Sampson used to coach the U.S. national team. Alexander Bohlen | Courtesy Photo

The United States soccer community is still reeling from the national team’s loss to Trinidad and Tobago that eliminated the United States from qualifying for the next World Cup.

Cal Poly men’s soccer head coach Steve Sampson coached the U.S. Men’s National Team from 1995 to 1998 and is critical of the recent direction of the program.

“Very, very sad time for U.S. Soccer,” Sampson said. “For us to have qualified for every world championship since 1986 and not to do it this time around, very disappointing.”

Sampson suggestsed that the U.S. Men’s National Team might not only need a change in coaching staff, but a change in the system itself. According to Sampson, the team needs to focus on the development of younger players and completely shake up the team’s composition.

“There has been absolutely zero renovation to our national team since prior to Brazil,” Sampson said. “Christian Pulisic is the only player on the team that is of that younger generation. The players that played in the qualification phase, the older players, they provided so much quality for this country, but a lot of them are on the downside of
their career.”

The team’s elimination from World Cup contention may not be so bad in the long run for U.S. soccer. According to Sampson, the tough loss might be a needed wake up call for the professional soccer community and bring positive changes to the process of player development.

“I think in the short term it’s going to affect the game, but I think intelligent heads will prevail and come up with a plan that will possibly make soccer better in this country,” Sampson said. “Sometimes this is the jolt you need in order to make change and change is definitely in order right now.”

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