OK, so you’ve been enjoying another great World Cup, with an instant classic between Spain and Portugal to open the tournament, a big upset by Mexico over Germany and game after game of great soccer.
So, why isn’t the US part of it?
Well, ask those who have played for the US national team in the past, and the answer is simple.
“It's not our divine right that we should be in the World Cup. You know what, Italy, Holland, Chile, they have a heck of a lot more argument than us,” Eddie Radwanski said. “Now, should we be in, coming out of our region? Yes. I just think that we didn't do a good enough job.”
Radwanksi was a star player at UNC-Greensboro before beginning a professional career which included playing in World Cup qualifiers in 1986. His fellow US national team player, Eric Wynalda, says the entire culture of US soccer has to change.
“There are certain parts of our professional game that need fixing, there are parts of the youth game,” said Wynalda, who ran for the presidency of US soccer in February 2018. “We have a country that has so many kids playing soccer and they're trying to find their way through this process and we don't do a very good job providing a light at the end of the tunnel for them. They're just running through the woods as fast as they can and hope they come out the other end.”
Michael Coll, who played for Northern Ireland and replaced Radwanski as the head coach of the women’s team at UNCG, worries about the loss of international experience the upcoming crop of players will suffer by not making this year’s World Cup.
“In the World Cup of 2022, it will have been eight years since the last time we were in the World Cup so a lot of these young kids who are coming through, they wouldn't have had the experience,” Coll said.
But in the end, Radwanksi – who now coaches the women’s team at Clemson, says how the national team recovers depends on its attitude.
“This is part of our process and I'm going to give an example of what I preach with my team at Clemson: Wow, the US didn't qualify for the World Cup, so we're all down in the dumps. What is this? This is an opportunity. This is an opportunity for growth for football - for soccer - in our country. It's an opportunity for all of us who love the game, all of us need to get better invested in the game. Now, some people have to be a little bit more because they directly impact what's happening but I think this is going to present a great opportunity.”
Hear more from those former players in this edition of the Buckley Report.