Do Not Sleep on the US Men’s National Soccer Team!

Let’s be real: you can probably still sleep on the USMNT.

But after America’s male soccer squad (that sounds cooler than men’s national team, doesn’t it?) picked up a thrilling 3-2 victory over arch-rival Mexico in the Nations League Final, that sleep should have zero REM.

 

With internationally recognized star, Christian Pulisic leading the show and a stronger-than-usual supporting cast that includes John Brooks, Gio Reyna, and Weston McKennie, the US has the firepower to make some noise at next year’s World Cup in Qatar.

The hallmark of successful American teams and players in years past has been toughness and grit. Players that barely sniffed major European clubs like Brian McBride, Clint Dempsey, and Landon Donovan showed zero fear when matched up against juggernauts. And let’s not forget Tim Howard, who stood on his head in goal in nearly every important match.

That fearlessness all but disappeared in the 2018 World Cup qualifying cycle. The US got bodied twice by Costa Rica and then were ultimately eliminated in an embarrassing 2-1 defeat against Trinidad & Tobago. I repeat, the United States of America failed to qualify for the World Cup by losing to a country with an ampersand in its name. Talk about the opposite of grit.

But something has changed.

Maybe Pulisic, with four more formative years in the Bundesliga and Premier League (including the 2021 Champions League title) under his belt, is better prepared to lead the team.

Perhaps Taylor Twellman’s famous rant lit a fire under the players and coaching staff.

I don’t know the answer.

But what we all witnessed on Sunday, June 6th looked much more like a USMNT of old. Except now thay have a bona fide superstar at the helm.

They fell behind twice against Mexico and equalized both times – no easy feat. The second equalizer came off an exceptional header by McKennie with less than 10 minutes remaining.

In extra time, Pulisic used his speed and savvy to draw a penalty kick. Despite the Mexican players obnoxiously constructing a divot next to the spot, the 22-year old Pennsylvania native absolutely buried the game-winner in the top right corner. He proceeded to rip his shirt off and shush the Mexican supporters, who responded in kind by hurling bottles of beer at the celebratory American players.

When Mexico responded by drawing a soft, handball-in-the-box penalty, American backup goalie, Ethan Horvath morphed into soccer’s version of Dikembe Mutombo. “No, no, no, not today” is probably what he muttered under his breath after miraculously blocking Andres Guardado’s low, driven penalty.

Minutes later, the USMNT was lifting its first trophy since 2017.

They probably won’t win the 2022 World Cup. Hell, they haven’t even qualified yet.

But I’m already excited for next summer. It’s time to get behind these guys.

 

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