius Louis Van Gaal does not help the Dutch but a win is a win.
Following the senior team’s impressive victory the U.S. Men’s U-23 team beat England to finish third in the Toulon Tournament. If you’ve never heard of the Toulon Tournament or mistook it for a fancy brand of European cheese I don’t blame you, it’s not a well known tournament but teams from all over Europe bring their youth teams and it is usually a good way to see the future of some countries. Jurgen Klinsmann’s number 2 man, Andi Herzog, was named head coach for this team and they were fairly lucky to make the third place game. The main point to take away is, although this team is not up to where it should be, they squeezed out 3 victories in 5 games and it moves them one step closer to Olympic qualifiers.
Next up was the big one, the opening game of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s 2015 World Cup. This team has a real potential to take home the big gold trophy and it was one of the most exciting games during this week. Despite being hidden behind the various FIFA scandals these women have stayed true to their goal and after shaking off the rust in the first 45 minutes against Australia they showed that they are not out of it.
Megan Rapinoe scored two goals and newcomer Christen Press scored her first goal of the tournament. It was an exciting game but most importantly the presence of the American Outlaws helped the women feel as if it was a home game. Something that might not seem important to the casual fan but is vastly important when you see all the empty seats scattered around some of the games in Canada.
Following the USWNT in Canada we switch over to another youth team, the U-20’s who beat Colombia sending them to the U-20’s quarterfinals in their World Cup. The last time a U-20’s team advanced to the quarterfinals was 2007 and this bodes well for the future of U.S. Soccer, especially since Russia (or wherever) is not as far away as we think. Rubio Rubin scored the goal for the States and he’s definitely an up-and-coming player to look out for.
We finish in Germany where the senior team finished out their pre-Gold Cup friendlies against the reigning champions of the World and 4-time FIFA World Cup winners, Germany. This was not going to be an easy game, anytime you see players like Mario Götze or Mesut Özil take the field you should be worried. It seemed like a very typical game was about to be played out when Götze, of course, scored an early goal. However the United States played great defense, they forced Germany to earn their possession and played from the back.
Michael Bradley looked as close to his former self as he has in a long time, the youth of the team has really been the difference maker in these friendlies and that was driven home when Bobby Wood scored his second goal in the 87th minute, not second goal of the pre-Gold Cup friendlies this was his second international goal. The U.S. held on and took home a well-deserved victory.
This has been a historic week for U.S. Soccer anyway you look at it, possibly Jurgen Klinsmann’s changes are starting to take effect or possibly the United States is finally catching up with the world. The success of the youth teams can definitely be brought back to Klinsmann but the success of the Women’s National Team is entirely their own.
Will this exciting trend last? Possibly, there’s a lot of time before 2018 or the finals in Canada. The Men’s team still need to succeed in the U-20 World Cup and in the Gold Cup coming up this summer. After those are done maybe we’ll come back and write something else.
But until then, it’s time to start believing.