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Revising the narrative: Did we paint the right U.S. U-23 picture?


Earlier today I did a lot of talking about style, philosophy, and backup plans, offering that if Caleb Porter doesn’t have the latter, it might be his undoing. Keep in mind that Plan A shouldn’t be rubbished just yet; however, we now have serious reasons to doubt, and those whispering that the U.S. didn’t have the personnel to enact Porter’s philosophies now seem a bit more prescient.

But in the run up to the qualifying tournament, the detractors were certainly marginalized to the fringes of the conversation. Which makes sense. When hopes are highest, nobody wants to listen to Debbie Downer. Questions about stylistic fit, whether Porter could make the adjustment from college soccer, and whether he was signed off on by Jurgen Klinsmann were brushed aside. Instead, we were given a litany of articles about how the revolution is nigh.

As a result, we don’t have much to fill the void created by the U.S.'s early exit. What do they do now? We don’t really know, as nobody really pressed Porter for his backup plan. What do you do if this approach fails, Caleb? Few dug that deep, and if they did, it’s unlikely they would have gotten a straight answer. Coaches don’t usually like to talk about Plan Bs, lest they undermine the faith in Plan A.

But I still can’t help but feel that the ball was dropped, a bit. At some point, somebody like me needs to explore those angles. Along with capturing the excitement of the Olympic dream, we need to mention that there are doubts, potential stumbling points, and in the process paint a picture that includes some of the counter-points. I didn’t think the U.S. would have any problem getting to Kansas City, and I would have bet good money on them making it to London. Still, there were valid, now justified reasons to think things wouldn’t be so easy.

But perhaps we’re tired of hearing that story. The plot points are nearly identical to the ones in the Jurgen Klinsmann story. Can his style work? Will this be a revolution? Does somebody with his resume deserve this job? Does he have the horses? Is he the right fit? Perhaps, by the time Porter was appointed U-23 coach, we were over it. No need to re-hash all that.

Last night’s outcome, the Canada loss - they were clearly surprises. The end result: A flop. Unfortunately, it’s caught a lot of us a bit off-guard. Perhaps some of the doubts that will be aired over the next few days could have been hashed out before?