Update 05/05: News today that Thomas Rongen is now out as head coach of the US U-20 team, ending a rocky near 10-year tenure, according to Fox Soccer’s Ives Galarcep.
A March and April CONCACAF series where the US failed qualify for the U-20 World Cup seeming to be the niggling impetus for a change.
US Soccer player luminary Tab Ramos will assume the manager’s duties temporarily for the team’s sojourn to France scheduled for
The move by US Soccer would seem to corroborate their steadfast public message that it’s the results that matter most over player or style development.
Below, commentary from April.
This is a guest post by Ryan Rosenblatt
The United States U-20 team were beaten 2-1 by Guatemala, ending their hopes of qualifying for the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup? Awful, no? Not so much. When the match ended, factions of U.S. fans reacted by labeling the team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup being called disastrous or a step back.
The U.S. used to need the U-20 World Cup and other big youth tournaments because it was a chance for clubs to get a look at young Americans and sign them.
2011 is another story, the squad is made up of almost all professional players already and the one non-professional to start, UCLA’s Kelyn Rowe, has interest from clubs abroad and is projected to be a top pick in the next MLS Draft if he signs with the league. These U.S. players don’t need to be “discovered” like past Americans.
Playing with the national team used to be a giant step up in competition and development for the American youth players, that’s no longer the case.
The U.S. will not see their development halted by missing out on the four games or so they would get at the U-20 World Cup. These U.S. youth players are going to return to Hoffenheim, West Ham and several MLS clubs. In fact, it wouldn’t be too difficult to argue that for a player like Bobby Wood with 1860 Munich or Conor Doyle with Derby is better taking part in preseason training with their clubs and establishing themselves their clubs than playing at a junior World Cup with the customary makeshift squad.
Players from several of the top teams in the world pass on youth international tournaments to focus on establishing themselves with clubs and it isn’t a detriment to their development.
The rise in quality in the U.S. youth is due in part to the Development Academy program that has made developing players a priority with matches and results not very high on the list. Isn’t that the point? Developing players as oppose to one observation on the road?
What the U.S. suffered from most in their loss to Guatemala is immaturity. When they fell behind they lost patience and were playing far quicker than they had to.
They looked very much like kids, which is what they happen to be.
They lacked cohesion and having been put together a few weeks before the tournament that is to be expected. The things that led to the U.S. losing were not things that related to developing skill and talent. They were issues with teamwork, maturity and in-match coaching. The first two could be attributed to their lack of time together and youth while the last one, conceding, will rightfully spur the debate about Thomas Rongen the coach versus Thomas Rongen the recruiter.
U.S. fans may be stung by this loss. Loses at any level are one some level themselves unacceptable, but this one, hardly.
The U.S. will now join Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and a host of other very good soccer countries that will not play in this summer’s World Cup.
Argentina and Portugal didn’t qualify for the previous one.
What the U.S. loss has really highlighted is the strides that the U.S. has made, talent-wise.
Now they are at the point that they can now look at youth tournaments the same way other established countries as a measurement of their players, not a measurement of the team. It’s the senior team’s victories and US soccer growth that will be remembered 10 years from now, not a loss to Guatemala that at present stings.