If you woke up this morning hoping that last night’s 2-1 U.S. Men’s National Team loss was just a bad nightmare, you weren’t alone.
The defeat, which eliminated the U.S. from the World Cup for the first time since 1986, was felt around the country, including by the Americans on the Columbus Crew SC roster.
“I mean I didn’t sleep well last night,” midfielder and captain Wil Trapp said. “I woke up early. I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen a World Cup without us in it.”
Trapp was not a part of the qualification failure, but has played twice for the Red, White & Blue and was a part of the most recent January camp. Many of the players are guys that Trapp either knows well or plays against in Major League Soccer.
This makes it even more tough to stomach.
“Obviously it’s extremely disappointing as a fan, but knowing those guys of course they are devastated. The soccer nation as a whole is devastated,” Trapp said.
Trapp is not the only one with U.S. Soccer connections. Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter had an illustrious career in both Europe and MLS and accumulated 44 caps for the national team.
Berhalter is one of the few Americans involved with the Black & Gold who can remember the last time the U.S. watched the World Cup from home. And he was in high school.
“I was sad, I was shocked,” Berhalter said. “I was watching it and I actually got angry when the announcer said we didn’t qualify. We still had the free kick and they already ruled us out. I was mad; I was pissed off.
“I think first and foremost you’re upset for the team, you’re upset for the coaching staff and the players and all of U.S. Soccer that we aren’t going to be partaking in the World Cup. So we are sad. Its a sad day. We’ve had a great run the U.S. and some great performances in the World Cup and it hurts to know that we won’t be a part of it next time around.”
While not a part of the national team, defender Josh Williams is one of the more passionate fans on the Columbus roster. For him, watching his country fail to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in his life was “heartbreaking.”
“That’s the way I would describe it,” he said. “I was heartbroken and obviously such a fan of soccer and it means so much to our country right now. I think that soccer is growing at a crazy rate in our country right now and to have that happen just kind of takes the wind out of the sails that the U.S. Soccer had been growing this for so long and the past successes in World Cups had led us here and you could feel the country almost rising for it.”
Like many U.S. Soccer fans, those involved with the Crew SC are wondering what’s next for the federation. Some are suggesting that “heads need to roll” when it comes to those in charge.
“Thankfully that’s nothing I’m involved in and I don’t know,” Berhalter said when asked about that approach. “I haven’t been involved enough to know to be honest to given you a qualified answer.”
One thing that is certain is the focus must now go to the next qualification cycle, and that means getting younger.
This could provide opportunities for players like Trapp or even goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
“I don’t see why not,” Berhalter said. “The national team should be a collection of the best talent that the country has to offer... You want the talent of our country assembled on the field to win games and the most talented guys should be selected. If it happened to be Wil or Zack, we would be so happy for them and we would love to see them get the opportunity.”
This is something Trapp would certainly welcome.
“Of course,” he said. “Every time there’s talk of it being shaken up, every player should be thinking, ‘Hey these are new guy coming in here, there’s opportunity.’ So yes, that’s always something that I work towards irregardless of this result.”
While seeing these Crew SC players representing America would make many Black & Gold fans happy, it’s no consolation for the country not qualifying for the World Cup this time around.
That’s something Williams thinks hasn’t even really set in for most people, as the wounds are still too fresh.
“I don’t think its going to feel real until the World Cup comes around and we are not in it,” he said. “Until then, you kind of just expect it to happen you expect to be in it.
“It’s hard for me to put into words.”