After a short break, Bob Gansler's mind will turn to 1994.
The day after the United States was eliminated from the 1990 World Cup, Gansler talked about where his team has been and where it's going. The countdown to 1994 already has started."This experience is going to be invaluable, not only for these individuals, but for the game," the U.S. coach said Wednesday.
His players had dreams of glory, which for them meant advancing to the second round. Instead, they went 0-3 and were outscored 8-2.
"You don't want to say it's inevitable, but in a way it was," Gansler said. He thought back 10 days, to the 5-1 loss to Czechoslovakia. The Americans held on for 20 minutes before the Czechoslovaks started pulling away.
"The confidence was lacking," Gansler said. "There was too much doubt that entered into our minds and, consequently, into our game. The first game was a hard lesson, but it was something we had to go through."
The high point of the World Cup for the Americans was a 1-0 loss to Italy in Olympic Stadium. The United States played its best and came close.
"We raised our emotional level," Gansler said. "We could not come back against Austria at the same emotional high pitch."
The final two games were one-goal losses, but the only offense came from counter-attacks. The Americans, despite many months of practice, did not have enough talent for an all-out attack.
"You have to find ways to win," Gansler said. "I'm very cognizant of the fact that everyone likes attractive soccer. But you also need success and you have to give players the feeling they can succeed. Yes, you want to play well. But you must also be successful. Otherwise, people will ignore you in droves."
The players really believed the stated objective of advancing to the second round. But it was too much, too fast.
"I felt we came pretty close to what could be expected," Gansler said. "I really felt we could get a point here and, if we got lucky, we could get two. We had to have a little more good fortune than we did."
But the fundamental weaknesses could not be overcome. The team was good enough only to come close.
He said part of the reason was the quickness of the game. Exposing the players to the World Cup level should make them think faster - and better - in the future.
"You've got to know what you can do," Gansler said, "and when the situation comes up, you have to make the prudent decision. There's no way to get that. You have to be there. It's the pressure of the whole situation. There's no way you can prepare for that."