The traditional soccer ball has 32 panels, one for each of the countries in Europe. International soccer has, in the eyes of the United States, always been exactly that: international. Soccer in the USA was never very popular and it’s still struggling in popularity, with the number of fans slowly growing, but nowhere near sports like football, basketball, and baseball.
The comparison between soccer in Brazil (and anywhere else) and soccer in America is hugely unbalanced. Still, the USA soccer team blazes forward, yet to make history by claiming a World Cup title. In the wake of the USA men’s national team not even qualifying for the 2018 World Cup earlier this year, they’re changing things up a bit.
The former leader of the USA men’s team, German native Jurgen Klinsmann, is being replaced by Gregg Berhalter, who has been chosen to lead the USA team going forward. Now, most accounts don’t portray Berhalter as a shining personality who’s going to flip the US men’s team upside down like some sort of knight in shining armor. Instead, his coaching philosophy lies in a firm, foundational understanding of the game.
He’s a two-time World Cup veteran who has both played and coached at soccer clubs in England, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States. His resume is impressive, even if his style isn’t so flamboyant as Klinsmann’s.
“My job is to make it as simple as possible. Our game is based on very simple principles. They’re not complicated principles. To execute it on a very high level does take some time, but it’s based on simple principles,” Berhalter said when probed on how he plans to coach.
He plans to take the United States back to the beginning. To relearn the fundamentals that it seems they’ve long since left behind. He says that it will be a process, which he won’t use as an excuse to say the US team will be good years and years down the road. Fundamental development takes time and shows progress that many don’t find riveting to watch if they notice at all. Whatever the progress, we’re eager to see.
However it goes, the eyes of the world will be on the United States over the next several years; they’ll either be ready to cheer or ready to scoff, much as it has always been.