US National Team: Chronicling the downfall


In 1998 the United States finished dead last in the World Cup. But truthfully that World Cup showed itself better in France than the current US team has performed of late. Despite an inability to finish chances in Steve Sampson’s odd 3-6-1 formation, the US only conceded five goals in the entire World Cup. Moreover in the previous nine months before the World Cup the US had achieved its only point ever at Estadio Azteca against Mexico and had beaten Brazil.

The US Men’s National Team had a successful run under Bruce Arena. In 1999 the United States defeated Argentina in a friendly, and Germany, twice one of the meetings being at the Group stage of the Confederations Cup. In 2000, the US crushed Mexico in a friendly and in 2002 the United States reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

But beginning in 2003 the US started a steady decline which has culminated in this week’s humiliating Confederations Cup.


  • The US finishes last in its Confederations Cup group with a mixed squad of World Cup veterans and second tier players. Despite the troubles, the US does only concede three goals in the entire tournament, including a 1-0 loss to Brazil.
  • The United States loses in the 2003 Gold Cup semifinals in Extra Time to Brazil at Miami’s Orange Bowl. The US played well but Kaka’s late equalizer sent the game into a golden goal extra time where the US would lose. But Brazil lost to Mexico in the final.
  • The US looked completely outclassed in a friendly against England at Chicago’s Soldier Field, quite a shock considering the US had advanced as far as England in the previous World Cup.
  • The 2005 Gold Cup saw the US lift the trophy. But a sold US team struggled to beat Honduras in the semifinals and needed PKs to defeat Panama in the finals. Mexico sent a “B” team after defeating eventual champion Brazil in the group stages of the Confederations Cup.


  • The US is exposed defensively in a friendly against Germany where Jurgen Klinsmann’s team scored four second half goals on the US.
  • The US loses an embarrassing friendly at home to Morocco
  • World Cup 2006 proves to be a debacle with the US conceding three goals to an aging Czech Republic to start the campaign.
  • The coaching search for the US allegedly worldwide ends with Bob Bradley, longtime MLS manager and former Bruce Arena assistant at Virginia and DC United getting the job. Jurgen Klinsmann had turned down the job.


  • The US limps through the Gold Cup conceding a goal to Panama despite being a man up and then needing a fortunate (and wrong under the rules) call late to hold off Canada. Then in the final the US conceded its first goal to Mexico on American soil in eight years but still won 2-1.
  • Copa America debacle: The US “B” Team leaves Venezuela without a point but actually plays much harder and smarter than the US team has this week in the Confederations Cup. (It should be noted for the USA dominates CONCACAF crowd that Mexico defeated champion Brazil in the first match of this tournament)


  • The US fails to win against Mexico on American soil for the first time in nine years with a 2-2 draw in Houston.
  • The US looks helpless against England at Wembley. The next week the US performs very well in the first half against Spain but after Freddy Adu is subbed out for DaMarcus Beasley the US collapses and loses.
  • The US struggles in road games against Guatemala and Cuba in the semifinal round of qualifying scoring a single goal against both CONCACAF minnows on the road.


  • The US beats Mexico 2-0 in Columbus but Mexico is missing several regulars and plays a man down for much of the second half.
  • The US draws with El Salvador on the road, the first time the US hasn’t defeated a nation outside the top 100 of the FIFA rankings this decade.
  • The US concedes two quick goals in Costa Rica in route to a 3-1 qualifying loss.
  • The US records its worst loss against Italy since the 1934 World Cup in a 3-1 defeat. It is the worst loss ever suffered by the US against Italy outside of Rome.
  • The US ties the national team’s all time worst loss against Brazil (and records its worst ever outside Brazil) in a 3-0 loss.

Should Bob Bradley be retained as USMNT Coach after the Confederations Cup?(answers)

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the World Soccer Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the books 'Blue With Envy' about Manchester City FC, and 'Soccerwarz' about the MLS, USL and NASL infighting.
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