Mexico 2-1 USA.
â€œThe greatest upset everâ€ proclaims Soccer America, and it may be.
But, having worked with 7 Mexican NWT players in the last 5 years, I am keenly aware of Mexicoâ€™s progress and abilities.
Is the Mexico result a precursor of challenges to come?
Yes, internationally the women’s game improves by 50% every 3-4 years but not in the US. So things may become more difficult in the future.
Should we worry?
In a one off any team can beat any opponent and every opponent the US faces will be up for the game. It was going to happen at some point that Mexico would beat the US, so no real reason to panic, yet.
Short term, I believe, Pia Sundhage has a squad well capable of qualifying and doing well in Germany.
Long term there are many reasons to be worried.
The technical abilities of our youth players are sub par.
Tactically we are naÃ¯ve.
Womenâ€™s football infrastructure, outside of universities, does not exist.
There is no national strategy or structure for player development.
In all human activities: wars, battles, businesses, politics, sports, human relations, there are events which change the course, which give one entity advantage over the others. Visionary individuals and organizations spot those early on and utilize them to their advantage.
Womenâ€™s football is no different.
Winning the womenâ€™s world cup is an event which sometimes benefits the winning nation, as it did Norway, a nation of only 5 million people, in 1993. Germany benefited from winning in 2003 and 2007. Both nations used their success as a springboard to strengthen their leagues, clubs, programs and structures.
Post 1999, the US did not.
Womenâ€™s football in the USA does not suffer from lack of money and interest, it suffers from lack of ideas.
Today, there still are two major global leaders in womenâ€™s football: USA and Germany, but only one of them reacted to the success of the FIFA Womenâ€™s World Cup 11 years ago, and with it the commercial possibilities demonstrated, by exploring every possible way of maximizing that potential.
The 1999 success actually damaged the US by making the USSF complacent. On the other side of the Atlantic it demonstrated to Germany (and also the UEFA and FIFA) what womenâ€™s football can become.
In 1999 the German FA developed a long term plan for growing the womenâ€™s game sportingly, commercially.
From the beginning the Germans understood that building long term success, interest in the game, and fan loyalty, begins with a national, comprehensive, long term strategy. In Germany there is a balance that benefits both the Frauen Bundesliga and the national team. What is the USSF’s vision for women’s football?
In the US, the commercial success of 1994 and 1999 has not translated into investment in the womenâ€™s game.
Where has the money gone?
As I have stated before, the USSF is failing in its fiduciary responsibility of developing womenâ€™s football in USA. The federationâ€™s lack of long term strategic planning has been clear to all who care to see it for a decade now.
The success of 1999 has blinded everyone to an international process where all important nations are gaining ground on the USA.
The success of 1999 has, in a perverse way, damaged us.
Right now, not in 2012, disconventional thinking is required. Womenâ€™s football, in terms of marketing, commercial potential, and player development, essentially is a 21st century phenomena but the USSF uses 20th-century methods trying to solve these challenges.
Womenâ€™s football will continue, and it will continue to grow internationally, and unless the USSF reforms, our international standing will suffer for generations to come.
Next week, â€œHow to stop the tide â€“ a blueprint for longterm womenâ€™s football success.â€