brent flanders flickr page
As the stadium in Seattle, chanted “We’re going to Brazil” it begs to question whether this US National Soccer Team has what it takes to make history for the ages. The US has undoubtedly been scrutinized in the past, for their lack of success, questionable talent, highly paid coaching and continuous high expectations, but with their recent 2-0 win over Panama, frustrations could be disappearing and history could be in the making.
The US defeated Panama in a dominate 2-0 win, essentially stamping their ticket to Brazil; they now have a 98.5% chance of qualifying for the World Cup. The US played like a real team rather than a sack of frustration. Leading the way was Jozy Altidore and Eddie Johnson, who each had a goal. The US made the better plays, connected more passes, made better runs and finally found ways to unlock a stout Panamanian defense that has dogged them for years. The victory puts the US on 10 points through five games in the Hex – the exact same spot they were in halfway through qualifying in 2009. By this time next week, the United States could have one leg and a couple of arms already in Brazil. A win over Honduras next week in Salt Lake City will see the Americans with 13 points with four matches remaining; it probably takes 14 or 15 points to book an automatic spot into Brazil.
More than just earning results, the U.S. showed us the kind of fluid team performance, from back to front, that suggests coach Klinsmann’s team is reaching a new level in its progress toward Brazil 2014. But how close is this team to where it wants to be a year from now? It’s one thing to beat Jamaica and Panama, but could these Americans hang with Brazil? With the improvements that the team has made since Klinsmann’s arrival, it has been a cultural change and a cultural process. It comes down to maximizing the U.S. players’ best traits, the ones they’re developing at the club level as they continue climbing the ladder, which is Klinsmann’s strength. So far we can let the results and the methods speak for themselves. These days, things are going well in Klinsmann’s U.S. operation and if he can continue summoning such performances in Brazil next year, he might not only be worth his $2.5 million a year salary but this team might be on the verge of making history.