Soccer’s ‘most important project’ begins, not the World Cup, but the U.S. Men’s National Team’s journey to its 2018 World Cup Finals, which begins in Brazil.
The ‘project’, in the literal sense of the word, begins a week before U.S. Soccer’s men’s World Cup qualifying campaign begins, when it holds an event designed to showcase its young, up-and-coming talent, the youth national teams that will compete at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup and, of course, the U.S. National Team that will be preparing for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
It’s a unique event, as USA Ultimate has never created an event to showcase the youth of its four separate youth teams, and for good reason. There’s simply no way to show off the talent of all the players — particularly at the top level — who make up U.S. Soccer’s national team.
It’s for that reason that the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign will begin against a Mexican club in mid-June and end with its final, and U.S. Championship (for men and women) match, in early July, a week before the start of the Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
In other words, the U.S. Men’s National Team will begin and end the qualifying campaign in a state of flux.
The U.S. Youth National Teams
The U.S. Soccer federation — which is comprised of just three men and three women — has traditionally been very careful not to create a hierarchy of youth national teams.
Of course, part of the reason for the organization’s preference is that there’s simply no one better to promote the youth of its national teams than its elite athletes and coaches, who have more autonomy and time to develop and train their young players.
The hierarchy of youth national teams, while popular among many fans, was also created in the early days of the federation’