Two years ago this week, the U.S. men’s national team lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago, missing out on the 2018 World Cup and reaching what American soccer fans thought was rock bottom. This week, the team got hammered by lowly Canada, a 2-0 loss that wasn’t as close as the score. It was the first time in almost 35 years the USA had lost to Canada, and it made the truth obvious: The program has not improved since that loss in Couva, and is not getting better under coach Gregg Berhalter.
But given how the U.S. Soccer Federation works, don’t look for changes.
It’s one thing to lose to Mexico while dogmatically sticking to a style of play, which Berhalter did twice in a few months. It’s a far different thing to be completely overrun by Canada. In Berhalter’s system, his players still look lost. Canada, with much less talent, had a plan and followed it.
Change seems unlikely, though. Earnie Stewart, who hired Berhalter, was just promoted to be the federation’s sporting director. Stewart’s boss is the federation CEO. That post, currently open, is widely expected to go to COO Jay Berhalter, who — you guessed it — is Gregg’s brother.
• After the last game of her team’s season, Utah Royals coach Laura Harvey told reporters that she would not be the new head coach of the U.S. women’s national team. This points to current Reign FC coach Vlatko Andonovski being the overwhelming favorite for the post. His team takes on North Carolina in the NWSL semifinals Sunday afternoon (12:30 p.m., ESPN2). It seems likely that U.S. Soccer is simply waiting for the end of his season before hiring Andonovski.
• Multiple reports have indicated that Sacramento will become MLS’s 29th franchise Monday, likely joining Austin (in 2021) or St. Louis (in 2022) to keep the league at an even number of teams. Sacramento once seemed like Minnesota’s main rival for a spot in MLS, but has repeatedly been passed over. Adding billionaire Ron Burkle, who also owns the Pittsburgh Penguins, to the ownership group seems to have tipped the scales.
Premier League: Liverpool at Manchester United, 10:30 a.m. Sunday, NBCSN. When Sir Alex Ferguson became Manchester United manager, he vowed to knock Liverpool “off its perch” — and he did, as ManU replaced its northwest neighbors as England’s greatest dynasty. Now, Liverpool is the European champion and at the top of the table. The Red Devils are in an existential crisis, and 12th in the standings. This old rivalry might be the most bitter one for either of these teams.
Writer Jon Marthaler gives you a recap of recent events and previews the week ahead. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org