Olympic soccer breakdown in 3, 2, 1....

So who should the three overage players be?

The cynical way to approach this subject is also the most productive - use these matches as training for World Cup qualification. If anyone really cared who the best U-23 team in the world was, the Olympics wouldn't have begged for overage players in the first place. So instead of trying to fill the needs of the United States U-23 Men's National Team, we should put in the players who need the international experience. We also want to pick players who mesh with the U-23 players who are most likely to make the jump to the next level.

My picks:

1. Tim Howard. I want this guy in a US jersey as often as possible. I couldn't be higher on Brad Guzan's future, but Howard is almost certainly going to be the man this cycle. Frankly, he should have been the man the last cycle, so part of this is making up for lost time. We don't have a serious goalkeeper controversy in the offing, so I want to take advantage of that and let US players at every level know that Tim Howard is going to be behind them, and let them get used to it.
2. Landon Donovan. Similar reasons to Howard. So central to the US team that failing to use him here makes no sense. I realize no one in the world knows what position he plays, but that's more of a reason to work him into the mix of upcoming players, not less of one. Eventually Donovan and the US coaching staff will come to some sort of conclusion on this topic. If they can't, Ruud Gullit has an office just down the hall.
3. Look, I don't CARE if no one wants to read about my political ranting, there's no way we should legitimize a regime as repressive, repugnant and reprehensible as the one currently inflicting themselves on the Chinese people. Maybe it would be an empty gesture, but it's still a freaking gesture. No, I don't care that Ty Keough is still bummed out about 1980.

take two

1. Tim Howard
2. Landon Donovan
3. Okay, it's a bunch of crap that the players who actually qualified for the Olympics are going to be pushed aside for players who didn't. If those of you who reacted to my boycott call with "Why punish the athletes?", then yeah, WHY PUNISH THE ATHLETES? Howard and Donovan and Bert Patenaude or whoever had JACK MURTHA to do with qualifying, so why do they get the benefits? You can say the roster last week didn't look good at times... most of the time... but you can't say they weren't playing their tiny little hearts out. Enough of them are already going to be elbowed aside by the Cruel Bitch-Goddess of Fate, in the form of Michael Bradley or Danny Szetela or a blown ligament or a runaway peach truck. Why arbitrarily add to that number? Dance with the ones that brung ya! Take a stand, USSF!

take three

1. Tim Howard
2. Landon Donovan
3. Hey, you know what would be funny? Let's give Alexi Lalas his 100th cap! Wait, he's been to the Olympics already...and Olympic matches don't count for cap totals...god DAMN this topic....

take four

1. Tim Howard
2. Landon Donovan
3. We need to bring in somebody up top, like Jozy Altidore - oh. Well, that's a stroke of luck. I love the idea of getting Altidore time with the guy who he will partner with in World Cup qualifying...now, tell me who that will be. Yeah, right, Eddie Johnson. Putting Eddie Johnson on a roster is like putting a scorpion on a frog - you will regret it. Unless it's a stretch of games were Johnson is really good. But people say Donovan disappears at times - Johnson vanishes like D.B. Cooper. Hm, Brian Ching, though. Except I'm wary of guys who couldn't displace Brian McBride in the last cycle. Hey, why not Taylor Twellman, that would be even more hilarious than Ching. The more I look at our senior forwards, the more I feel bad for harshing on Charlie Davies and Chad Barrett. God, talking about our forwards is a depressing topic - you sure you wouldn't rather read about Tibet?

take five

1. Howard
2. Donovan
3. Jimmy Conrad, because again, we ought to give the lineup fixtures as much time as possible, and...what? Conrad's a starter. Look, Bocanegra and Onyewu together still scare the hell out of me. Conrad is more reliable. Why do we even have this argument? Out of those three, who had the best World Cup? Conrad. We want players in there who will have a good World Cup, right? It's not like these guys are young prospects, and since we know what they can bring to the table, why is the guy who has the best record sent to the bench in most mock lineups? What is this, a Presidential primary? WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA

take six

1. him
2. him
3. I have to agree with Max Bretos again - let's just see who's available at the roster deadline, and pick the guy who can help us win in the tournament. It's hard to get inflections across in writing, but basically I wrote that sentence in a tone of beaten, broken resignation that makes Steven Wright look like Ethel Merman. I hate the Olympics.