Sunday, June 27

Project Homeland Defense

Well, the 2010 World Cup just ended for the United States. Was Project 2010 a success or a failure? I guess that depends on what you thought the program was intended to make us a contender or a world champion. I would assume that most of the US-soccer viewing public that only care about the US would say that we are contenders - after all we are clear giants in CONCACAF and we reached the Final of the Confederations Cup a year ago with the stunning upset of Spain.

But CONCACAF isn't exactly a deep confederation as witnessed by Honduras' performance, and it took a miracle for the US to advance in South Africa last year before they played a great game-and-a-half against Spain and Brazil.

The issue is defense. The US squad spends so much time concerned about defense and giving up goals early in games when unprepared that it affects the entire 90 minutes, if not a whole tournament. If we had a reliable back four and a standout defensive midfielder that could be left on their own so we could attack with numbers, our offensive talent could really pressure most teams as seen by how we have played in the final 30 of each of these games when we are desperate. And it is not just this squad. Although we have great defenders, our defensive third has seemingly forever been incomplete while other positions, in my opinion, are improving. Having defenders who could handle their jobs, we could be like many of these other powerhouses who are always on the attack, placing their opposition in the crouching role. That should be the level that we are at with Project 2010, but sadly it is not.

What I think we need is a new Project 2010 concept, but specifically designed for defenders. We need a blueprint across the US development system that all coaches are using so that when the various youth national team coaches come and go, the players are continuing in the same system.

And while we are at it, can we get a little discipline. I am not inside the US camp, but I feel like our squad goes into matches completely too relaxed and that the only time we get amped up is when we play Mexico. The fact that we trailed, essentially, in all four games in this tournament is terrible, especially considering we should have learned from qualifying, where we fell behind in six of the 10 games.

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