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An American Journey Into the World of Football

A trip through my save as the manager of the US Men's National Team
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thealexham's avatar Group thealexham 2018-06-12 22:51
us 9 posts joined Jun 12, 2018
I have been playing FM since FM16 now, and the game has quickly grown as a very important part of my life. About 2,000 hours since I started the playing the game, my desire for more FM has led me to want to tell my story as a manager. Fairly new to this website, I'm thinking I might give it a go and try my luck at discussing my save as the USMNT manager. At this point in the save I am in the 2019 Gold Cup, so before advancing any further I will recap my time since the beginning of my reign.

As far as rules for the save go, I will not be playing matches again, nor will I take holidays to skip over matches. I have the in-game editor enabled, but it will not be used at any time. Every match and happening will be true to the game and nor fabricated.

For squad selection, I keep my national pool of players with potentials of 2.5 stars or higher. I will frequently scout players to keep the latest report of their ability and have the freshest national pool of the best talent the nation has to offer. When selecting a squad, I will clear the entire squad each time, picking an entirely new 23 players each time. Some players are good enough to appear in every squad simply based on ability, such as Pulisic and Bradley, so long as they are fit. However, with everyone else, I will select based on first-team form, making sure every player is at least 2.5 stars. Therefore, a player with 2 stars in good form with the first team will not be selected, while a player with 2.5 stars in good form with a U23 team or a second team will not be selected either.

Hopefully, at this point you, the reader, have some interest in following my journey. If so, I will next update on the time I have already spent with this save before I move on. Thank you for your time reading and happy managing!
thealexham's avatar Group thealexham 2018-06-13 01:32
us 9 posts joined Jun 12, 2018
Alright boys and girls, gather round for the first edition of my story, covering the first international break of my managerial career as manager of the USMNT.

In this break, we competed in World Cup Qualifying at home to Honduras and away to Panama. Already sitting with 6 points from 2 games before the save began, we sat in 2nd in the HEX standings.

GAME 1
vs. Honduras

In my first match as manager, I welcomed Honduras to Nissan Stadium in Nashville for what should be a win to begin my managerial career. I opted for a 4-2-3-1 Wide formation given the prowess of wingers Fabian Johnson and Christian Pulisic, and the overall balanced nature of the formation.

Lineup



The score ended with a final of 3-0 in our favor, with an own goal from Honduras, a penalty from Dempsey, and a goal from Fabian Johnson. Johnson ended up as the Man of the Match with an 8.6 rating, but the real star of the match was Clint Dempsey, breaking the USA goalscoring record, passing Landon Donovan with his 58th international goal.



Game 2
@Panama

Feeling good after my first win as a manager, I hopped on a plane to Panama with ultimate confidence in getting the job done. Obviously, our squad was superior to the little Central American team, and we had all the momentum in the world in our favor. I kept with the 4-2-3-1, thinking the game would be another breeze.

Lineup



With my first loss as a manager, I took the 1-0 defeat at the hands of a penalty from lucky Panama. Overall, the match proved quite uneventful, although the grit and determination of the Panamanians kept us out of the points for the day. Our entire attack played poorly, with Fabian Johnson picking up an injury and playing the exact opposite of his marvelous job the game before.



Overall, I was decently pleased with my first international break as a manager. Youngsters Keaton Parks and Weston Mckennie showed they had the ability and class to perform at the first team level internationally, and we still sat on 9 pts in the table, a solid second place behind Mexico. Up next, the June qualifiers at home against Trinidad and Tobago, and the hated Mexico.
This post was edited by thealexham (2018-06-13 02:52, 2 months ago)
thealexham's avatar Group thealexham 2018-06-13 02:51
us 9 posts joined Jun 12, 2018
Now it's time for the June qualifiers in for the World Cup. We start with a home game against Trinidad and Tobago, followed by another home match against the archrival Mexico, my first match against them.

In the squad selection, I called up some surprise suspects in the likes of right-back Keegan Rosenberry, goalkeeper Sean Johnson, and strikers Christian Ramirez and Jordan Morris. I opted for more MLS players as the European Season had yet to begin in the game, while the MLS season was in full swing.

Game 1
vs. Trinidad and Tobago

With no true attacking midfielder in the squad besides an unfit Clint Dempsey, I tried a 4-2-4 Wide formation for the match, opting for success through width this time on the pitch. Hosted outside Boston in Gillette Stadium, the weather looked perfect for a beautiful day of football, and I confidently prepared the team for the match ahead. However, unlike the last match where we were defeated to an inferior opponent, I had to stress a lack of complacency from the boys. There was no other acceptable option than all 3 points from the fixture.

Lineup



As planned, Trinidad received the thrashing we knew we could serve them, easily taking the game 4-1. Highlights from the match included a stellar performance from Jordan Morris, as he racked up 2 goals and an assist to capture the man of the match, and a first cap and debut goal for striker Christian Ramirez. Furthermore, Keegan Rosenberry proved his doubtful selection in the squad with an assist and 8.3 rating. Overall, a complete team win got our spirits up high before the ever so important Mexico match.



Game 2
vs. Mexico

Coming in riding the high of a solid victory in the last match, I faced my strongest opposition to date in the form Mexico. Strangely enough, the tie was located at Rentschler Field in Connecticut, a smaller venue, and city for such a massive match. With Dempsey fit again, I reverted back to the 4-2-3-1 Wide again, hoping for at least a draw.

Lineup



In the 6th minute, Dempsey put us ahead with s goal, sending shockwaves through the crowd as well as my heart, already putting us in a positive position nearly from the start. However, a 30th-minute head injury to Sacha Kljestan would cause me to rethink the lineup some. Replacing him with Dillon Powers, I also decided to spend the rest of my substitutions in an effort to replace the underperforming Fabian Johnson and Dom Dwyer and find some more strength in attack. What happened next may go down as the biggest stroke of tactical genius of my life, as Dwyer's replacement Jordan Morris scored just 2 minutes later in the 32nd. Furthermore, Johnson's replacement Chris Pontius put a third goal on the board in the 34th minute to take the American lead to 3-0. At this point, I opted to turn my mind to a slightly more conservative point, as keeping the lead was more important than putting on another goal. After Giovani dos Santos put one in the back of the net, our victory was essentially confirmed with a Mexican red card, sending super sub Jordan Morris to the spot for a penalty, which he calmly placed into the net for a 4th American goal. Morris won another Man of the Match, and I rode home high off the amazing victory I had just engineered.



Overall in this international period, the entire team performed about as well as possible, racking up all 6 points, pushing our total to 15, on the brink of already qualifying for the World Cup. Jordan Morris proved himself very well, amassing 4 goals, 1 assist, and an average match rating of 8.95 in 2 games. Keegan Rosenberry also played magnificently, netting an assist and an average match rating of 8.0. Next time, the team travels to Central America to face Costa Rica and Honduras with the possibility to qualify for Russia 2018.
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT 2018-06-13 15:28
gb 1268 posts 174 likes joined Apr 04, 2016
Great stuff in the two qualification games as it seems you'll be qualifying for the World Cup, unlike the US irl. I'll be reading!
thealexham's avatar Group thealexham 2018-06-13 16:22
us 9 posts joined Jun 12, 2018
Back in the September international window, we have two very challenging matches, traveling down to Central America against Costa Rica and Honduras. At this point, it would take a mere 3 points to secure World Cup qualification for Team USA, something Bruce Arena and the real-life squad could not do (I may still be a slight amount salty over the failed US qualification campaign).

Included in this squad are debutants Jordan Siebatcheu and Nick Deleon, each in good form for their clubs and deserving of their first international caps with the national team.

Game 1
@Costa Rica

This match promised to inevitably be one of the toughest in our qualification. Costa Rica, fresh off their 2014 World Cup run harbored some quality players, led by the Real Madrid keeper Keylor Navas. For this match I went with a counterattacking 4-2-4 Wide, hoping for our stars to produce some goals. Going into the game I thought that a draw was a reasonable result to hope for, even though the 3 points would be ideal.

Lineup



Throughout the match, our defense performed wonderfully, stopping every Costa Rican threat on goal, keeping the clean sheet through the match. In the end, we walked away with a 1-0 victory, despite some underperforming attacking work. Our lone goal came from a John Brooks header off a corner, giving him the Man of the Match with a 7.9 rating. However, we had our opportunity to make the score a lot bigger twice in the game when we missed two penalties. Both Bobby Wood and Christian Ramires were unsuccessful from the penalty spot, both netting ratings of under 6.0. However disappointing the performance was, we ended up with the win and the 3 points. This did push us through to qualify to the World Cup already, with 18 points in 7 matches. Alas, I consider myself a better manager than both Jurgen Klinsmann and Bruce Arena, as I led the Americans all the way to Russia.



Game 2
@Honduras

Despite the win against Costa Rica, our poor performance overall made me slightly skeptical of our chances at a win against Honduras. Having already qualified for Russia 2018, it was very plausible that complacency would root itself in the squad, which I hoped to avoid during the match. I kept with the same formation, hoping we could keep in the win column again.

Lineup



The end result of a 1-1 draw did not reflect the true nature of the match. Through and through, we played poorly yet again, despite getting the draw via a Honduras own goal. It was truly a lackluster match from our entire squad, never really threatening on goal for the whole 90 minutes. It seems as the satisfaction of World Cup qualification allowed for plenty of complacency to creep into the dressing room, as we truly should not have picked up any points in the game.



We really did not perform up to par in these two matches, as we had no true attacking force in either match. Defensively we showed moments of capability, but the 4 points from the 2 games was much more positive than the actual reflection of our performance. On a positive note, we did secure World Cup qualification, so the USMNT will be heading to Russia in the summer. Next time, we head to Mexico and host Panama to finish the qualification campaign.
thealexham's avatar Group thealexham 2018-06-13 17:32
us 9 posts joined Jun 12, 2018
Now we head into the final matches of WC qualification. Most notably we have a very important match against Mexico in the fortress that is the Estadio Azteca. This match will be the most difficult in the qualification campaign and should be an interesting, thrilling match despite the fact that both teams have already qualified for Russia. To cap off the HEX, we go back home to face a Panama team that we should be searching for revenge from given our defeat last time out against them.

Most notably in the squad selection, winger Luis Silva makes an appearance, hoping to notch his first international cap for the American team.

Game 1
@Mexico

Any trip to Estadio Azteca will be extremely difficult, but this time had an air of doubt around our chances in the match. Last time out against Mexico, our team handed Chicharito and company a 4-1 loss, and in this match, the opposition will more than definitely hold quite the amount of revenge in mind. Any result from this match would be ideal, although a competitive loss would be acceptable as well.

Lineup



This match ended about as expected. We were completely and thoroughly outclassed for all 90 minutes, and a hat trick from Hirving Lozano destroyed our chances of any result. Lozano snatched the Man of the Match and consistently glided past our back line, his class out for the world to see. Sadly, I was afraid a result like this was possible, and it was my worst defeat yet as a manager.



Game 2
vs. Panama

I wanted to finish our WC qualification on a high, as we could surely grab the win against a Panama team with nothing to play for. Fresh off the Mexico loss, I knew we had to bounce back with a win to keep spirits high. This match would be held at Soldier Field in Chicago, and the stadium should be filled with plenty of fan support to push us to victory. I went back to the 4-2-3-1 from the 4-2-4, opting for Clint Dempsey to play the attacking midfield role after being unfit for the Mexico match.

Lineup



We ended up with a very lopsided victory, and we walked away with a 5-0 victory. The highlight of the match was a hat trick from Jozy Altidore, picking up the Man of the Match along the way. Dempsey also picked up his 60th international goal, while Matt Besler scored with a rare goal from a center back. We performed about as well as possible, in sync as a unit for the 90 minutes.



In our World Cup qualifying campaign, we finished with 22 points, second in the table and plenty enough to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.



Up next, we have 2 November friendlies at home against South Korea and Ghana, both quality competition to test ourselves against before Russia 2018.
thealexham's avatar Group thealexham 2018-06-13 18:38
us 9 posts joined Jun 12, 2018
On we go to my first friendlies as USMNT manager as well as the last matches of the 2017 season. Here we face off against South Korea and Ghana, two evenly matched teams to compete against for some quality footballing action.

In the squad this time we welcome veteran striker Chris Wondolowski, as well as right back Kellyn Acosta and midfielder Wil Trapp, all fringe squad players getting the opportunity to cement a place in the team.

Game 1
vs. South Korea

For this match, we head to the home of FC Dallas in Toyota Stadium for the clash against a top Asian team. I wanted to experiment with some new players rotating into the team, so a result was less important than some players getting experience and offering them the opportunity to stake a claim in the squad. I went with the 4-2-4, opting to again use the ability of our wide players.

Lineup



We showed ourselves as a very capable group in this match, notching a 3-1 win over a fairly strong South Korean team. 3 players, in particular, showed off during the win, achieving top performances with their efforts. Kellyn Acosta collected an assist and Jozy Altidore picked up a goal and an assist, while Chris Wondolowski netted 2 goals to claim Man of the Match with an 8.6 match rating.



Game 2
vs. Ghana

In our next match, we played a rematch of our first 2014 World Cup game against Ghana. Hopefully this time we snatch the same result, as another win would finish the 2017 international season with a strong run of 3 straight wins. For this game, we traveled up to Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver, a high-altitude match to prepare for other fixtures at high elevations. I am keeping with the 4-2-4 Wide, as I believe the team has become comfortable with the formation, also playing well recently with it.

Lineup



Although the match proved very equal for its majority, we ended up stealing a 3-2 win through a late 89th-minute winner from winger Darlington Nagbe. We played well even though the true match reflection would have likely been a draw. Luckily, we were able to finish the year with the ever so important win. Our star performance was from midfielder Sacha Kljestan, as he notched 2 assists and a 7.6 match rating. However, Ghana striker David Accam picked up Man of the Match with his goal and 8.6 rating. Christian Ramirez and Matt Miazga also picked up goals for us, both performing well.



Next time, I will deliver a season review for 2017, with the Best Eleven reveal as well as the World Cup 2018 draw. 2017 proved to be a very successful season for the country and myself, as we developed many youth players, won some important matches, and ultimately qualified for the World Cup
thealexham's avatar Group thealexham 2018-06-13 19:46
us 9 posts joined Jun 12, 2018
This time, I won't be reviewing any matches but will rather be reviewing the season as a whole, recapping over the Best Eleven, World Cup draw, and previews for the 2018 season.

2017 Best Eleven





Our leading goalscorers on the year are Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris, each with 4 goals on the year. Altidore's best match was a hat trick against Panama, while Morris was in amazing form with 4 goals and an assist with his 2 game run against Trinidad and Mexico. Dempsey and Christian Ramirez both netted 3 goals on the year, with Dempsey breaking the all-time goalscoring record along the way. A surprise inclusion into the Best Eleven was right back Keegan Rosenberry, with his 2 solid performances against Trinidad and Mexico. Not included in the squad are arguably the best 2 players America has to offer, Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley, both with fairly average seasons on the international level.

World Cup Draw

For the 2018 World Cup in Russia, we were given an average draw, with every chance to make it out of the group if we performed to a high standard. Ultimately, we were grouped with Tunisia, Bosnia, and Brazil. Obviously, Brazil is the toughest competition in the group, but Tunisia and Bosnia are very winnable matches, so a Knockout Round appearance is well within reach.



Awards

The USA Player of the Year for 2017 goes to Darlington Nagbe, with 10 goals, 16 assists, and an average of 7.25 average rating for MLS club Atlanta United.



The MLS Golden Boot for 2017 goes to Will Bruin, a striker who netted 16 goals for the Seattle Sounders. Because of this form, he soon became considered for a spot in the national setup.



The MLS Cup was won by Toronto FC, winning 1-0 with an extra time goal over the Seattle Sounders in a rematch of the 2016 cup.



2018 Preview

In 2018, our main competition will be the World Cup, as all other matches will be friendlies either after or in preparation for Russia 2018. What a great year 2017 was for the US football team, and 2018 looks like it has the potential for a wonderful year as well. See you next year!
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT 2018-06-14 18:08
gb 1268 posts 174 likes joined Apr 04, 2016
A favourable World Cup draw, good luck in Russia mate!
thealexham's avatar Group thealexham 2018-06-15 04:09
us 9 posts joined Jun 12, 2018
Here we go back into the American preparation for the 2018 World Cup. In the March international break, I have scheduled a trip to Europe to face off against my first European competition as a manager. Our first game will be a trip to Sweden, while our second match will be a journey to Eastern Europe and Romania. Although not top European competition, these games will give us some experience in playing overseas, as well as providing for some hopefully winnable matches.

Into the squad this time are MLS Top Goalscorer Will Bruin, as well as youngster Josh Sargeant who is looking for his first international cap. Another notable inclusion is right winger Andrew Wooten, in good form for the German side Sandhausen.

Game 1
@ Sweden

This match has the potential to be a foundation for our season going forward. For stars Pulisic and Bradley, it is imperative that they counter their lackluster 2017 international form for something more positive in this match. Our squad definitely has the ability to compete and win this game. However, I am not so sure about our capacity to perform when needed away from the States. For the match, I've gone with 4-2-3-1 Wide, with Bobby Wood up top to lead the attack.

Lineup



Sadly, our season did not start the way we would have liked. In a fairly even match, Sweden have pulled away with the 2-1 victory with goals from Malmo striker Carlos Strandberg and star defender Victor Lindelof. All 3 goals in the match were scored in the first half, and the second provided no action for either team. In an overall average showing, we did not live up to the expectation of a result from the match.



Game 2
@Romania

Any Eastern European team at home is difficult to play against. The passionate crowds, stadium atmosphere, and culture of the region give the home team a huge advantage that will make life difficult for us. This match will really prepare us for a similar atmosphere in Russia later on in the summer. However, our focus rests solely on a more complete performance than last time out. Both Will Bruin and Josh Sargeant will likely make appearances, trying to find a spot in the World Cup squad possibly. For this fixture, I went back to a 4-2-4 Wide, as Dempsey was no longer fit in the attacking midfield position.

Lineup



Unfortunately, we again were not able to secure a result. Despite playing a relatively competent game, we were simply outclassed by striker Florin Andone. Andone's hat trick earned him Man of the Match, and the Romanians snuck away with a 3-2 victory. We improved our play from the Sweden match, and plenty of positives were eminent in the match. Debutant Josh Sargeant scored his first international goal in his first international appearance, while Chris Pontius scored his second international goal.



Our 2018 season did not start as planned or hoped. We lost both of 2 matches and could not defend to the standard required to compete at the international level. Some promise for the future exists in Josh Sargeant, but for now we have to buckle down and focus for the World Cup.

Up next, I will reveal the 23 man squad for Russia 2018, as well as going through the 3 friendlies before the tournament.
thealexham's avatar Group thealexham 2018-06-15 04:56
us 9 posts joined Jun 12, 2018
Here is the big reveal. Who will make the final 23 man roster for the 2018 World Cup? Who can make the greatest impact on the world's greatest stage for our great nation?
For the squad, I've gone with a mix of talent and form. Your main suspects are in, with some other fringe players selected on good form during the club season.

Squad

GK: Ethan Horvath
GK: Bill Hamid
GK: William Yarbrough
RB: DeAndre Yedlin
RB: Timothy Chandler
RB/CB: Johnathan Spector
CB: John Brooks
CB: Omar Gonzalez
LB/CB: Tim Ream
LB: Justin Morrow
LW/LM/LB: Fabian Johnson
CM: Michael Bradley
CM: Alfredo Morales
CM: Weston Mckennie
CM: Keaton Parks
CAM: Nguyen Lee
LW/RW: Darlington Nagbe
LW/RW: Christian Pulisic
RW: Paul Arriola
ST: Jordan Siebatcheu
ST: Bobby Wood
ST: Christian Ramirez
ST: Jozy Altidore

Overall, the squad has definite ability and skill. A Knockout Round berth should be expected of the team, and anything further than that will be a spectacular performance. Bradley, Brooks, and Pulisic will have to lead the squad for us to be successful in this tournament.

Now it is time for the pre-tournament friendlies, where we have scheduled home matches against Egypt, Australia, and Paraguay.

Game 1
vs. Egypt

Overall an average squad, Egypt quickly becomes a force to be reckoned with given the star Liverpool man Mo Salah. A trip back to Boston and Gillette Stadium reminds me of a year ago where we thrashed Trinidad in WC Qualifying. Hopefully, we would be able to provide a similar performance here. In this World Cup, I am choosing to stick with the 4-2-4 Wide, either attacking or counterattacking given the strength of our opponent.



In what turned out to be a boring match, we took the spoils 1-0 on a Tim Ream winner via a header. The goal earned him Man of the Match, and we did keep the clean sheet due to some strong defending. This performance is definitely one to build on going forward.

Game 2
vs. Australia

Going back to Nissan Stadium in Nashville, we face off against an Australia team without much firepower. The team has some quality players but no true star to depend on, so we should be able to come away with the win. I expect to bag a few goals as well, building on the poor attacking performance against Egypt.



And in typical inconsistent American footballing fashion, we deliver an even more boring match than the last one. A 0-0 draw provided no moments for the fans to be excited about, as neither team showed any desire to push forward toward goal. On a positive note, we did keep another clean sheet, 2 in a row now.

Game 3
vs. Paraguay

We send our beloved national team off to Russia with a match against Paraguay at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City. At this point, the celebration of the sendoff outweighs any performance on the field in my mind. With nearly equal squads, we go into the match with empty minds ready to put on a display for our country.



Sadly, our poor attacking form continues, as we fail to hit the back of the net again. We were unable to put forth many attacking moments together, and for the 5th match in a row way play at or below par. So far in 2018, we have only one win and one draw in 5 matches against equivalent opposition. For us to see success in Russia, we will have to improve offensively and keep the back line as solid has been.

Next time, we take on Tunisia, Brazil, and Bosnia in hopes of clinching a berth to the Knockout Stages of the 2018 World Cup.

You are reading "An American Journey Into the World of Football".

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