It's been a fascinating year on the American soccer scene. The U.S. women's national team triumphed at the Olympic games. The men . . . won some friendlies and managed to not totally fall on their faces in qualifying. The San Jose Earthquakes and the Houston Dynamo showed that hard work and team spirit can carry a team to success. The LA Galaxy proved that LOL NOPE, dolla dolla bill, y'all.
As 2012 makes way for 2013 and Landon Donovan smoulders plaintively into sunsets on far-flung beaches, we'll take a look at what some of American soccer's leading names might be putting down as their New Year's resolutions.
Jurgen Klinsmann - Find a new central defensive pairing. The U.S. men's national team's corps of defenders from the 2010 World Cup are all on the wrong side of 30. Oguchi Onyewu and Jay DeMerit have seemingly been forgotten; Onyewu made one competitive appearance in 2012, coming on as a sub in the June 8 win over Antigua and Barbuda. Demerit didn't see a single minute. Clarence Goodson has never played outside MLS or Scandinavia. Though Geoff Cameron has seemingly slotted into one of the two spots, the other, currently filled by captain Carlos Bocanegra, remains a huge doubt. Boca has been a mainstay in the U.S. backline for the better part of decade, but he'll be 35 in 2014, an age at which very few defenders can play at an elite level.
Brek Shea - Become more consistent in the final third. Change your hair, it looks awful.
Tom Sermanni - Get the best out of Abby Wambach while changing the style of play. The U.S. women's national side is still the best team in the world on pure ability, but other teams can outplay the Yanks as a unit, as evidenced in the World Cup final loss to Japan in 2011. At the same time, new coach Sermanni still has the best female player in the world in Wambach, whose straightforward, physical style has been the embodiment of the U.S. approach.
Omar Gonzalez - Take the next step. Omar will turn 25 this year, and is coming off a successful season where he shook off a nasty ACL injury to play a huge part in winning Los Angeles a second straight MLS Cup. Having achieved everything he's likely to in Major League Soccer, now is the time to move to Europe and prove himself worthy of becoming the anchor the Yanks desperately need going into 2014 and the World Cup in Brazil.
Chris Wondolowski - Impress Jurgen Klinsmann. Set the MLS scoring record. Again. Learn German. Or Spanish. Or better yet, both at once. Call it "Deutschpañol." Maybe buy a used VW beetle. Or rather, comprar ein auto Volkswagen Escarabajo en azul. Jawohl.
Kyle Beckerman - Establish a consistent place in the U.S. squad. Change your hair, it looks awful.
Jermaine Jones - Become more self-disciplined. "Germany" Jones has long had issues with discipline, just this month recieving a suspension that will keep him out of action until early February. Last season, a stamp on Marco Reus' foot cost him eight weeks. His habit of picking up yellows means he's occasionaly a liability in midfield, one that the U.S. can ill afford from one of its most experienced players. To reach his best, Jones will have to temper his temper. Unless you know, the guy really deserves it.
Alex Morgan - Keep being awesome. Keep being awesome.
Megan Rapinoe - Be the creative force in a new-look U.S. women's squad. As the U.S. women transition into the post-Sundhage era, they'll be looking for more of the tricky, creative flair a player like Rapinoe brings to the side. And don't ever change your hair, it's awesome.
Dominic Kinnear - Figure out how to beat Bruce Arena in big games. For two years now, Kinnear, one of the best coaches in MLS, has come up against Arena for the league's ultimate prize and been found wanting. Trophies are a habit borne out of repitition, so Kinnear needs to find a way to defeat Arena. Or you know, have him kneecapped.
Michael Bradley - Don't forget how to defend. Michael Bradley's club coach at AS Roma is the idiosyncratic Czech Zdenek Zeman, whose approach to defensive tactics veers between "score more than them" and "LOL, YOLO, you guys." The U.S. requires him to play a slightly different role, which sometimes includes coming back on defense and taking the ball away from opposing players, so if General Bradley could remember how to be a little more Wellington and a little less Patton, it would help the Yanks.
Stu Holden - Take care of himself; body, mind, and soul. Buy all the bubble wrap, duct tape to legs before every game. Start an awesome hair Tumblr with Megan Rapinoe.
Follow Keith Hickey on
- Sports & Recreation