Off The Deep End

I was having a discussion earlier about whether the current U.S. World Cup team needed Landon Donovan or would just find him useful. It was an interesting discussion that really requires one to define what one expects to get out of the World Cup among other things. It is not, however, a discussion I'm going to repeat here.

Along the way I noted that, while nobody was looking, the United States had actually started developing international level players in spades. At the World Cups in the 1990s, the United States took the only players we had that were capable of competing at that level. That's just not true anymore.

Looking at the teams in the Round of 16, I think the U.S. could assemble a second team of 23 players that - had they played in Group C or Group F - would've given Greece or Algeria a run for their money.

First of all, I decided to adopt Jurgen's distribution of 4 forwards, 8 midfielders, and 8 defenders. I quickly pulled up the USMNT stats for 2013 and 2014 and jotted down some names. I did not take a close look at the youth national teams, MLS stats, or the various Yanks Abroad trackers. This is not meant to be the best U.S. B Team you could put together. It is only a thought exercise.

Herc in Denver (photo: Andy Mead/YCJ)

Herc in Denver (photo: Andy Mead/YCJ)

F Terrence Boyd
F Landon Donovan
F Herculez Gomez
F Eddie Johnson
M Joe Corona
M Maurice Edu
M Benny Feilhaber
M Luis Gil
M Sacha Kljestan
M Brek Shea
M Jose Francisco Torres
M Danny Williams

No room for Jesus on this list. (Andy Mead/YCJ)

No room for Jesus on this list. (Andy Mead/YCJ)

D Tony Beltran
D Carlos Bocanegra
D Edgar Castillo
D Brad Evans
D Clarence Goodson
D Oguchi Onyewu
D Michael Orozco
D Michael Parkhurst
G Brad Friedel
G Bill Hamid
G Sean Johnson

Are there some soft spots? Sure. But combined with the team currently in Brazil, this list gets us to 46. And this list leaves out World Cup Qualifying heros and up and coming phenoms. I'm sure most of my readers could make some improvements (that's what the comments are for), but my objective is really just to point out where we are as a nation. The U.S. is still growing in the world's game. Our talent identification and youth preparation still have a lot of room for improvement. We really have only just begun to taste the fruits of MLS's commitment to youth development and USSF's DA leagues. We're already losing players who see their path to the World Cup being easier abroad (Steven Beitashour was part of the 23 that traveled the Estadio Azteca for the U.S. win in 2012).

Let all of this sink in. The U.S. player pool is only going to get deeper from here on in. As we begin to fully leverage our huge advantages in population, we will cement our position in the upper echelon of countries on the world's stage. It doesn't mean we will ever win the World Cup, but it does mean that our ability to count on being overlooked will disappear.

So who did I miss? Do I need to put together a third team?