The news that had been expected ever since the United States men’s soccer team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia came to pass on Friday, as Bruce Arena offcially submitted his resignation as the USMNT’s coach.
Arena became the U.S. coach after the dismissal of Jurgen Klinsmann following defeats to Mexico at home and Costa Rica away. With the USMNT at 0-2-0 following their first two matches, the U.S. Soccer Federation chose to bring back Arena, who guided the Americans to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, in hopes of getting through the qualifying cycle with their streak of qualifying for every World Cup since 1986 intact.
Instead, it became apparent that the 2018 team simply wasn’t good enough compared to previous editions. The U.S. won just three matches in the final round of qualifying in CONCACAF, none of which came away from home. Even when the Americans played at home, they weren’t the same team they’d been in the past.
In the 2014 cycle, the U.S. were not only unbeaten at home, they never conceded a goal, outscoring opponents 8-0 as they cruised to a perfect home record and 15 points on their home turf to make qualification a breeze. This team was nowhere near that level. The U.S. beat that goal total in a pair of matches against Honduras and Panama, but they also lost to both Mexico and Costa Rica at home, their first matches dropped at home since Sept. 1, 2001 against Honduras.
The United States won’t have a competitive match again until the 2019 Gold Cup, which the team will not have to qualify for. It is likely to play friendly matches during the summer, which could give a potential new coach a chance to start experimenting with lineup changes and fresh faces. The U.S. isn’t likely to start qualifying for the World Cup again until 2020, by which time changes could come to CONCACAF.