Everyone seems to have an opinion on U.S. Soccer these days, especially after the failure to qualify for the World Cup.
But one thing most people are in agreement on is the USMNT needs to play the best competition in the next few years to help the new generation acclimate to the international game.
With so many notable nations missing out on Russia, discussion on social media has suggested the USMNT should be involved in a tournament featuring Italy, Chile, the Netherlands and others during the summer.
In theory, the idea sounds great and according to ESPN, there’s been exploratory talks about that exact idea, but is it the best way for the USMNT to build up chemistry and experience next summer?
As fun as the proposed tournament sounds, it may not be beneficial to the Americans to participate in it. After all, there are plenty of reasons why those nations failed to qualify for Russia. They all have flaws just like the USMNT and deserved their fate.
The top driving force behind a tournament like this if it were to happen would be the same that brought the Copa America Centenario to American shores in 2016: money. Bringing Italy, the Netherlands, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Chile and others in for a competition before or after the World Cup would be nothing more than a cash grab with some profits going to U.S. Soccer, an organization that isn’t exactly struggling financially.
Another concern for this proposed tournament would be the logistics, especially for the Americans with players in both Europe and MLS. The USMNT’s European-based players would face a quick turnaround and it would force some stars out of MLS early, just like if the USMNT was in the World Cup.
One would think some MLS clubs would be reluctant to release their players during the regular season for some cash-grab competition. If the USMNT was preparing for the World Cup, it would be a different story.
Another hang-up with this NIT or Europa League of international soccer is La Liga and Serie A don’t finish until May 20 this year, unlike the Premier League and Bundesliga who conclude their seasons the weekend before.
With the World Cup set to begin on June 14, it would be an incredibly quick turnaround to get the necessary players, especially those from Italy, ready for a tournament that doesn’t count for anything.
When you look at all the factors involved, the easiest answer for the USMNT this summer is to play teams already headed to the World Cup in friendlies at the end of May with mostly European-based players and then offer up a game to a team like Italy who missed out on Russia at the start of June when everyone is settling down in Russia for the World Cup.
The idea of staging a tournament sounds great in theory because of all the big names that would be involved, but the more realistic idea is to have a friendly or two in early June right before the World Cup to get games in against level competition after a match or two against a qualified team.
It may not sound like the sexiest idea, but it’s the right one for the USMNT to start developing its young core.