The young American forward is just 19 years of age and is currently starting with Borrusia Dortmund. This World Cup was the big opportunity for him to showcase himself to the world and the American audience, now he won’t have that chance. Many of the all-time greats had their teenage world cup where they showcased their talent and got the attention of the world. Pele made the World Cup at 17, Messi 18 and Ronaldo 18. These are the names Pulisic wants to be with and missing the World Cup is a huge hit to get that level.
Pulisic was the best player on the field in the disaster versus Trinidad and Tobago and had been for the US throughout the qualifying phase. This was part of the problem, At many times during this qualifying phase, he seemed the only player trying to create and dribble to spaces. So while Pulisic is a once in a lifetime talent, he is still 19 and needs the team to help. He is still not at the level where he can carry a team by himself. Messi scored a hat trick to get his team in, Pulisic isn’t there yet.
It’s hard to remember this kid should still be in college if he was playing a more traditional American sport. Borrusia Dortmund is right now in pole position in the Bundesliga and the mix for the champions league and he is starting for them. It’s like a nineteen-year-old being a starter for the Cavs or Warriors. While all that is extremely impressive if he was part of probably any other country he would be a break out star you would see in every type of media on your daily basis.
The summer in Russia was a chance for that, to get his name in every American living room, get the big money sponsorship contract and become the face of American soccer. Put in mind he has already done what Landon Donovan never could. Get established in a top German side. Yet too many people believe Landon Donovan is far better and thatthere shouldn’t be a discussion. But at 19 he did what Donovan couldn’t in his whole career. It was Pulisic’s chance to be up there with the greats but now he will have to wait and continue being the unloved prodigy that he is.
The second person probably most affected by the USA missing the World Cup is Fox, the network TV channel, that paid $400 million to get the rights to show the World Cup in America. While the World Cup will get its viewers from the devoted soccer fans, it is a loss when a lot of the bandwagon USA fans don’t show up.
Every World Cup thousands and thousands of people become USA soccer fans that have not watch a single qualifying game. They love rooting for their country no matter the sport or occasion. Those people won’t be pumped to watch a Germany vs Argentina. They are asking for the USA and this world cup they won’t get it.
The nation will be in a grim state while the rest of the world takes part in the celebration. This world cup will have earlier kick-off times, than in 2014, and the USA won’t be in it. This presents a real challenge for Fox who will have to get people hyped to wake up early and watch Soccer to a base of people who don’t really like it.
Rooting for America has always brought in the viewers that don’t care about the sport and just want the Raw-Raw aspect of it. It will be a real surprised if Fox gets numbers anywhere near what ESPN got in 2014.
MLS and the USA development system
Third and the one that might be the most condemned by this disaster is the MLS and the development of their players. With the money that has been thrown into the system, which the numbers are in the billions, how have they failed to produce a decent crop of players that can survive the CONCACAF. The USA even without the rich traditions of soccer has the athletes and the money to easily qualify for every World Cup like they have the last thirty years. So the push that all these developmental programs were supposed to make turn out to be a regression. Now a team like Panama which the USA has always dominated is going to the World Cup.
The other fact is the league many of the stars of recent years have left big teams in Europe to come play in the MLS for high paying contracts. So While those decisions did help Micheal Bradley and Dempsey be happy they have clearly affected the team. The level in the MLS is much lower than top leagues in Europe and even when you bring players that were succeeding overseas their form will drop if they are not playing the best.
Expect now most American players to not buy in the American system and do what Pulisic did and leave at a young age to continue your development. USA should be pushing these guys to get on the best teams possible in Europe and not on the focus on growing the MLS.
If the MLS truly had a good and organized development system than it should be producing enough players to support the local league but also have the best leave to the best league. The best example of this is Argentina and Brazil. They have thriving leagues locally and their National teams are full of players playing aboard in Europe. To be the best you have to have your players playing with the best, its that simple, and the USA has gotten away from that.
The sad, frustrating part is the USA has the money and the resources to so much better. This should be a wake-up sign for the whole league that they are not producing players. As of right now close to 50% of the league are foreigners. This to me shows clubs have to go out and get players to play at the level they want, meaning they aren’t producing it.
So while most people will criticize the coaches who have been there or the players simply not providing a fight when things weren’t going their way. I think this failure in qualification shows how far the USA is at development compared with countries with way less to work with. People keep saying America doesn’t have the players to compete, well maybe it is because we are not developing them. Teams like Germany and Spain developed their talent they are
Ultimately the saddest thing of all this is that the USA won’t have a chance to redeem themselves until another four years. So hopefully when that time comes the USA national team has made drastic changes and we see a competitive team again.