The United States Men’s National Team played on Friday in Paris against France’s national team in an exhibition game. France was hoping to field a team that can erase the memories of mutiny from last summer at the World Cup. The U.S. was trying to sort out a line-up that can get the job done, even against such a well-known footballing country. Both teams received valuable information during the game. Unfortunately, one team learned that they have a very good foundation in place, while the other learned that there is still a long way to go.
The American team is still very far from being considered legitimate competition on the world stage. While France looked dangerous throughout the match, the USMNT could not have looked less frightening. Play consistently broke down going forward, and the few times we had created some semblance of a chance, a poor decision typically ruined our few moments of quality.
The USMNT currently has one win under new head coach Jürgen Klinsmann. Our lack of wins is a bit difficult to handle, considering that Klinsmann is known for developing an attacking style of play. The American team has speed and power. For some reason, it seems that the composure of players, even players who have played in the best leagues in the world, is what seems to be lacking. How is Klinsmann going to sort out this lack of composure? He is currently fielding players with a great deal of potential and limited experience. This is one way of inoculating younger players against the pressures of international competition. However, will fans want to wait for our players to grow into the professionals that we need them to be, or will Klinsmann, and his approach, fall victim to short-sighted and impatient American attitudes?
The reality of the situation is that players on this team are being asked to develop under a microscope. This experiment could lead to a crop of mature, developed, confident players with the skills to perform on the world stage. Or the team could burn through legitimate players, prevent them from developing by having them fold under the pressure, and we can continue to disappoint when we happen to play any team that isn’t Panama.