The USMNT camp is in the middle of a rock bottom after the unrest in the Capitol
The U.S. men’s national team’s first camp in 2021 began Saturday in Bradenton, Florida, just three days after a fatal breach of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC by supporters of President Trump resulted in the deaths of five people, including an on-duty Capitol cop.
And as for Americans everywhere else, the surreal and frightening events of January 6th stuck in the minds of the USMNT players when they returned to work this week.
“We all know how terrible these events were and we all understand that there is a need for change in many ways in this country,” said striker Jordan Morris, who is back on the national team for the first time since 2019 as the COVID-19 pandemic erased all but four games from last year’s schedule. “I think the big thing for us and what I talked to the guys about a little bit – our goal as a national team is to be a positive portrayal of what that change can be and how we need to move forward in those tough times. We hope to be a positive light as a team. “
In 2020, following the death in May of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose killing was taped while in police custody in Minnesota, US players regularly unleashed fellow athletes from all sports and sparked worldwide outrage. When the American team took to the field against Wales in November after their unplanned nine-month hiatus, they wore part of Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote “Be the change you want to see in the world” on the front of their warm-up jackets.
Coach Gregg Berhalter said the team had not discussed a specific response to last week’s uprising, in which members of the mob openly threatened House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi and Trump’s own Vice President Mike Pence. But he added that “there is conversation within the group.”
“As with everything, our efforts don’t stop when the year is over,” said Berhalter. “The way I see it, this is a low point for us – there is a lot of room to improve as a country. And here we can all be better examples, we can all be better citizens. And if you watch [Wednesday’s violence] It doesn’t live at all with what we know as America. It is not what we are as a country and it is disappointing to see. But all we can do is be good examples and continue our efforts to make change. I think that’s an important message for the team. “
Despite the ongoing health crisis, US men have been on a clear upward trend lately, having failed to spectacularly qualify for a FIFA World Cup in 2017 for the first time in 32 years. A new generation of exciting young players has emerged, playing well for some of Europe’s most successful and important clubs, including Sergino Dest in Barcelona, Weston McKennie with Juventus and Christian Pulisic from Chelsea.
Dest, McKennie, Pulisic, and most of the other overseas player pool members are not available for this camp as it falls during their club season. Berhalter only called 12 players from MLS this month. Veterans Jozy Altidore, Paul Arriola, Aaron Long and Sebastian Lletget are among the veterans who have joined Morris.
The group trains with the 26 players selected by US U23 national coach Jason Kreis. He hopes to qualify the US men for their first Olympic appearance since 2008 in March. A combined U-23 / A national team is expected in Serbia in a TBA exhibition later this month.
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