Sunday, October 15, 2017

Gulati Has To Go

Responsibility, according to, means the state or fact of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one's power, control, or management.” It's a word I don't think US Soccer president Sunil Gulati really understands.

I say that because, on his conference call with the media on Friday, he said, “I take full responsibility.” However, moments later, he said, “No, I don’t plan to resign.”

The fact that Gulati still hasn't resigned reminds me of Vizzini from the movie The Princess Bride. After he cuts the rope the Dread Pirate Roberts is climbing up the Cliffs of Insanity, Vizzini says, “He didn't fall?! Inconceivable!” Inigo Montoya then says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

In just about any soccer (or football as the rest of the world calls it) nation on the planet, if the national team fails in as spectacular a fashion as the USMNT did on Tuesday in its loss to Trinidad, the coach usually resigns before the plane returns home. When England laid an egg against Iceland in the 2016 Euros, manager Roy Hodgson resigned during the post-game press conference. Luiz Felipe Scolari resigned as manager of the Brazilian national team after his team lost the third place game at the 2014 World Cup. Cesare Prandelli resigned as the manager of the Italian national team after their group stage exit at the same World Cup.

The clearest example, though, comes from France. After the French national team crashed out in the group stage at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Jean-Pierre Escalettes resigned as president of the French federation. In his statement announcing his resignation, he said, “I clearly accept my responsibility.” Escalettes clearly does know what that word means.

There are a few reasons I blame Gulati for the failure of the USMNT to quality for the 2018 World Cup. The biggest one is his failure to fire coach Jurgen Klinsmann in time. He waited until after the team lost its first two games in the Hex, putting the next coach (in this case, Bruce Arena) into a hole before they even got started.

If it had been up to me, I would have relieved Klinsmann of his duties more than a year before Gulati did. At a bare minimum, I would have fired Klinsmann after the 2015 Gold Cup debacle, which necessitated a playoff for CONCACAF's slot in last summer's Confederations Cup. If not then, definitely after the loss to Mexico in that playoff.

In a quote widely attributed (probably wrongly) to Albert Einstein, insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. If US Soccer wants to change the results, they need to change the way they do things.

As Taylor Twellman (love him or not) pointed out in his rant on ESPN following the loss to Trinidad, the Germans laid an egg at the Euros in 2004 (I know he said 2000, but I blame the concussions). The DfB (German soccer federation), Bundesliga and 2nd Bundesliga got together and charted their path forward for the next 10 years. Ten years later? They won the World Cup in Brazil.

Now, I'm not saying the United States will win the World Cup in 10 years if they change the way they do things, but if they don't change the way they do things, they may not ever win it.

Before you get on my back, yes, I'm aware the USWNT has won the Women's World Cup three times. I love the USWNT and the way they play (most of the time). I'm clearly referring to the men's team. Unfortunately, because of the way sponsor money works in sports, the USWNT has to depend on the success of the men's team for their funding. Is it right? No. It's just the way it works, as much as I'd love to change it.

So, what's the answer? I don't know. What I do know is that the USSF has to change the way they do things if they want to change the results they get. Who'll be the next coach of the USMNT? I don't know that either, but what I do know is that it shouldn't be Gulati's choice.

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