Complacency, The Culprit For U.S. World Cup Failure

Complacency, The Culprit For U.S. World Cup Failure

The historic defeat exposed the many issues with the way U.S. Soccer and its players operates.
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The dream of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup finally fell apart for the U.S on Tuesday night with their loss to Trinidad and Tobago and wins for Panama and Honduras. It was a fitting end to a woebegone campaign that saw the team win only three games of ten in the final round of the Hexagonal in the CONCACAF, the most forgiving of the regional groups.

While the result was surprising to many coming off a strong showing against Panama Friday, it was no surprise to fans who have been paying attention.

As was the norm through most of qualifying, the Americans had no answer for the concentrated and organized defensive front presented by the opposition. The defense continued its sloppy play, with Tim Howard doing most of the work despite the fact that he is nearing 40. On the other side of the ball, the only offensive production for the Americans came from 19 year old Christian Pulisic. Contrary to what Bruce Arena seems to believe, one kid prodigy cannot score all the goals, or make up for all your team's deficiencies, though God knows Pulisic tried.

Much has and will be written in the wake of this blow to all of American soccer about lack of leadership, mediocrity of the players, and the anger and embarrassment of everyone involved with U.S. Soccer. And all that should be written, because this is an organization which deflects criticism rather than acknowledging it.

But it all boils down to one thing: complacency. The president of U.S. Soccer, Sunil Gulati, was complacent in keeping Klinsmann for far too long. Bruce Arena was complacent in his refusal to make any meaningful changes in his approach to compensate for deficiencies throughout qualifying. And, most importantly, the players were complacent in their belief that they would qualify against a T&T team that had long since been eliminated. So much so, in fact, that the opposing players used it as motivation.

I would like to believe that that loss will kickstart change for the better in U.S. Soccer, but the postgame press conference did not breed confidence. Who knows? They have plenty of time for introspection between now and the start of the Qatar cycle. In the meantime, let's hope the women don't follow in the men's footsteps

Cover Image Credit: NAIJ.com Sports

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To The Coach Who Took Away My Confidence

You had me playing in fear.
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"The road to athletic greatness is not marked by perfection, but the ability to constantly overcome adversity and failure."

As a coach, you have a wide variety of players. You have your slow players, your fast players. You have the ones that are good at defense. You have the ones that are good at offense. You have the ones who would choose to drive and dish and you have the ones that would rather shoot the three. You have the people who set up the plays and you have the people who finish them. You are in charge of getting these types of players to work together and get the job done.

Sure, a coach can put together a pretty set of plays. A coach can scream their head off in a game and try and get their players motivated. A coach can make you run for punishment, or they can make you run to get more in shape. The most important role of a coach, however, is to make the players on their team better. To hopefully help them to reach their fullest potential. Players do make mistakes, but it is from those mistakes that you learn and grow.

To the coach the destroyed my confidence,

You wanted to win, and there was nothing wrong with that. I saw it in your eyes if I made a mistake, you were not too happy, which is normal for a coach. Turnovers happen. Players miss shots. Sometimes the girl you are defending gets past you. Sometimes your serve is not in bounds. Sometimes someone beats you in a race. Sometimes things happen. Players make mistakes. It is when you have players scared to move that more mistakes happen.

I came on to your team very confident in the way that I played the game. Confident, but not cocky. I knew my role on the team and I knew that there were things that I could improve on, but overall, I was an asset that could've been made into an extremely great player.

You paid attention to the weaknesses that I had as a player, and you let me know about them every time I stepped onto the court. You wanted to turn me into a player I was not. I am fast, so let me fly. You didn't want that. You wanted me to be slow. I knew my role wasn't to drain threes. My role on the team was to get steals. My role was to draw the defense and pass. You got mad when I drove instead of shot. You wanted me to walk instead of run. You wanted me to become a player that I simply wasn't. You took away my strengths and got mad at me when I wasn't always successful with my weaknesses.

You did a lot more than just take away my strengths and force me to focus on my weaknesses. You took away my love for the game. You took away the freedom of just playing and being confident. I went from being a player that would take risks. I went from being a player that was not afraid to fail. Suddenly, I turned into a player that questioned every single move that I made. I questioned everything that I did. Every practice and game was a battle between my heart and my head. My heart would tell me to go to for it. My heart before every game would tell me to just not listen and be the player that I used to be. Something in my head stopped me every time. I started wondering, "What if I mess up?" and that's when my confidence completely disappeared.

Because of you, I was afraid to fail.

You took away my freedom of playing a game that I once loved. You took away the relaxation of going out and playing hard. Instead, I played in fear. You took away me looking forward to go to my games. I was now scared of messing up. I was sad because I knew that I was not playing to my fullest potential. I felt as if I was going backward and instead of trying to help me, you seemed to just drag me down. I'd walk up to shoot, thinking in my head, "What happens if I miss?" I would have an open lane and know that you'd yell at me if I took it, so I just wouldn't do it.

SEE ALSO: The Coach That Killed My Passion

The fight to get my confidence back was a tough one. It was something I wish I never would've had to do. Instead of becoming the best player that I could've been, I now had to fight to become the player that I used to be. You took away my freedom of playing a game that I loved. You took away my good memories in a basketball uniform, which is something I can never get back. You can be the greatest athlete in the world, but without confidence, you won't go very far.

Cover Image Credit: Christina Silies

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The Reports of Seattle's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

If the season ended today, the Seahawks would make the playoffs.

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Well, well, well, what do we have here? A Seattle Seahawks team which isn't a complete complete dumpster fire, despite expectations? Looking at the playoff standings through eight weeks, if the season ended today it appears the Seattle Seahawks would qualify for the postseason. In a year where the Seahawks were supposed to be rebuilding, they are trending for a playoff berth at the halfway point.

Not many people thought the Seahawks would be in this position. The common line of thinking revolved around Seattle looking hapless, playing for a ceiling of roughly 5-6 wins at most. Someone even predicted the Seahawks might even contend for the first overall pick in next year's NFL draft. The defense was supposed to be one of the worst units in the League, especially after losing players like Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and Kam Chancellor.

Instead, the Seahawks are the third-ranked defense in the NFL. They have allowed the fourth-fewest points, the third fewest passing yards, and second in interceptions. Seattle's young defense has stepped up in a way hardly anyone expected they would, and the Legion of Boom might be starting a new era.

As for the offense, we have seen a complete turnaround. In the first two weeks of the season, Seattle's starting offense looked about as well as we predicted. Since the embarrassing loss to the Bears on Monday Night Football, the Seahawks have become a run-first team and are scoring practically at will. Their biggest weakness, offensive line, has surprisingly become one of their biggest assets.

Yes, the season is long, and there is still plenty of football to be played. Not to mention the fact Seattle will be facing quality opponents like the Chiefs, Vikings, Panthers, and Rams once more. But for now, the Seahawks have battled expectations and are performing much better than predicted.

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