With the rise of social media over the past fifteen years or so, the dispersal of information has become quite rapid and instantaneous. Seemingly, everyone nowadays has a cellphone with an internet connection almost anywhere you could possibly be in the world. Combine that with humans’ innate need to know things, we are constantly overloaded with information. Often times, especially in sports, this leads to us making assumptions and conclusions based on too little information, or based off the newest up to date information.
This applies to almost anything in the world, but being the sports fan – specifically soccer – that I am, I see it for more with the beautiful game than anything else.
A “struggling player” scores a goal, and all of a sudden he’s back in form. A top striker goes a game without scoring, and now he’s out of form. He’s worthless. You get the picture.
I’m a victim of it myself. It’s not always easy to step back and take a view of things from a wider lens. However, if we want to accurately come to conclusions about players and teams as a whole, this is what is required.
For example, Weston McKinnie picked up a rather unfortunate injury this week during Juventus’ first leg match against Villarreal in the Champions League round of 16. The injury is likely to keep him out for about two months, which means he will be unavavilbe for the last window of World Cup Qualifying. The knee jerk reaction from USMNT fans? We’re now in trouble for our World Cup Qualifiers next month.
The truth is, we are still in the same position. We are still second in the table, and we are still in control of our destiny. Missing one player – a very important player albeit- should not change the goals for the team as a whole. It absolutely sucks that Weston got hurt, especially when he’s been in such stellar form the past few months. However, being a good team means relying on your depth. That is supposed to be one of the strengths of this iteration of the US Mens National Team. We didn’t all of a sudden lose points, or drop in the table. The path to Qatar has not changed. Five points is enough to ensure we finish in the top three and guarantee qualification. Draw both road games, and win at home, and we’re in.
It’s understandable that fans would feel this way. Weston is a fan favorite. He is easily one of our top 3 players. But let’s keep in mind that our midfield is probably where we have the most depth in our roster. We still have Gianluca Busio, Luca de la Torre, Tyler Adams, and Yunus Musah.
I’m not writing this to say, I know more than anyone else, or that Weston being injured doesn’t hurt us, but the knee jerk reaction to things doesn’t really move conversation in the right direction. And like I said, I’m not immune to it.
Literally anything Christian Politic does anything brilliant on the pitch, I declare him the greatest USA international ever. Truthfully, I know he isn’t there ~yet~. But by writing this, I hope we can collectively come together to realize that things usually need time to breathe.
Ultimately, the US team will be alright. Even if we don’t qualify for Qatar, we will be alright. Remember, Italy missed the 2018 World Cup, and that gave them a clear direction to right their wrongs, and win the Euro’s last summer.
If we don’t end up playing in Qatar, which again, looks relatively unlikely on paper, one would think that would light a fire in the souls of all of our young players. Let’s not forget that we are literally the youngest national team in the world. And with this being the case, we have monumental expectations. So let’s calm down a bit, let things marinate, and watch the boys ball next month.
Thanks for reading!