The 2010 World Cup keeps rolling on, but for U.S. national team fans, the reality is still sinking in that the United States' exciting World Cup run is over.
Success or failure? Tournament to remember or tournament to forget? While the disappointment of Saturday's loss to Ghana is sure to leave the lingering tinge of failure, we have to ask ourselves if the tournament the team did play was memorable and whether it exceeded or surpassed our expectations.
Truth be told, I don't see how anyone could call the tournament a failure. Winning the group, playing some exciting attacking soccer and capturing the interest and passion of America's mainstream, even if only briefly, was more than most could have imagined happening before the tournament began. The hard part is that there was certainly an opportunity lost because the USA missed a chance to potentially reach a World Cup semifinal, and play two more games to keep increasing the interest in the sport back home. That's why, for many, the aftertaste following the USA's World Cup is a bitter one rather than a sweet one.
If you haven't had a chance to read my post-match and post-tournament coverage of the United States over at FoxSoccer.com, here are some stories to check out:
I will give a more detailed take on the potential USA 2014 team on SBI on Thursday (if not sooner). For now, here are some final World Cup observations:
I think Bob Bradley did a great job during the World Cup cycle, but I also think two World Cup cycles can be too much for any coach. While I wouldn't consider it a major mistake if he returned, I do think it is a good time for a change, both for the national team and for Bradley.
Bradley was the perfect coach to groom a young team and help it through the transition after the retirements of Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride and Eddie Pope. He integrated new players, strengthened the team's schedule to a level that would have seemed unimaginable four years ago, and did a thorough job of looking at all the talent in the pool.
Now I see a change being made and Sunil Gulati will need to find a coach who brings a strong resume and experience in the international game. Juergen Klinsmann makes plenty of sense and it would be intriguing to see what Klinsmann could do over the course of a four-year cycle.
Change for the sake of change wouldn't make much sense to me, so I wouldn't really see the point in replacing Bradley with a coach from MLS. I do think there are some very good coaches in MLS, but I wouldn't really see the benefit of letting Bradley go and turning to someone in MLS. Now, if Bradley moves on and makes a run at a club job in Europe, then I could see someone like Dom Kinnear or Stevie Nicol being given a call.
That said, I still see Gulati looking for a big name. Be it Klinsmann, Carlos Queiroz or Ruud Gullit (okay, that last one was just to see if you were paying attention).
Landon Donovan got all the headlines, but Michael Bradley was the most impressive player on the U.S. team over the course of four matches in my book. I really can't see him staying with Borussia Moenchengladbach after the World Cup he just had. Where do I see him going? The English Premier League makes the most sense.
I know nobody likes playing the "What if" game but I can't help but think that, with a healthy Charlie Davies, Oguchi Onyewu and Jermaine Jones, the United States would have been a semifinalist with a chance of pulling off a big upset.
Whoever is the next coach will need to start grooming some centerbacks ASAP. Jay DeMerit and Carlos Bocanegra will be too old for 2014. There are some great prospects in MLS, but they need some serious seasoning. Tim Ream, Ike Opara and Omar Gonzalez are all quality, and I'm still convinced Geoff Cameron could be a standout centerback in Europe if he were allowed to develop at the position.
That's all for now. I will share my 23-man roster for 2014 on Thursday. For now, please feel free to share your thoughts on the U.S. team's World Cup. any of my Fox stories, and any of the above thoughts, in the comments section below.