The fact is that MLS really stands for Minor League Soccer in the eyes of the world. The MLS level of play isn’t close to world class, yet they seem to believe that they belong in that discussion. Yet, on the pitch nothing has been proven. The US has failed to qualify for the World Cup (WC) for the first time since 1986, so clearly it is moving backwards in it’s “progression.”
On October 10, 2017, all the USMNT had to do was draw against Trinidad & Tobago’s “C” Team in their final WC qualifying match. Instead, they lost 2-1 on an own goal, and failed to qualify for Russia 2018, as Panama will go instead. That was a watershed moment for US soccer. 
Now the US media propaganda against WC 2018 in Russia begins, which smacks of sour grapes. For all the money the US puts into youth & MLS soccer ($1B+/year), the results are an embarrassment, and no amount politicking can cover that up. As Claudio Reyna said after that elimination loss, “We’re far too arrogant.” 
Let’s evaluate what has happened to the US Men’s National Team since 1986, which was the last time it failed to qualify. The 1986 World Cup was held in Mexico, and was won by Argentina on Diego Maradona’s infamous “Hand of God” goal.
In 1990, the WC was held in Italy, and the US qualified as one of two CONCACAF teams, with Costa Rica the other. Teams qualify by geographical region. The CONCACAF region is North America, Central America and Caribbean; giving the United States a huge competitive advantage in qualifying, as most of these nations are third-world countries which have been devastated by US imperialism.
In Italy 1990, the USMNT went 0-3 in group play, and finished 23rd out of the 24 teams in the tournament. The USMNT goal differential (GD) was -6, and only the United Arab Emirates finished worse (-9 GD).
In 1994, the US hosted the World Cup for the first time. That was a big deal. The host country automatically qualifies, and this was to be the launching pad for a future professional league (and springboard for youth soccer in North America), as the MLS was actually founded on December 17, 1993, and began play in 1996.
The USMNT did well in their 1994 tournament, surprisingly making it out of their group and into the Round of 16. This was the best result the USMNT could have hoped for, as they were eliminated by eventual champion Brazil in the first game of the knockout round, 1-0.
But their success was a chimera, as their advance out of group play was aided by a surprise 3-1 victory over then-world soccer power Colombia. The Colombian national team had some of the best football players in the world, but their country was also being ravaged by George H.W. Bush’s “Plan Colombia,” (now directed by Bill Clinton), a US military and covert war against the country in the name of the “War on Drugs.”
Colombian National Team players were threatened by drug lords and other criminal types. Perhaps the ugliest incident in the history of the World Cup came as a result of this Colombian loss, when defender Andrés Escobar scored an own goal, putting the game out of reach. Nicknamed “The Gentleman,” he was well-known for his clean style of play and calmness on the pitch.
On the evening of July 1, 1994, five days after the elimination of Colombia from the World Cup, Andrés Escobar went to a bar in the El Poblado neighborhood in Medellín. At 3:00 AM, when Escobar was alone in a parking lot in his car, three men approached and began arguing with him. Two of the men took out handguns and Escobar was shot six times. It was reported that the killer shouted “¡Goal!” after every shot. Escobar was rushed to the hospital where he died 45 minutes later. Those are the sordid facts surrounding the USMNT founding success at the World Cup in 1994.
World Cup 1998 was held in France. Zinedine Zidane & the French national team owned the tournament, embarrassing Brazil 3-0 in the final. The US was in Group F that tournament, with powerhouses Germany and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia– who survived and advanced. The United States exited the World Cup suffering a devastating defeat against Iran. The USMNT in WC 1998 went 0-3, with a GD of -4, as they finished last among the 24 teams that qualified.
The 2002 FIFA World Cup was held in South Korea & Japan, the first to be held in Asia. This was the last World Cup to use the golden goal rule. Brazil won the tournament for a record fifth time, winning the final against Germany 2–0.
Group D was South Korea, Poland, United States and Portugal. The US shocked world-power Portugal in it’s opener, and made in into the knockout round, with co-host South Korea. The USMNT then defeated Mexico (2-0) in the Round of 16, before losing to eventual runners-up Germany 1-0, in the Round of 8. This would be the USMNT high-water mark in international competition.
The 2006 FIFA World Cup was held in Germany. The US was in Group E: with Italy, Ghana, the Czech Republic. The US finished 0-2-1 in group play, with a draw against Italy, and didn’t make it into the knockout round. Only Costa Rica, Serbia & Montenegro, Japan, Togo, and Saudi Arabia finished with less points and a worse goal differential.
The 2006 tournament marked a qualitative degeneration of the sport, as players received a record-breaking 345 yellow cards and 28 red cards. The low point came in the the Italy-France finale, when all-world midfielder Zinedine Zidane head-butted an opponent, after being repeated baited, and was subsequently ejected from the match. Italy won in penalty kicks.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup took place in South Africa. In a bidding process that was open only to African nations, FIFA selected South Africa over Egypt and Morocco to become the first African nation to host the World Cup. The 2015 FIFA corruption case reported that high-ranking officials from the South African bid committee had secured the right to host the World Cup by paying US $10 million in bribes to then-FIFA Vice President Jack Warner and to other FIFA Executive Committee members.
In June 2015, FIFA executive Chuck Blazer, having co-operated with the FBI and the Swiss authorities, confirmed that he and the other members of FIFA’s executive committee were bribed. Blazer stated, “I and others on the FIFA executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup.” In June 2015, The Daily Telegraph reported that Morocco had actually won the vote, but South Africa was awarded the tournament instead.
On the field in WC 2010, Group C was: England, United States, Algeria, and Slovenia. The United States and England finished tied at the top of the group with five points each, in this lackluster pool. Their goal differences were also level at +1, but the United States won the group having scored more goals than England in their three games. As group winners, the United States advanced to face Group D runners-up, Ghana, and were immediately bounced out 2-1, in the round of 16. Spain would win the tournament for their 1st World Cup title.
2014 FIFA World Cup was held in Brazil, with Germany winning its 4th title. It was a huge disappointment for Brazil, who was expected to win on their home field. Group G was the “Group of Death” this time around, as it included Germany & Portugal, with the US and Ghana rounding it out.
The USMNT surprisingly beat Ghana in their opener, then played to a draw against Portugal, and advanced to the round of 16 based on Goal Differential, with Portugal being eliminated. Brilliant goalkeeping by Tim Howard kept things close against Belgium in the knockout stage, but the US lost in extra time 2-1.
Results: Without going into details concerning specific players, coaches and events that have transpired over the past 25 years or so in US soccer, a few general statements can be made with surety. Soccer in the US really hasn’t progressed much, since it hosted the World Cup in 1994. The coaching at all levels is still poor quality, and is marred by egos & monied interests.
Young talent isn’t recognized & nurtured, while billions of dollars are spent promoting garbage. There are no impact playmakers on the US Men’s National Team, and there never has been. The only position the US consistently excels at is goalie (Kasey Keller & Tim Howard).
The US players simply aren’t that skilled. They may get paid to play MLS, but many perform (& behave) like bush-leaguers. This isn’t because of lack of talent, it’s due to lack of organization. The Men’s National team is a coaching carousel, which continues to recycle the same losers.
This filters all the way down to the youth levels, which has become Pay to Play. Basically, disadvantaged kids with talent are being priced out of competitive youth soccer. “Without a doubt, soccer has become a rich kid’s sport,” said longtime coach Shane Kennedy of Mill Valley, CA. 
When you can’t win, you are left with talking trash. That’s what all this money has added up to, in youth & professional soccer in the United States. America will be outside looking in this summer, as Russia hosts World Cup 2018, while the US Men’s National team continues to play Minor League Soccer.
For players there are half a dozen or so who should stay, with everyone else finished for the US National Team. The entire coaching staff and player development hierarchy needs to be cleaned out, and re-conceived before being re-staffed. The current model doesn’t work, and American soccer need fresh ideas & leadership with a global perspective. This goes all the way down to the youth level.
The problem is that most of the US professional players are spoiled whiners, who never step up to accept accountability for themselves or others. Basically no leadership. It’s just a hot mess. That’s why there’s no team identity, no recognizable US-style. All this is why the results in US soccer have never significantly improved.