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Report: U.S. Soccer exploring idea of games against big-name teams to miss World Cup

Don’t get your hopes up yet, but there is a chance the U.S. Men’s National Team could compete against some of the other big-name countries that missed out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

According to ESPN, U.S. Soccer and SUM are exploring matches between the USMNT, Italy, Chile, Ghana and the Netherlands.

The report noted that it’s unsure whether there will be a formatted tournament for the games, or if they’ll be friendlies next year. If this were to happen, the Americans would face quality competition even while not participating in Russia, which could be to the development of the younger players in the USMNT squad.

The teams listed are among the biggest names to miss the 2018 World Cup with Italy failing to qualify for the first time since 1958. The USMNT, meanwhile, missed the World Cup for the first time since 1986 while each of the other teams has missed the world’s top tournament this millennium.


  1. America. Home Of The Gullible.
    The only thing these young guys can develop on this thing is bad habits and a mediocre mentality. There is a reason the left the US as early as they could: Lack of development. They’ll be better off spending that time recovering or training with their teams. There’s nothing to be learned from training with Acosta, Zardes, altidore bradley and even less from that mummy the have babysitting the national team right now.

  2. in my whole life, i think i have never watched a “third place game” to see who the King of the losers is. i mean just the whole idea of it is not interesting to me.

    • we didn’t qualify. time to suck eggs and pick a team to root for that’s in the tournament and cheer for them.

      • i might cheer for mexico. i admired their excellent play against argentina a few wc’s ago.

  3. A good opportunity for our young players to get more international experience. Start it soon after the European season ends in May with 8 teams in two groups of four. Top two teams in each group then face off and it can be over in two and a half or three weeks. It seems like a positive to me. It beats waiting until the next Gold Cup and playing some friendlies between the World Cup and the Gold Cup.

  4. I don’t understand how this could be looked at as anything other than a positive. The people that are still angered by the failure to qualify, while understandable, need to get over it and get behind this youth movement. Many of the teams that missed out need to usher in a new generation of players and what better way to give experience and high level matches to younger players. The way players better themselves is by playing matches, this would be win-win.

  5. Love this idea. Like the NIT tournament in college basketball. Throw in the two losers of the interconfederation playoffs and add someone like Greece to make it an 8 team tournament, 2 groups of 4 with the top 2 from each advancing to semifinals.

    Group A: Italy, USA, Ghana, Australia.

    Group B: Netherlands, Greece, Chile, New Zealand.

  6. I must be missing something, but why are we celebrating failure. These teams FAILED to qualify and you are rewarding them with a mini-tournament. This shows an astounding amount of self-awareness. You should not be planning a tournament, but (1) rethinking your youth development, understanding why (2) your best young player just stated that the best young players should go to Europe, (3) why your failed coach continues to pontificate on excuses for HIS…yes HIS monumental failure.

    • Ok. Start the process early. These are quality teams that offer competitive games. Why should these teams sit at home waiting to start the cycle?

    • So you’re saying instead of playing a small tournament which could allow young players to get some valuable experience, everyone should just stay at home and do nothing?!?!

      That’s a brilliant idea!

      • How do you not see that this is a money grab? Who do you think Italy would send? They have established young players that their moronic coach did not use. Trust me, Italy is not sending those players to that tournament. If they really cared, they would run a gap analysis of their current program and spend time developing a new system, AND they would spend time getting a new coach, who can implement his vision and the teams he wants to play against during that period.

    • If it’s just a few pre World Cup friendlies I can live with that. If they try to “brand” this is in any way or put some trophy at the end of it I’m going to lose it.
      Any “tournament” is laughable.

    • Of course, they are only going to do this if it’s going to make money. People want pay to play to go away and cheaper training programs for coaches. Guess what that costs money. Not mention trying to recoup some of the World Cup prize money that was lost by not qualifying. Gulati doesn’t even receive a salary its not like he’s lining his pockets with gate receipts.

    • Obviously they should look at the system and where players land professionally, but those are tangential to the MNT that continues to exist and needs to maximize its own short and long term fortunes. They can’t FF the development process. They can’t tell ManU or Schalke to sign and play everyone. They have games to play and can’t just go wallow someplace and not play games. Nor is that the best practical strategy for changing their results.

      Put differently, they can work on youth development, and get involved in player destinations, and still run their own show, and make decisions about whether friendlies or a tournament serve them best. It’s not mutually exclusive and you need a holistic solution anyway.

  7. I’d make it a 12-team tournament. Basically the NIT of International Football. Bring 2-3 teams each from CONCACAF/UEFA/CONMEBOL/Asia/Africa; you’d end up with a pretty decent field.

    We already know how to run a format like that with the Gold Cup. Make the ticket prices affordable as you can. Think you’d wind up with a pretty watchable event, definitely better than sitting at home doing nothing. Make sure it concludes before the World Cup and I doubt FIFA would have any kind of quibble.

    • The report out is that the matches would be pre-WC. Would that bother FIFA? If it did then can they take any punitive action against countries that participate? Honest question, not trolling you. Those seem like open dates for countries to schedule matches.

    • The issues I see are the perennial ones of mismatched league schedules and whether it’s on an international date. The US used to hold tourneys a long time ago in the summers — like the 90s — but there was either no MLS or MLS was nascent and saw cooperating as in its interest. USWNT does these kind of things but the women’s leagues are semi-pro and weak in power.

      Now you might be able to take a set of international dates and among the “loser clique” sort out mutual friendlies when they have player access. But would we prefer a top opponent to a second tier one? And is it to our individual advantage to empower a set of rivals? Or are we better off selfishly scheduling who we can get, where Italy and Netherlands might match us but other teams would struggle to secure opponents and are essentially freeriding off our concept.

      • It depends how the games are used. Do we field a team littered with recent failure members to “try and win” or is it handled like this Portugal game and we see some new faces. I would be concerned the constant cash grab schedule and our tendency to play to win (and roster like it) most of the cycle discourages identification and integration new talent, or the realization when changes or fresh blood are needed at the cost of a few non-qualifier results.

        In plain English, we got too attached to some older or underperforming players because they were nominally battle ready. But in most of the major battles they were subpar.

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