By Michael Lewis
No, my computer keyboard has not malfunctioned, and I did not type the same word over and over again by mistake.
That word, among others, is the proper what to describe the latest U.S. debacle, a 2-0 loss to Canada at BMO Field in Toronto in the Concacaf Nations League.
I have a few other words to describe the U.S.’s performance, but someone might call FrontRowSoccer.com an X-rated website.
The defeat was the Americans’ first to their northern neighbors since a loss in in 1985, a scant 34 years ago, during the Dark Ages of U.S. Soccer (the original North American Soccer League went through its death knell the year prior and the USA was on its way to missing the World Cup again, even though it did not have Mexico as a road block as El Tri was hosted the 1986 tournament).
Seems like the stone age for the USA back then.
Two years ago this month, we thought the USA had hit rock bottom after that rathe distressing defeat at Couva, Trinidad & Tobago when the Americans failed to book a spot in soccer’s promised land for the first time since that 1986 competition. There was sort of a symmetry there.
And then this piece of crap happens. I can say crap here, right?
Canada isn’t Mexico.
Canada isn’t Costa Rica.
The Canadians haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 1986, the only time have.
On Tuesday night, they demonstrated more zest and desire than the visitors. They played like a hungry side that wanted to prove itself.
Heck, I felt I was in a time warp (at least those 1985 teams had an excuse, there was no high-level pro outdoor league at the time and many players were competing in the Major Indoor Soccer League, not exactly the best way to prepare for World Cup qualifying or any international match).
Tuesday night’s game was a nightmare.
Lack of communication, especially when defending.
Even the Great American Hope Christian Pulisic was pulled from the match.
Where was the heart? Where was the passion?
It must be a combination of the coaching and the players selected and the skills of the players.
What happened to those players who played with so much heart and set the table for future generations, those of John Harkes, Tab Ramos, Marcello Balboa and Tony Meola?
What happened to a recent generation of players who would run through steel doors to win, those such as Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra?
This current generation of American international players have not come close to holding those legends’ boots, let alone their jock straps.
Disgusting, utterly disgusting.
In games like this, coaches’ jobs can be in jeopardy. But given what happened in 2016 — Jurgen Klinsmann getting sacked and Bruce Arena being brought in to right a shaky ship — I just wonder how shy U.S. national team general manager Earnie Stewart is about pushing a button and pushing a coach out.
Fortunately for the USA, World Cup qualifying doesn’t begin for a year.
Unfortunately for the Red, White and Blue, it hardly looked like a World Cup-caliber.
Since Gregg Berhalter took over the reins of the team, you have to wonder how much the team has improved but rather has regressed.
The U.S. squad won’t be graded on what transpires in a 7-0 shellacking of an undermanned Cuban side, a result it achieved last week). The Americans will be graded on how they fare against the likes of Mexico and Costa Rica in Concacaf and some of the top international sides.
If they can’t play any better than Canada and improve their performance, the Americans could be watching from the sidelines for a second consecutive World Cup, come Qatar 2022.
I shudder the thought of that becoming reality, but after Tuesday night’s debacle, that could happen.
Now, that would be truly embarrassing in the very worst way.