For American sports, the USMNT soccer program is far behind. Only recently has the USMNT come to dominate CONCACAF. Everything in the post-MLS era has been a great success, for what the US is used to. "When will the US be there?" is a good question. In many respects, the program is there for the following reasons: the sport of soccer is more popular than ever before, the MLS is expanding, more US players are playing abroad and the US team is consistently qualifying for the World Cup. However, results in the World Cup are where it counts. It's to be expected that we dominate CONCACAF. Particularly in the post-MLS era. Before that, it's understandable that we couldn't consistently qualify for the World Cup. Back then the team was challenged with unsurmountable odds against foes like Nicaragua and El Salvador. Oooh, El Salvador. And they would drop the iron fist on the US. Now, with the US dominating CONCACAF the fans shouldn't view that as a good thing. They should, but not completely. After all, it's CONCACAF. It's not the best conference around. Everyone knows that. However, there are some US fans that think it's great. They think it's top notch competition. Get past it. It's not. It's a weak conference. However, however, it might just be the third best region in the world. Europe, South America, then who? It could be argued that CONCACAF is the clear favorite for the third best slot. Africa, Asia? That's about it. Who else? There is nobody else. Still though, if anything, being geographically stuck in CONCACAF is holding the US back from a higher standard of play. You can play all the friendly games you want but your conference will define your team.
Furthermore, the reality of the MLS making the national team better is not to say the MLS is a super high quality league. Other than the aging talent from top tier nations the league mainly relies on players from odd places or "less desired soccer talent pools" like Kenya, Panama or New Zealand. Seriously, it's Kenya - they're not a good soccer playing nation. They just aren't. Cameroon, on the other hand, is a great pocket of talent. Why did Charles Barkley elbow that African guy in the chest, in the 92' Olympics? He disrespected him. He was from some back water basketball playing nation that was a joke. (Did I just use Charles Barkley to prove a point? Apparently so. I'm not sure what the point was but it was fun mentioning Charles Barkley elbowing some lesser talent in the chest, with a lead well in hand, mind you; you're destroying this team and you're going to cheap shot the guy? C'mon Barkley...It was a game they eventually won 116 to 48. And he's elbowing guys in the chest. That's kind of funny, in the American way that we expect to dominate all our sports with an attitude.) Just because it's exotic doesn't make it good. Stop getting players from Kenya and New Zealand, as though they're magically going to add something to the league just because they're from an interesting place. They're not. Their soccer programs are laughable and they're helping to bring down the quality of the MLS.
Despite great success, Germany has always been critical of their system. The critical approach has allowed them to grow and improve. Somehow, the US soccer nation needs to be more critical of the obvious things holding the team back, which include style and lineup choices. What's amazing is that the obvious answers to making the USMNT better are pretty simple. Take your best talent, and put them on defense. By best talent I mean offensive talent. And by best talent I don't mean Dempsey. Though he might be a good center defender you need him up top, organizing things. But, you need his skill back on the defensive end to kick start the possession end of the game. So, transition more center midfielders to center defense, and, more forwards to outside defense. At this point, your traditional center and outside defenders will be out of a job. And that's okay. That's the whole point. The defense needs an offensive upgrade. There's much more to do in order to improve the team's direction, but those defensive adjustments would drastically change the potential of the team in the next World Cup. These are pertinent coaching decisions that must be addressed.
Whoever is coaching there's a great amount of potential for the USMNT to walk away with the trophy in Russia. It's not crazy to say it. What is crazy is to keep saying "we're the underdog with no chance." Instead, take the stance of "we're the underdog and we have a chance." That stance is taken to a degree, but instead there needs to be a bit more arrogance about. Go for broke. Attitude will get the US a long way. Along with practical changes in the style and lineup choice.