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trman73

After 10 years with FM, my first career update

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February 19, 2037 - Euro Cup First Knockout Round, First Stage: Vitoria Guimaraes vs. West Ham

This is not a team I know anything about. They're third in the Portugues league right now though, so they've definitely got something. They've scored the second-most goals in the league and allowed just 18 in 21 matches. They finished second in possibly the worst Euro Cup group, with Fenerbahce winning it and AEK and Legia finishing well back.

Adrian Marriott is back for this match, leaving only Mahsas unavailable. I'm torn as to what to do with some of our guys, but I'm going to go with the team we've been using, then bring Marriott, Drent, and Perez in to play the FA Cup match against Fulham. I like starting on the road, as I'd rather know exactly what we need to do in the second leg when it's at home.

We get that all-important road goal early, as Jack Wilson finds Chris Barker for an easy chip shot in the 24th. We catch a big break five minutes later when Guimaraes has a man sent off. I have half a mind to go into attack mode to try to net another, but we'll wait and see. Right before the half, Mario Romero hurts his foot, and while he's shaking it off on the sideline, Guimaraes goes on a run and scores to tie it, with the goal coming from my former Liverpool youngster, Martin Guedet. Really unfortunate. It's 1-1 at the break.

The second half drags on and we're content to leave Portugal all even, but in the 87th we make a defensive mistake that leads to an easy shot in front of our net, and they convert. With seconds to go in stoppage time Bonet hits the post with a wicked shot, but it bounces away and we fall, 2-1, giving up both goals while a man up. We've got work to do in the second leg next week.

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Sorry about the double post...

February 22, 2037 - FA Cup, Fifth Round: West Ham vs. Fulham

With the second leg of the Euro Cup next week and us now needing to put in a significantly improved performance, this competition takes on less importance. So this is the chance for Leiva, Drent, Marriott, Perez, and Grassi to get their legs back under them. I still think we can win this to advance to the quarter-finals.

Getting those players some match action is about the only thing we can take out of this one, as we draw, 0-0. I'm not saying I would rather have lost than play a reply match, but man, I really didn't want to play a replay match. We don't get it done though, and we'll see these guys again in nine days.

If we win that match to reach the quarters, we'll face... the winner of the Nottingham Forest-Everton rematch, at home.

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Edited by trman73

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February 26, 2037 - Euro Cup First Knockout Round, Second Leg: West Ham vs. Vitoria Guimaraes (Vitoria Guimaraes leads, 2-1)

Guimaraes actually played its weekend match the day after ours, so they'll be on tired legs just as we are, if not more. I've been in this position in cups before, and we know what to do. I trust our defense to get the job done, and for the offense to out at least one past them.

OH MY GOD I JUST GOT FIRED!

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Edited by trman73

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Folks, I am stunned. Absolutely stunned. On December 7, I was called into the chairman's office and given the ultimatum to improve results. We went out and lost three of four after that, and then proceeded to go 7-5-2, losing only to Wolves in the league and to Guimaraes in the Euro Cup match last week. As I looked to the future, I really saw a win over that team at home in the second leg, and a push at the end of the league season with a number of weaker teams on our schedule for the final 11 matches.

This is total bull****. This is the first time I have ever, EVER, been let go over a lack of squad harmony. And there were only two players who were even upset: Felipe Fidalgo over playing time, and he was slated to be a starting defender next year and was getting plenty of run this season (starting 11 league matches and basically all of them lately with Mahsas' absence), and Bradley Kretzschmar, which, who cares. He's our fifth forward.

I am legitimately angry over this firing and in the interest of full disclosure, I came incredibly close to closing out, replaying the Fulham match, and moving forward. But I have never done that in any career I've ever played, and I can't do it now (especially since I just posted the screen shot). Although I'll admit, as I write this, I have not yet saved the game since the firing.

I know I said that I would finish this career when my tenure at West Ham ended. I am not going to do that. I have coaching left in me in this career. I am going to see what happens. And I am going to be absolutely freaking pissed if this team winds up making a run in Euro Cup and in the league at the end of the season.

DAMMIT!!!!!!!

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I saved. *&^%^*^$#@%@*#(#)$)*&@&@&

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Edited by trman73

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Of course West Ham comes back to win the second leg of the Euro Cup fixture, 3-1. And they beat Fulham in the FA Cup replay. But they lose to Everton in the FA Cup quarters, and they lose to Gelsenkirchen in the round of 16 of Euro Cup. They are 0-1-1 in the league since firing me, so that's 1-2-3 overall.

GOOD.

As for me, I've applied for three jobs: OL, Fiorentina, and Cardiff, which lost Gavin Strachan when he was hired by... West Ham. I get an interview with Fiorentina but refuse to play the style they want, and don't get the job. Cardiff lists me as their leading candidate.

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The season is over. I did not get any of the jobs I applied for, which is fine. As for my former employers, I couldn't be happier. They play 16 matches after canning me and go 3-7-6, including 2-5-4 down the stretch in the league. They score 14 goals in 16 matches, and allow 20. They finish 12th in the league. 

I have two job offers on the table. One is from Leverkusen. The other is for a return to Juventus. I'm going to clear my head for the night and decide tomorrow.

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That was a tough way to end your West Ham carrer. Sucks. But Leverkusen sounds quite interesting :thup:

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I had hoped you would stay in England and enact revenge. Looking forward to either job though

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Okay I've had a day to think about it and after going back and forth on whether to end this career, I still don't want to. But I don't want to take over Juventus again. and honestly I'm not feeling Leverkusen (I have actually never coached in Germany in all the careers I've had). At the same time, I'd much rather take a team during the summer than mid-season. I am 63 years old right now. I'm going to keep forwarding and see if the perfect job comes up.

Well the "perfect job" doesn't come open as the season approaches, so I wait it out. And on August 2, 2037, this happens...

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And at age 63, I embark on my final challenge, one that I turned down a few years ago but that I now see as the final frontier, and the opportunity that, if I'm successful, would cement my legacy as the greatest American manager in football history. I am now the head coach of...

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THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

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When I started this save, I had five goals...

  • Win MLS Cup - I never coached in MLS, but I'd say winning two Serie A titles, a Euro Cup, two Champions League titles, and a World Cup makes up for this one a bit. :cool:
  • Get hired by West Ham United - Done. Bittersweet.
  • Take the Hammers to the Champions League title - Uhh, no. What might have been.
  • Coach a national team (preferably the U.S.) in the World Cup - Italy to the world title. Check.
  • Retire a legend - I'll leave that for others to decide. :brock:

So now here we are... my first job in my home country is managing the US Men's National Team (USMNT).

It's fair to say that the US of A has not really moved football forward in my country over the past 20 years. Basically, we play three major competitions over the course of a four-year cycle: The World Cup qualifiers and then the World Cup itself, and the North American Gold Cup. Here's how we've done.

US International History (2018-2032)

Obviously the big one is the World Cup, and it hasn't been good for two decades:

  • 2018: Second in Group G (1-2-0, 5 pts.), lost to Mexico in First Knockout Round
  • 2022: Third in Group B (1-0-2, 3 pts.; Germany and Poland advanced)
  • 2026: Third in Group C (0-2-1, 2 pts.; Belgium and France advanced)
  • 2030: Third in Group H (1-0-2, 3 pts.; France and England advanced)
  • 2034: Fourth in Group A (0-0-3, 0 pts.; Switzerland and Cameroon advanced)

So that's no knockout stage appearances in four cups, and an overall record of 3-4-9 in the last five competitions.

In qualifiers, we've finished second, third, first, third, and third to get into those last five cups. We've gone 27-13-10 in those matches and were in real danger of not qualifying a couple times.

As for the Gold Cup, it's really been a string of sub-par results. There have been 11 of these competitions since this save started, and we've won it once. We lost to Guatemala in the semis this year, which is what got our previous coach fired. We won it in 2021 and lost in the finals four other times, meaning that in fewer than half of these competitions the United States has been one of the top two teams in North America.

All of this is just totally unacceptable. We're long past the days where Americans dreamed of competing with the best on the world stage, but come on... the Gold Cup? Since our last win, Mexico has won it five times, and Canada, Jamaica, and Guatemala have won it. Absolutely terrible.

However, a quick look at the roster will quickly explain some of this...

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This team is just not very good. Have a look...

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Good. GOD.

Our highest-valued player is Andre Kronberg, at $5.75 million. And he plays for... San Jose! We have exactly two players in our squad of 23 who play football in Europe: 32-year-old Elliott Mauger, who has been a good right midfielder in Belgium and Holland for a decade but looks like he's on his last legs, and 22-year-old defender Josh Hunter, who has been starting for an AJ Auxerre team that has jumped from Ligue 1 to Ligue 2 in recent years. Other than that, it's 21 MLS guys.

A note here - When Jurgen Klinsmann was the USMNT manager in real life, one of his big things was the US players should be playing in Europe, which I wholeheartedly agree with. However, the MLS actively works against that, trying to keep national teams guys playing domestically by offering them what's called "designated player" contracts allowing them to make way more money than the average MLSer. Each team gets a certain number of these guys, ensuring that quality players are spread throughout what is soon to be a 24-team league, and ensuring league parity and that no team ever really establishes itself as a dominant force... which, if you ask me, also ensures that the league sucks. If there are Americans reading this who are fans of the MLS I'm sorry (and I do actually go to FC Dallas games each year and have pondered season tickets). But yesterday was the last day of the MLS season and I watched highlights from a bunch of games at once as teams tried to make their push into the playoffs or for positioning (also, 12 of the current 22 teams make the playoffs, which is terrible). And I saw a lot of bad soccer, dominated by guys who would be average at best in mid-level leagues like Eredivisie. So ladies and gents... put all that together, and you have the Americans sitting at home for the 2018 World Cup because they can't get their **** together down in Trinidad and Tobago and take care of business.

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Aye, MLS is getting more popular, which is great, but it's a real disaster still. 

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I'm jumping right into two key matches in my first contests as USA boss. We've got four games to go in North American World Cup qualifying, and here's what we've done thus far...

  • Home win vs. Jamaica, 3-0
  • Away win at El Salvador, 1-0
  • Home win vs. Costa Rica, 3-0
  • Road draw with Guatemala, 2-2
  • Road loss at Jamaica, 1-0
  • Road loss at Mexico, 3-0

So after winning our first three we've gone winless in the next three, which, coupled with the usual Gold Cup flameout, is likely what cost Luke Miller the job (he went 24-2-14 in his three years in charge - not great). Still, we're in good shape. Here's the current table...

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Our last four matches are home vs. and El Salvador team that's worst in the competition, then at Costa Rica, home vs. a Guatemala team that won the Gold Cup, then home vs. Mexico in the grudge match that we haven't beaten at all since 2023, a span of 10 matches (0-2-8). So again, we should be fine here.

I've installed my trusted 4-3-1-2 formation as we don't have high-level players for basically any format, so I might as well stick with what's worked for me.

Next up... a look at the roster heading into the World Cup Qualifiers.

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United States World Cup Qualifying Roster

If we weren't playing poor El Salvador and Costa Rica teams in these two matches, I'd be incredibly worried about the overall quality of our team. I plan to be here through the 2042 World Cup, and in the next four and a half years we've just got to get some better players. But, here what we've got...

Goalkeepers - I call up verteran Danny Rowe to start in net. He's been the primary US keeper for many years, and at age 34 he's still my best option. He'd been dropped for the last set of qualifiers, but he's back. He plays for Xolos Tijuana of the Mexican First Division. Two 32-year-olds back him up, but I plan to ride this guy in both matches. He's got 92 caps for the USMNT.

Defenders - This is an area that will need to be way, way better by the time the World Cup comes next summer. Jesus Ernesto Estrada is a good right back, but the rest of the starters are subpar, and the backups are just terrible. I'll go with Tyson Bailey, a 27-year-old from Atlanta United, at left back, and his 24-year-old club teammate Ewan Fontaine (one of the MLS's best defenders), along with Vancouver's Daniel Trujillo, in the middle. Ugh.

Midfielders - We may actually be okay here. Elliott Clark, a 30-year old who's a really good player for FC Dallas, plays in the middle, flanked by Cody Frisch and Carlos Lopez. Frisch is the third Atlanta United player in my starting lineup.

Attacking Midfielders - I surprise the pundits by calling up 24-year-old Lewie Marshall from Sporting Kansas City to start at attacking midfielder. He'll get his first international caps for me in these fixtures, and I'm interested to see what he can do. He's backed up by a veteran MLSer, Ty Pooley.

Forwards - This is our best area. 23-year-old Andrew Kronberg is probably our best overall player. He's scored 19 goals in 38 career games for the US and is second in North America World Cup qualifying with eight goals. He's legit, and has 33 goals in the last year and a half for San Jose in MLS.DC United's Bob Holt is paired with him, and he's another quality goal scorer in MLS.

Again, we're not challenging any decent team in the World Cup with this group. But they should be enough to see us through easily given our competition in these two matches.

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September 4, 2037 - North American World Cup Qualifier, Game 7: United States (3-1-2, 10 pts., 3rd) vs. El Salvador (1-0-5, 3 pts., 6th)

El Salvador's only win in what Americans call "The Hex" was a 1-0 home victory over Costa Rica, our opponent in a few days. They've scored just three goals in their six matches, and we beat them 1-0 in El Salvador in our first match. This game is being played in Denver, and only about half of the stadium's tickets have been sold. That says a lot about where we are as a football nation right now. I'm excited to see what we look like out there, and hope that some of my pessimism is abated today.

Let's get started with the Good Ol' U. S. of A.!

We take the opening ball, Bob Holt takes it down the left sideline, and finds Kronberg streaking to the net for a goal 20 seconds into my first match. In the 21st my new man Lewie Marshall, making his first appearance for the US, finds Holt with a pass, and he scores to make it 2-0. I expect that the flood gates will open and that we'll net a handful in this one, but the game ends, 2-0. I'm slightly disappointed with our execution in the offensive end following the two early goals (we manage only one other shot), but we'll take the win and try to build on it in four days when we face Costa Rica to clinch our spot in the 2038 World Cup.

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September 8, 2037 - North American World Cup Qualifier, Game 8: Costa Rica (1-1-5, 4 pts., 5th) vs. United States (4-1-2, 13 pts., 2nd)

Costa Rica has fallen on hard times and they are about to miss their second straight World Cup. They have the worst defense in this competition, conceding 14 in their seven matches. We beat them 3-0 at home in our first match, so I expect to win and hopefully punch our World Cup ticket today. I'm sticking with the same lineup I used in the El Salvador match.

We score first, in the 34th, on a long cross that finds Bob Holt. But Costa Rica evens the score just a few minutes later, and we head to the break 1-1. Then in the 58th, disaster, as Costa Rica takes the lead on a corner kick. Wow... we're not very good. We're just not generating chances. We go into attack mode, and in the 82nd, midfielder Carlos Lopez scores on a long-ranger to tie it for us. Just 90 seconds later, a long pass from Jesus Ernesto Estrada finds Holt, and he scores to give us back the lead at 3-2. We show grit in coming back for the win, and we're rewarded by officially qualifying for the 2038 World Cup.

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October 9, 2037 - North American World Cup Qualifier, Game 9: United States (5-1-2, 16 pts., 2nd) vs. Guatemala (2-2-4, 8 pts., 4th)

We technically don't have much to play for here, but we still need to put in good performances as we've only got a handful of matches between now and next summer. I've scheduled my friendlies for November and March. We'll face Syria and Ivory Coast at home to close out 2037, then head to Belgium in March for a big test.

But for now it's revenge time, as Guatemala beat us in the semis of the Gold Cup earlier this year, then beat Haiti (Haiti?) to win the thing. They can also clinch their spot in the World Cup continental playoffs with a good result here. I don't want to let that happen.

We're in Columbus, Ohio for this one. I'm sticking with the same lineup of 23 guys, as I want to get some cohesion on the club. But some new guys start today as I also want to look at some of the guys who didn't get run in our September matches.

One of the new guys I bring in is attacking midfielder Ty Pooley, and in the 18th he gets a nice little chip pass from Kronberg and scores to make it 1-0. Just two minutes later, he returns the favor, finding a streaking Kronberg down the left side of the box and he makes it 2-0. We get a corner in the 25th, and Bob Holt fires it onto the foot of defender Josh Hunter, and just 25 minutes in it's 3-0.  The Guatemalans score in the 41st, and that's the last goal of the game. We win our third straight, and we finish off qualifying in four days with our biggest test of my tenure thus far, a match in my hometown of Dallas... against Mexico.

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October 13, 2037 - North American World Cup Qualifier, Game 10: United States (6-1-2, 19 pts., 2nd) vs. Mexico (8-1-0, 25 pts., 1st)

Mexico had a miserable World Cup in 2034. They went 0-2-1 and didn't get out of their group. Their struggles continued in four friendlies after that, as they went 0-2-2, losing to Algeria and Wales. Things did not look good.

Since a 1-1 draw with Germany on October 17, 2034, they've gone... 37-4-0.

Are you kidding me??? We are approaching their third anniversary without a loss. Along the way, they won the 2035 Gold Cup, and this year's Confederation Cup, beating Argentina in the final. (They sent their B Team to this year's Gold Cup. They lost to Haiti in the semis.) They've outscored their opponents 98-20 during their 41-match win streak. In World Cup Qualifiers, they've rolled, scoring 24 goals and conceding two. During one stretch spreading from late 2034 to mid-2036, they won 27 of their 28 matches. During this run they've beaten Germany, Argentina, Holland and Spain by a combined score of 6-1.

They are now the 4th-ranked team in the world, behind only Argentina, France, and Italy.

So... they're good.

But we should come in with some confidence, and I bring back the starting players who didn't play against Guatemala. This is a new era for us in my mind, and this would be a huge building block performance if we can somehow just get a result.

We're fine in the first half and go toe-to-toe with the Mexicans. The first 45 minutes end at 0-0, and I encourage the team in the locker room. Mexico comes out strong in the first 15 minutes of the second half, but we continue to hold them off. Then in the 60th, we catch them on a counter attack. Kronberg finds Bob Holt with a pass, and he gets by the central defense and scores into the top right of the net! 1-0 USA!!! Mexico goes all out from there, but the defense is holding, and we get to the final five minutes with the lead.

We get to stoppage time, and we keep the ball in their end for the final two minutes. The final whistle blows, and we have ended Mexico's 41-game unbeaten streak!!!!

Things are happening with this team, people!

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Edited by trman73

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November 13, 2037 - International Friendly: United States vs. Syria

The Syrians will be sitting out their third straight World Cup and are currently ranked 67 in the world. Our previous coaching staff didn't schedule our last friendlies of the year prior to being relieved of their duties, so these guys and the Ivory coast were the best of all available teams.

We've moved from 28th up to 19th due to our four-game winning streak and our big victory over Mexico. I'm sticking with my same group for these friendlies, then will re-evaluate the roster at the end of the calendar year in advance of our spring friendly in Belgium. We're in Jacksonville, Florida for this game then head back to Dallas to play the Africans.

We get plenty of chances in the early going, and in the 11th Ty Pooley puts us up with a soft goal that the keeper should have saved. Pooley gets his second just 40 seconds later, scoring on our next touch to make it 2-0. Syria gets one back in the 16th, but we score twice more in the first half: off a corner that leads to a goal from defender Ewan Fontaine, and then on Pooley's third of the half. It's 4-1 at halftime. No goals in the second half of this one, and it's a dominant win. I'm 5-0-0 as manager of the US.

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November 17, 2037 - International Friendly: United States vs. Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast is ranked 23rd in the world and they'll be in next summer's World Cup. So this is a quality test for us back in Dallas. A number of MLS coaches have asked that we only give their guys 45 minutes on the pitch, and I'll go ahead and honor that. But I want to finish 2027 with six straight wins.

It takes 10 minutes or so for these teams to feel each other out, but in the 11th, Kronberg finds Bob Holt with a pass, and he fires a shot from outside the box that gets past the keeper and we're up again! Ten minutes later, Elliott Clark leads Ty Pooley with a pass, and he scores to make it 2-0. Then Holt and Pooley connect, and Ty Pooley has really established himself as our starting attacking midfielder heading into the World Cup, as he has six goals and an assist in the four matches he's started.

We bring in our second team for the final 45 minutes, and Ivory Coast takes advantage, scoring in the 63rd on a corner and then again in the 72nd to make it 3-2. But that's all they get, and we go 6-0-0 in my first half-season with the US Men's National Team.

Next up... the World Cup Draw!

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It's the eve of the 2038 World Cup draw, and here's how continental qualifying shook out. You'll notice one enormous surprise.

Africa

  • Returning - Ivory Coast, Nigeria
  • New - Congo DR, Ghana (1st time this save), Senegal
  • Out - Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt

Asia

  • Returning - Australia, Iran, Japan
  • New - South Korea
  • Out - Iraq, Qatar, UAE

North America

  • Returning - Mexico, United States
  • New - Canada (Host; 1st time since 1986), Jamaica
  • Out - Honduras

South America

  • Returning - Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay
  • New - Ecuador (1st time this save)
  • Out - Colombia

Oceania

  • Returning - None
  • New - New Zealand
  • Out - None

Europe

  • Returning - Belgium, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Turkey
  • New - Austria, Ireland (1st time since 2002), Serbia, Ukraine
  • Out - Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland

The shock is right here at the bottom, and it's Portugal not making the trip to Canada. These guys have made it to the semifinals of each of the past four World Cups, but they finished one point behind an inspired Ireland team in their group despite going 7-2-1 (the Irish went 8-0-2). Their chances to qualify came down to the last day of the competition, as they needed Turkey to lose or draw at Cyprus. But the Turks won 5-0 to take the final European second-place spot (Serbia and Ukraine were the other second-place teams to make it).

Up next... we find out who we'll be competing against in Canada.

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December 4, 2037 - 2038 World Cup Draw

I'm excited to see who we'll face off against in the world's biggest sporting event. We're playing well right now and have beaten two top 25 teams in Mexico and Ivory Coast, but we're clearly not one of the world's best teams, and it's highly unlikely we'll become one in the next seven months. So a favorable draw here would be wonderful as I hope to lead us to the knockout phases for the first time since 2018.

It's time to find out... let's do it!

We're in Pot 2 along with the four Asian teams, Jamaica, New Zealand, and England.

We're drawn to Group B, and the first team in our group is... the two-time defending World Cup champions from Germany. Yikes.

Next up is the South American and African pot, and we get... Senegal, back in after missing out four years ago. They've finished third or fourth in the three Cups they've been in this save.

And finally, the remaining European teams. And the last team drawn to our group is... Ireland, one of the big surprises to make the competition.

So... Germany is the 4th ranked team in the world. Ireland is currently 17th, and Senegal is 18th. But I see a path out of here with good performances over the Senegalese and the Irish. All things considered, I will take this. If we somehow get out of the group, we'll face one of the teams that advance out of Group A, either Canada, England, Serbia, or Uruguay.

We'll play the teams in the order we drew them: the Germans in Calgary to open, then Senegal in Ontario, then the finale with Ireland in Toronto.

Here's the full draw...

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Edited by trman73

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United States 2037 Season Review

Overall the U.S. went 9-2-4 in 2037. We went 5-1-2 in World Cup qualifiers, 2-1-2 in the Gold Cup, and won our two November friendlies.

But I can only really speak to how we did in my six games in charge. So we went 6-0-0, and won all four of our qualifiers to finish second in that competition. We outscored our North American opponents 9-3 in those four matches, highlighted of course by the huge 1-0 win over Mexico, probably the biggest win for the U.S. since we beat them to get into the Confederations Cup in 2023.

2037 Grade: Overall: B-; w/TM as manager: A

Most Valuable Player: F Bob Holt. Holt started all six of my games and scored five goals with four assists, including the huge goal against Mexico. He'll be a key player for us in the World Cup. Runners-Up: AMC Ty Pooley won the attacking midfielder job for me with six goals and two assists. And DR Jesus Ernesto Estrada had a 7.6 average rating in our six matches and is clearly our best defender.

What I'd say overall is that we've got about a half a team's worth of quality players who will form the foundation of our club for the next four years. Right back Jesus Ernesto Estrada is one of those guys. Central defenders Josh Hunter and Daniel Trujillo look like they are. Forward Andrew Kronberg definitely is. And we've got guys in that 27-29 range who might show signs of decline over the next four years, like Ty Pooley and Bob Holt.

But at other positions, like left back and the midfield, we're just not up to par. Hopefully we can grow some gems here in the next couple years, but we're definitely not a complete team talent-wise, and the depth is just horrible. So I'll search for some players who can give me 20-30 minutes in the World Cup here over the next few months, and we'll see how many of our current guys come with us to Canada.

Edited by trman73

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March 30, 2038 - International Friendly: Belgium vs. United States

I forgot what a beat-down it is to forward through 120 days without action. Yuck. I got offered an interview with Watford during that time, a job I would normally jump at, but I can't abandon the US with the World Cup just three matches away. I schedule my two friendlies in advance of the Cup: Poland, which is not in it but is ranked 22nd, will play us in Kansas City, then we'll host #12 Ukraine in Chicago six days before we kick off against Germany.

But first it's Belgium, ranked 9th in the world, in Brussels. This is a quality road opponent, something we haven't faced in my brief tenure. I have made a few changes to the roster, and have my 30-man preliminary squad in mind for World Cup training camp.

We play the Belgians to a scoreless first half, and we've got a really gritty team that's in the right place at the right time and knows what it's doing. In the 52nd minute, Andrew Kronberg makes a run down the left side of the box, then finds Bob Holt with a pass and he scores! It's a sub-fest in the second half, but we hang on. Belgium gets one clear shot on goal but Rowe saves it, and we take it in Brussels, 1-0. Seven straight!

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A couple weeks after the Belgium win we get terrible, terrible news. Juan Ernesto Estrada, our best defender and team captain, goes down with a slipped disk playing for Vancouver, and is out for up to three months. That would keep him out of the World Cup. He's our best overall player. This is just a gut punch. We do have a quality backup in Jose Luis Franco, but man, what a bad break for the US.

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As we approach the World Cup, it's still up in the air whether Estrada will make it back from his injury. What a disappointment. I keep him on the preliminary 30-man roster, and cross my fingers.

Big, big news throughout Europe as the 2037-2038 season comes to a close. Three powerhouses concede their thrones.

First, Juventus has a miserable year and languishes between 7th and 10th throughout the Serie A campaign. They wind up finishing 8th with a weird record of 14-17-7. Inter wins the league.

In France, PSG fails to win the league for the second straight season. Olympique Lyonnaise wins it, with Monaco second and PSG third.

And in the biggest surprise, Bayern's 11-year hold over the Bundesliga ends. Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen tie with 80 points, and Dortmund takes it on goal differential, with Bayern third.

As for the Premier League, United claims its sixth straight title, besting Chelsea by five points and surprising Everton by six. Newcastle joins them in the top four, with Arsenal, City, and Tottenham in Europa League. West Ham finishes 10th at 12-14-12, perfectly average and right in the spot they were predicted to finish. Crystal Palace, Huddersfield, and Derby are relegated.

On May 23, I need to make my final 23-man squad announcement. Up next... the 2038 United States World Cup roster.

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2038 United States World Cup Roster - Defense

We've set our 23-man roster for Canada. With only matches with Poland and Ukraine in the ensuing nine days, let's look at what we've got.

In goal, it's 35-year-old USMNT veteran Danny Rowe. The Xolos Tijuana keeper will make his 100th appearance for the US in the Poland match, and he's started all seven of my games thus far. He's been solid, conceding six goals in our seen games, with two of those coming against Ivory Coast after we were up 3-0 and the subs were on. He's got three clean sheets. He's the best we've got, by far. He's backed up by another veteran, 33-year-old Juan Cortez, and a young 22-year-old, Juan Espinoza, but I expect Rowe to play 270 minutes, and then at least 90 more.

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The big news for the defense is that our right back and captain, Jesus Ernesto Estrada, makes the squad. He's going to be out 5-11 more days, and with the Germany match nine days away, he'll miss that one and then we'll see. But I need him on the team as even 80% of him is better than any other option we have to bring up. For now, Jose Luis Franco starts at right back, and Tyson Baily, who is not very good but is also our best option, starts on the left. 22-year-old Nate Solis, who looks like the future at left back, is the backup.

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We're actually pretty solid in central defense. 26-year-old Daniel Trujillo and 25-year-old Ewan Fontaine will start. They've been a good pairing for us during my time in charge. And this is the one position where I had to make some tough choices on backups, as we had five guys to fill two spots. I wound up going with a couple young players, 23-year-olds Josh Hunter and Craig Cantu. I'm feeling okay here, although against elite sides like the Germans, we're going to concede goals.

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The center of our three-man midfield is where I have the greatest concern. 31-year-old Elliott Clark starts here, and I would love to have a stronger player at this position, but I just don't. The majority of the club guys I've started at this position throughout my career have been better, and we need him to play out of his mind in the Cup. The backup is another oldster, 32-year-old Dan Stewart.

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Midfield is our weakest overall area on the field. Flanking Clark are Cody Frisch and Carlos Lopez, and frankly we need upgrades from both of them over the next couple years. But the guys we have behind them, Rafael Ramirez and James Dougherty, just aren't ready, although with the short rest time between games they may need to be. This group makes me very, very uncomfortable.

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Ty Pooley won the starting attacking midfielder position in the games leading up to the World Cup. I've been challenged by the media and my fellow coaches over this selection, but he's hot and I'm sticking with him. We had good options at this position, and a quality player, Joe Black, won the backup spot. But this spot is Pooley's.

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Edited by trman73

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And last, the forwards. Andrew Kronberg and Bob Hall have been an excellent pairing since I took over, and our backups, Alberto Arriola and Danilo Farinello Rosa, are also solid. We're going to need to put balls in the net, obviously, and I trust this group to do it.

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June 3, 2038 - International Friendly: United States vs. Poland

I'm half Polish as both my mother's parents came to the US from there, so I'm pleased to host these guys in this warmup. It would have made more sense to play this one in Chicago or even Boston, cities with large Polish populations, but here we are in Kansas City. My plan is to give the starters the majority of the time in this one, then basically give everyone a half in the final tune-up against Ukraine in a few days. And then we get on the place and head to Calgary.

In the first half we look like a team that's out there just to build up our fitness as we generate very few runs, and it's 0-0 at the break. But in the 78th, as the game looks headed toward a dull scoreless draw, our backup midfielder, Rafael Ramirez, scores on a pass from Ewan Fontaine, and we lead, 1-0. Poland puts up little attack in the final 12 minutes, and it's our eight consecutive win and our second straight 1-0 win against a quality European side.

Ninety more minutes until the World Cup.

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June 6, 2038 - International Friendly: United States vs. Ukraine

Now this one is for fitness. I want to win, but I also need 23 guys (okay, probably 21 - not the backup goalkeepers) ready to go and in match shape for the Germans in less than a week. Everyone basically gets a half of action today.

Similar to the Poland match, it's a lot of passing in the midfield area in the first half and we go to the break 0-0. And, like the Poland match, we strike in the second half. This time it's reserve forward Alberto Arriola in the 61st. Once again we score the lone goal of the match, and we get our third straight shutout and third straight 1-0 win.

It's on to Canada for the 2038 World Cup!!

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2038 World Cup Preview

Once again, here are your World Cup groups...

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I think we make it out of our group. I see us losing to the Germans in the opener while Ireland and Senegal draw. Then we beat Senegal while Germany knocks off Ireland, and in the final match we draw the Irish and Senegal falls to Germany. That makes it Germany 9, USA 4, Ireland 2, Senegal 1. I just have a good feeling that we can do this.

Then I think we lose to Group A winner England in the first knockout round. I just can't, no matter how optimistic I am, see us as one of the final eight teams left in this competition.

As for the overall competition, I'm going to predict that we see four European teams in the final four: Italy, Belgium, Germany and France. I'll take Italy to knock off Belgium, and the French to end Germany's quest for three straight World Cups in the semis. In the final, I'll take the French in a battle of the #1 and #2 teams in the world.

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June 12, 2038 - World Cup, Group B, Match 1 - Germany vs. United States

We're here in Calgary for our opener in the World Cup! We're facing the two-time defending champs from Germany, a team that is 12-1-1 over the course of the last two World Cups (the one loss was a 3-0 group stage loss to England four years ago). This team is also on an 11-match unbeaten streak, and they went 7-1-0 in an easy qualifying group to get here. There is talent all over the place here, and they play an attacking 4-2-3-1 formation that will be a huge test for our defense. They are led by attacking midfielder Harris Hadzibulic, a $77M valued player for Bayern, $71M midfielder Benjamin Klotz, also of Bayern, and $69M valued attacking right midfielder Jochen Konig. They have 11 players valued at $50 million or higher, and 21 of their 23 players are valued higher than our best player, Andrew Kronberg.

But hey, we've gone 9-0-0 since I took over this team. We're on a 282-minute shutout streak, and the win streak is the longest for the US in this save. Germany is way more talented than we are, but we're scrappy and we're ready. Juan Ernesto Estrada is not ready for this match, but he's resumed training, and might be out there against Senegal.

The host nation kicks off the competition by falling 2-0 to Uruguay, not a huge surprise. England also beats Serbia 2-0 on Day 1. We're the second match of Day 2, with Senegal beating Ireland 4-3 in a goal-fest that saw them score four times in the first half, then fend off a late charge by the Irish.

We're up!

Midway through the first half we're more than holding our own. Kronberg gets our best chance but it's saved in the 15th, and Konig fires one on Rowe in the 21st and he knocks it away. But after saving another good chance a couple minutes later, Germany breaks through in the 25th, scoring on a well-executed run to go up 1-0. We take that score to the break, but we're doing okay, and we're generating some chances. We've just got to get one through.

In the second half we continue to play well and get some chances, but can't score. In the 73rd Kronberg goes down with a foot injury, and he needs to come out. We never find the net, and fall 1-0 in our opener, although it's a good effort from our guys.

Unfortunately, we learn after the match that Andrew Kronberg, our best offensive player, will miss the remainder of the group stage with an ankle sprain.

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Not a huge number of upsets in the first set of matches, although Ghana beats Brazil, 3-1.

June 17, 2038 - World Cup, Group B, Match 2 - United States (0-0-1, 0 pts., 4th) vs. Senegal (1-0-0, 3 pts., 1st)

The Kronberg loss is a blow. The US never scored in its three matches in the last World Cup, and this loss means we may struggle to do so even against a Senegal team that conceded three to Ireland in its first match. I'm bringing Estrada into the starting lineup as Franco did not have a good game at right back against Germany (6.0 rating, worst on our team). He's not match fit, but Estrada is a leader and he's our best option. Alberto Arriola takes over for Kronberg at forward, and the rest of the team stays the same.

Germany defeats Ireland 2-0 in the first Group B match of the day, essentially punching their ticket to the knockout stages. So if we get a result here, we'll know that our final match will mean something. If we lose, we're out.

We're the better team through the first quarter of the match but again we're not scoring. Finally, in the 30th, we end our World Cup goal drought, as Ty Pooly finds Bob Hall for a shot that deflects off a Senegal defender and in! 1-0 USA!

In the 36th, Senegal makes a cross from the left side, and it finds forward Moussa N'Diaye, who scores to tie it. It's going to be a tense final 45 minutes as we go to the half tied 1-1. But some of that tension is eased a bit early in the half, as Alberto Arriola leads Ty Pooley with a pass and he fires it in in the 49th to give us the lead back at 2-1. Then in the 65th, a huge mistake by Senegal, as they make a careless pass backward in the defensive end that's picked off by Holt. He takes it in and scores easily, and it's a 3-1 lead! But in the 69th it's N'Diaye again, scoring on a  weak effort that should have been stopped by Rowe, and it's 3-2.

In the 78th, Rafael Ramirez, just on, gets a free kick from right outside the box, and he fires it in to put us back up two at 4-2. Man, Senegal can score, and they can concede. Good lord, in the 85th we make our own defensive mistake in our zone, giving it up to N'Diaye, and he scores his third of the match. We've got to hold on here, and we're doing so by a thread. Finally we put it away in the 89th, as Arriola scores to complete a great day as our replacement for Kronberg. We break out offensively in a huge way, and win, 5-3. The win puts us second in the group based on a +1 to -1 goal differential advantage over Senegal heading into the final matches.

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With each team playing two matches, there are a number of surprises. Perhaps the biggest is that Brazil has flamed out and will not advance to group stage after falling to Austria. Italy is in trouble after a pair of 0-0 draws with Spain and Iran, and they need to beat Ecuador to advance. Some teams are already into the knockout rounds, including England, Austria, Ghana, Holland, France, Argentina, Croatia, and a surprise team, Australia. Mexico, Nigeria, and Uruguay will have to fall apart to not make it.

June 22, 2038 - World Cup, Group B, Match 3 - Ireland (0-0-2, 0 pts., 4th) vs. United States (1-0-1, 3 pts., 2nd)

This isn't all that complicated. With a win our chances of advancing are great. Senegal would have to beat the Germans by multiple goals, which I just don't see happening. Ireland's not entirely out of it although they'll have to beat us by two goals and have Germany beat Senegal by multiple goals. The Germans just need a draw to clinch the group.

I'm taking a chance here and sticking with my starting lineup even though a number of guys are tired. I just think we're better than Ireland and can get a result with this group, then scoreboard watch the Germany-Senegal match.

Oh man, things get off to a horrific start for us as in the second minute, Ewan Fontaine is called for a penalty in the box. My old friend Michael Platt scores it for Ireland and we're down. But almost simultaneously, Germany scores on Senegal, and we're still in second place. We go to the half down 1-0, and right before the half in their match, Senegal ties Germany. We're in third place with 45 minutes to go in Group B.

With 30 minutes to go, we need a goal. I bring Rafael Ramirez in for some offense. In the 73rd minute, Ireland is called for a foul right outside the box. Ramirez takes the free kick, and he nails it! We're tied, 1-1, and we're back in second with 17 minutes to go! In the 80th minute of our game Germany takes a 2-1 lead over Senegal, and we've got to hang on for 10 more minutes. In the 89th we get another free kick, and this time it's Arriola who scores it!!!! 2-1 USA, and we're moments away!

We hang on in stoppage time and win, 2-1. Germany's 2-1 lead over Senegal holds, and the United States is on to the Knockout Stage of the World Cup!!!!

We'll play England, winners of Group A, in the First Knockout Round. But for now, we'll celebrate advancing for the first time in 20 years!

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Edited by trman73

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Wow, big surprises as we go from 32 down to 16 teams in this year's World Cup. Another major powerhouse joins Brazil on the shelf: Italy. They draw 2-2 with Ecuador in a match they needed to win, and they are out, finishing 0-3-0. Germany, Austria, and France are thee three teams to get through group stage with nine points. I still like France to win this thing.

Here's how the group stage played out, and what the Knockout Rounds will look like:

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If I was a betting man, without looking everything over, I'd say England, France (still my pick to win it), Germany, and Belgium in the semis, with France and Germany in the final.

But... there's only one way to find out.

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June 26, 2038 - World Cup Second Round: United States vs. England

We're playing with house money here as any further advancement would constitute a miraculous run. England breezed through Group A without giving up a goal. They beat Serbia 2-0 and Canada 3-0 to clinch their spot in this round, then drew with a quality Uruguay squad 0-0 to officially win the group. They are currently ranked 9th in the world and they have big talent all over. Every one of their players play domestically in the EPL. Their right midfielder, Ben Cameron, is one of the best players in the world. The 26-year-old from Man United is valued at $81 million. But he's hardly alone. Man City's young striker Adam Green is a $50 million player, and they've got just two players over the age of 30, so this looks like a team that could make noise in the coming years.

But they've lost in this round in each of the last three World Cups, and as always, there will be a ton of pressure on them. I want my guys to play without that pressure and just go out and enjoy football for the next 90 minutes, and give me everything they've got. Once again I am going with the same lineup, with World Cup super-sub Rafael Ramirez waiting to come off the bench. Only three teams - France, Austria, and Senegal - scored more than our seven goals in group play.

We're the first match of Round Two, and it's time to kick off.

We dominate the first 20 minutes of the match, but in the 26th, England gets a cross, and for the second straight match we get called for a penalty. Liam Cummings scores it, and we're down, 1-0. England takes control from there, and it takes a couple of excellent saves from Rowe to keep it at 1-0 at the half.

In the 55th Arriola goes down with a leg injury and we're down to two healthy forwards. I wait until the 69th and bring in Rafael Ramirez to see if he can make magic happen for us again. We're exhausted out there and still down 1-0 heading into the final 10 minutes, and I just need someone to make a play. We get a final chance in the last minute of stoppage time, but Bob Holt doesn't have the power behind his shot, it's saved, and England holds on for the 1-0 win that ends our World Cup run.

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Well, we're out of the World Cup, but the tournament continues.

  • Germany destroys Uruguay, 4-0, and looks like a team poised to win their third straight World Cup.
  • The surprising Austrians knockoff Ecuador, 2-1, on a penalty kick in the 66th.
  • Spain rolls Ghana, 3-0.
  • Holland beats France, 3-1, and both teams I had in the final are out before the quarters.
  • Belgium scores in the 70th to beat Nigeria, 1-0.
  • Our rivals from Mexico beat Croatia, 2-1.
  • And Australia's run ends with a 1-0 extra time loss to Argentina, who score in the 117th minutes.

So the quarterfinals look like this...

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A real chance for England here, and in the bottom half, the Germans are looking incredibly strong.

Edited by trman73

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In the quarters...

  • Germany beats Spain easily, 3-1.
  • England has a man sent off in the 57th minute of their match with Austria, but Liam Cummings scores in the 69th, and they hang on, 1-0.
  • Holland and Argentina go to extra time 0-0, then play 30 more scoreless minutes. The Dutch don't convert any of their PKs, and Argentina moves on.
  • And Mexico's run continues with a quality 2-0 win over Belgium.

So it's England against Argentina and the Mexicans facing the two-time defending champs. And in the semis...

  • Argentina scores two first half goals on England to go up 2-0 at halftime. England gets one in the 52nd, but that's it, and the English dream is over.
  • And the Germans score three times in the first 35 minutes and beat Mexico, 3-1, to advance to their third straight final.

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The World Cup Final is played on July 11th. In the third-place match the day before, it's England medaling for the first time since 1966 with a 2-0 win over Mexico.

And in the Final, the Germans strike first on Argentina in the 26th. They add another two minutes into the second half, and cap it with a third in the 78th. It's a 3-0 win, and Germany becomes the first team ever to win three consecutive World Cups.

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We've now got two months to ponder what went right and what went wrong in the World Cup before friendlies kick back up in September. We're named the "Biggest Surprise" team of the World Cup for reaching the second round and giving England all it could handle. (Italy is the selected as the biggest disappointment). Needless to say, the American Soccer Federation is happy with our run and my leadership.

Our performance in the World Cup moved us all the way up to 13th in the world rankings, so we've jumped 16 spots since I took over a year ago.

Danny Rowe, who was a key player for us in the Cup, announces his retirement from international soccer. The 35-year-old put in 105 performances in goal for the US. There are a number of other guys who are going to have to give way as well, as we need to get younger, faster, and more skilled. So we're likely to say goodbye to central midfielder Elliott Clark, goalkeeper Juan Cortez, forward Danilo Farinello Rosa, and midfielder Dan Stewart.

My goal for the remainder of the year is to bring at least five new players up to the club and get them game action. These will all be relatively low-pressure matches. We need to see what guys can do.

We play five of our six friendlies over the remainder of the year away from home. We start in Norway, then visit Barbados for a vacation/thrashing, visit Ecuador in October then host Uruguay, and finish with a trip way east in November to face the South Koreans and the Australians. That's a decent slate of matches (save for Barbados). Then we'll look to face some European teams in the spring fixtures.

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September 1, 2038 - International Friendly: Norway vs. United States

Our first match since the World Cup is against the 29th-ranked Norwegians. We're changing up the roster a bit, although the starters from the World Cup will also start this one.

We're a mess in this match and look totally uninspired, and frankly the prospect of nine straight friendlies before we play another meaningful match has me feeling uninspired as well. We dominate possession, but get just a handful of good shots off. Norway scores in the 53rd and again in the 71st, and we fall, 2-0.

September 7, 2038 - International Friendly: Barbados vs. United States

Things should go better against 106th-ranked Barbados. We start all of the players who didn't start in the Norway match, and we give 22-year-old Juan Espinoza his first start in goal for the national team.

It takes until late in the first half, but Alberto Arriola finally puts us up 1-0 in the 44th. I make no subs in this match, and we win, but just 1-0. Not exactly an inspiring pair of matches. Oh well.

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I'll just say it... I'm really missing club football. Fifteen months have gone by and I've played 13 matches. I'm not getting any younger here, people (about to turn the dreaded 65), and I'm scouring the job board. I may break the rule I set way back when I took the Italy job and double-dip, taking a club job if they will allow me to stay on with the US team (do they ask you that in interviews?).

But for now, another month off, and two more meaningless friendlies.
 

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October 8, 2038 - International Friendly - Ecuador vs. United States

We play our best match of the fall in this one against the 17th-ranked team in the world. Seventy seconds in Patrick Molina gets his first-ever US goal. Ten minutes later Kronberg gets one to make it 2-0, and we cap a great first half when defender Martin Altamarino also scores his first ever goal for his country on a corner kick from Kronberg. There are no goals in the second half, and we take it, 3-0.

October 12, 2038 - International Friendly - United States vs. Uruguay

We head home to Chicago to take on our second straight club that advanced to the knockout rounds of the World Cup. This time we give up a goal on a corner in the 34th. That's the only goal, and I lose for the first time on home soil.

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Heh, It was Senegal in your group, not Ghana. But no matter. Great job on a limited team. Goes to show the star ratings do not matter much and the tactics and utilisation of the players are far more important. 

Glad to see you continue on FM2017, so I can still follow someone. Keep up the good work and hope to see you take up club management soon! 

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As we prepare for our next set of friendlies, I actually get some exciting news - we're going to participate in next summer's Copa America! We were last in this tournament back in 2016, and have played in it just four times total. This will be a fantastic test for us, and I'm thrilled to participate. Colombia will host the tournament. It's our B Team that will be in it, and to be honest I'm not sure what that means. Can I just take my regular players and place them on the B Team? I truly don't know. But I do know that I'll manage these matches.

On October 25, the groups are drawn... Argentina, Brazil, and the hosts are the top seeds, and everyone else is thrown together.

We are drawn into Group A, with... Argentina, the fourth-ranked team in the world that just advanced to the World Cup Final.

Next up... Uruguay, the team that just beat us at home in a friendly.

And finally... Venezuela, the second-worst team in South America.

So... I'll figure out what to do here. There are no players currently on the B Team.

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