When the motocross world extracted itself from the mud that swamped RedBud and the highly anticipated 2018 Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations, it left traces of that muck at every gas station, restaurant, hotel lobby, rental-car return, and airport terminal between Chicago and Cleveland. There was also a trail of tears leaking from the eyes of Team USA fans who came to Buchanan, Michigan, expecting to see Eli Tomac, Aaron Plessinger, and Justin Barcia conquer the motocross world one more. What we they instead was a mud-in-the-eye beatdown on their own soil. It was a fantastic and crowded event despite the weather, but Team USA was never really in it, despite the home-track advantage. What the hell happened?
We were beaten (for the fifth year in a row) by France, who didn’t have two of their best riders, Marvin Musquin and Romain Febvre. We were beaten by an Italian team with only one rider we’ve ever heard of (Antonio Cairoli). We were beaten by a Dutch team that only had two guys finish (and win) the three motos. We were beaten by an Australian team without Chad Reed or Dean Ferris. We were beaten by a British team with two guys—Max Anstie and Tommy Searle—who returned home after they couldn’t make it on the AMA circuit.
Our lineup included our current AMA 450 and 250 Pro Motocross Champions in Tomac and Plessinger, as well as a seasoned, revitalized Barcia. They didn’t reach the podium in any of the three motos. None of them crashed in the first turn; none of them broke down. Our high-water mark was Tomac’s fourth-place finish in the first MXGP/MX2 moto, where he was beaten by the youngest rider in the whole race, who was on a 250. In the second moto, five guys on 250s beat our Open rider, the 450-mounted Barcia.