Is it too late to boycott?
There are two ways the United States can go with the Wambach injury. The more likely scenario is, of course, that Abby was and is indispensable, and the resulting pratfall we're in for should pretty much do it for women's soccer for the time being. If I lived in Chicago, I'd be much more optimistic on how WPS builds off several years of national team disappointments, but Los Angeles is the WPS equivalent of Duke Nukem Forever, so when it comes to WPS, "I See a Darkness" sounds like "Don't Worry, Be Happy" in comparison.
There is a possibility, however, that Wambach simply made it too easy for the US. Work with me here. With Wambach at diminished capacity in the World Cup, Greg Ryan had a backup plan that basically boiled down to "Awe them with how cool our gold uniforms look." Hey, it got them a bronze medal. What a player like Wambach does is basically what a player like Wilt Chamberlain did for the 1960's Warriors - she's so dominating that she makes strategy sort of superfluous. After all, you can win just by serving it up and letting Abby destroy everything that moves, so really, what's the point of tactics, other than get within passing range of Abby in the six yard box? With Heather O'Reilly and Natasha Kai in place of Lilly and Abby, maybe Pia will come up with something a little more entertaining than Ryan did.
Look, it's not totally and utterly unprecedented for a team to lose its most dangerous player and still do well. Holland did just as well without Cruyff in 1978. Northern Ireland had perhaps their best year ever in 1982, when George Best was gone. France won it all in 1998 after dumping Eric Cantona, a move that, had it backfired, would have made Aime Jacquet a pariah.
Of course, the last thing I want to do is suggest that teams dump their best players without good reason...which brings us to the men's Olympic team.
Boy, do I hate those overage picks. Well, two of them. Okay, really, only one of them.
Michael Parkhurst - great. I love this guy, I want him to get many chances to earn a spot as a full international, even though this is just a half international team.
Brad Guzan - okay, the real opponent here isn't Argentina, but the British Labour Board. I think Guzan is a fantastic keeper, and I'm far from the only one who has thought this guy had potential even in the dark days of 2005. Still, the present, and the near future of 2010, belongs to Tim Howard. (Now, apparently clubs can tell federations to go pound sand when it comes to the Olympics, and while Everton wasn't nearly as vocal as Arsenal or Barcelona, Everton's probably happy about this.)
Brian McBride...okay, well, first, let me address Landon Donovan, the best American field player. As with Howard, he is the present and the near future...to say the freaking least. As with Howard, his club might have been sufficiently grumpy about the Olympics, or Donovan himself might have let it be known his motivations lay elsewhere. And, this gives the US program a chance to see what life looks like without Landon. We must, after all, prepare for the future. And dependency on one player, even one as great as Donovan, is dangerously unwise. If Kljestan or Edu or Adu or Bradley ever have to run the show for real, we'll all be happy to have had this experience.
But if that's the thinking, then why in the world bring in McBride?
We all love Brian McBride, each and every one of us. (Disagree and I will hunt you down.) He's the wrong pick. At least in 2006 he filled a need on the team - with Altidore and Rogers, even putting McBride on the field is a mistake. Is he just there for his sterling example and veteran experience? Well, how did that work for us in 2006? And it's not like he's going to have his final national team experience be any more pleasant than in Germany - not with this roster. Unless Donovan categorically took himself out of the picture - a move which as a loyal American I cheer wholeheartedly, because as a loyal American I support the Galaxy - then choosing McBride over Landon for this role is a colossal mistake.
And if he's genuinely still a part of the US national team pool, we're in deeper trouble than I thought. We'd literally be as well served to call in Schelotto, have him help Nowak teach the finer points of the sport to our midfield younglings, and play three games in China that will end up forfeits. That sort of cheating may cost us a World Cup spot, but if McBride is really and truly in the picture, as a legitimate option that we plan to use in qualifying, in the Confed Cup, and in the World Cup, we might be better off taking a cycle off to regroup.
Besides, they're not gonna throw us out. Right, Mexico? I mean, what are they gonna do, hold the World Cup in South Africa or something crazy like that?