the tanner ba'

Scotland and the U.S.A.: The Same, But Different

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I’ve now had a good deal of time to ponder the respective fates of the United States and Scottish national teams and I’m not sure I’m any closer to having a firm opinion on either one.  That said, a few things are have become clear to me about each side and I’d like to share those with you.

SCOTLAND

  1. Hard as it is to admit it, we simply don’t have enough players of quality at present to move from “came close to qualifying” to “just barely qualified.”  That’s not a big gap, but it’s too big at the moment.  I think the real test is to look at the national team roster and ask yourself, “How many of our players would make the starting eleven for the countries that qualified from our group?”  I’m certain of two- Gordon and Naismith- but beyond them I don’t think you can make a particularly convincing case for any of them.  This situation is not going to improve any time soon, but it is going to improve and that’s why…
  2. Gordon Strachan has to stay.  As ultimately disappointing as the results have been, the Wee Man has gotten as much out of this current group of players as anyone ever could.  In fact, when he’s had an injury free squad, time to train them, etc. they have been able to overachieve.  But here again, the lack of depth has haunted the club.  If Strachan calls up a squad for an important match and even two of his better players miss out through injury, well, the prospects of any kind of positive result get very dim.  That said, I think Strachan does two things that, should he wish to, speak for him keeping the job.  First, he never puts himself ahead of the team (see Klinnsman, J.) and he knows that the only way Scotland can win is “as a team” and he tailors his tactics accordingly.

UNITED STATES

  1. There is enough talent available to the USMNT that, if nothing else, they should steamroll through every non-Mexico opponent every time they play against a CONCACAF nation.  No one should ever even have to give this a second thought.  When it comes to Mexico, I believe there is still enough talent available to the USMNT that they should defeat El Tri more often than not.  Beyond CONCACAF the USMNT should be able to compete with every nation in the perennial top 10 (Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, etc.) and defeat every nation outside of that top group on a regular basis.  As much as the FIFA rankings are garbage, the USMNT should never be in 29th place behind the likes of Iceland, Algeria, Ghana, Switzerland, Austria, and Wales.  I take nothing away from those nations, but really?  But, that’s where the USMNT finds itself at the moment and that’s why…
  2. Jurgen Klinsmann has to go.  My problem with Klinsmann is not that I believe he is a bad coach, rather, I believe he is the wrong coach for this team at this time.  Unlike Strachan, Klinsmann puts himself ahead of the team.  That’s fine as a striker, selfishness is expected.  As a manager?  No, selflessness is expected.  I see this manifest itself in two ways.  First, if Klinsmann decides he likes a player he seems to stick with him no matter how bad his performances are.  Have Michael Orozco or Ventura Alvarado ever had a match for the team when they were better than…meh?  Conversely, he will “freeze out” players for…for…for I don’t know what?!  I LOATHE Benny Feilhaber for the way he behaved in his Revolution days and think he’s kind of a tool in general, but, um, no call-ups despite who he’s played in the last two years?!

Anyway, anything beyond this point- particularly about the USMNT- is just going to be me venting my spleen and I’ll spare you that.  Here’s something you can have fun with though.  Using just current uncapped (or at least, “lightly capped”) American players in MLS come up with a 25 man roster.  Now play a game in your mind (or on your gaming console) against the current USMNT roster and see who wins…

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