Thought I'd just for the heck of it try to project who would've been part of the team rosters if the US had made all those World Cups during the Dark Ages. As a disclaimer, I KNOW what amounted to the USMNT during those forty years was nothing short of pathetic- at least on the organizational side. I also know there are a great many impossibilities as to the team ever having had a chance of reaching the World Cup- so many roads took a detour to a Mexican Torture Chamber, for instance- but this is all in the name of fun. As an additional note, the formations and players selected in these rosters are entirely speculation on my part. The site I drew my deductions from was able to provide the line-up the US put on the ptich for all their international games leading up to the end of 1989. However, they do not directly state which players played what positions, and as such am relying on the apparent pattern of GK-DF-MF-FW from right to left and just trying to figure out everything else from there. If I am wrong in any real detail, please inform me and I'll edit things accordingly. The 1986 United States World Cup Roster The Lineup: Starting Goalkeeper: Arnie Mausser, age 32- Buffalo Stallions, MISL(?) -A 'Veteran' of the '78 and '82 campaigns, Mausser is getting on in years, but has yet to face an usurper for his position. He is also described in some places as the fore-runner to modern GK contemporaries like Meola, Keller, Friedel, and Howard. Might very well still be the best part of the US Defense, which is really not as good as that sounds. His Club career extends from 1974, but has been characterized by frequent transfers, making him a 'Mercenary' of sorts. Starting Right-Back: Gregg Thompson, age 25- Minnesota Strikers, MISL -Thompson had briefly been with the Tampa Bay Rowdies during the last two years of NASL's existance. Also having two main eyars of experience with the National Team, Thompson has propelled himself past several other candidates to take this position. He offers relative stability on the edge. Starting Center-Back: Paul Caligiuri, age 22- San Diego Nomads, WSA -A recent graduate of the University of California- Los Angeles, Caligiuri has seized a position in the back line since late 1984, and has remained a permanent fixture. Caligiuri will be later known for getting the US into Italia '90 and being a focal part of two World Cup teams, either in the midfield or on the edge. But for now, he's at the center-defense and may well be the best potential defender of the bunch. Starting Center-Back: Dan Canter, age 24- Minnesota Strikers, MISL -At 6'1, Canter is expected to take on the strongest- or the biggest- forwards the opposition has on the pitch. A brief but volatile career in NASL- including being one of the Team America Players- is the backdrop of his main outdoor experience, and as a benefit he played in a sweeper role while at Penn State, making him a bit more versatile than most. Starting Center-Back: Mike Windischmann, age 20- Brooklynn Italians, NY Cosmopolitan League -Windischman's career can be described as unorthodox even by American standards, only spending one year in his club career in the MISL, which was the main American League even though it was indoors. Windischmann's main claim to fame would be anchoring the Defense during the '90 WC, which unforunately included being humiliated by Czechoslovakia in the first group game. But for now, he's playing sidekick to Canter. Starting Left-Back: Kevin Crow, age 24- San Diego Sockers, MISL -In a bid to bolster the US Defense by putting in a five-man line, Crow gets the nod at Left-Back despite an unconsistant represenation on the National Team, mainly due to his size and potential. It also doesn't hurt that his club team may very well be the class of the MISL and that he is a key part of it. Starting Right-Mid: Perry van der Beck, age 26- Dallas Sidekicks, MISL -A sudden decline in Club productivity isn't likely to keep the US from inserting van der Beck into the starting lineup as there are a real lack of alternatives present. Even with that in mind, van der Beck is one of a select handful of veterans with extensive experience outdoors. The long-time Tampa Bay Rowdie has been an infrequent fixture in the midfield for the US since the beginning of the 80's and finally offers a stable presence on the right edge. Starting Center-Mid: Rick Davis, age 27- St. Louis Steamers, MISL -Davis has been the Team Captain for the US since 1984, and at present the best creator in the Midfield despite being constantly played as a forward in Indoor Soccer. Davis is quite simply the best the team has to offer on the International scale, and in a gruesome twist of fate, leads the present bunch in all-time scoring with seven goals... none of them in the last two years. Starting Center-Mid: Angelo DiBernardo, age 30- Kansas City Comets, MISL -This represents DiBernardo's first trip to the World Cup, his successive injuries in '81 and '82 robbing him of not only the chance to go to Spain, but also a good deal of the athleticism that drew raves in '80. Nevertheless, he still remains a savvy player who is capable of venturing forward into attack. But it's clearly obvious this will be his last hurrah Internationally. Starting Left-Mid: Herman "Chico" Borja, age 26- Wichita Wings, NASL -He might actually be just a Forward, but Borja seems to play on the left side, which makes him the man to go to. Having an overall solid career at the NASL and MISL levels, Borja is in all fairness a capable player... but that means anything from average to replaceable in the World Cup. Starting Forward: Hugo Perez, age 22- San Diego Sockers, MISL -In an ideal world, Perez would be the main attacker in Central Midfield, pushing Rick Davis to Left-Mid and further stabilizing an already potentially good middle. However the dearth of capable American forwards has frequently forced Perez into a striker role, which admittedly his dribbling and ball-control benefits from as he's more of a creative attacker than distributor. On a further note, the strategy seems to be 'hiding' Perez up front and letting someone from the midfield step into his place- though the options are again limited here. The Bench: Goalkeepers Winston Dubose, age 31- Tampa Bay Rowdies, AISA (American Indoor Soccer Association) David Vanole, age 23- Los Angeles Heat, WSA -DuBose is a long-time backup to Mausser, but his availability might be in question. Even so, there aren't very many Goalkeepers on the radar. Vanole represents the best that the 'youth' has to offer, and seems no doubt prepared to take the mantle of top GK in the US, but it is not yet a reality. Between the two, DuBose might get the substiution mid-game, but Vanole probably would get the Emergency start if anything happened to Arnie. Defenders Paul Krumpe, age 23- Chicago Sting, MISL Jimmy Banks, age 21- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Eric Biefeld, age unknown- University of California- Los Angeles Erhardt Kapp, age 27- Los Angeles Lazers, MISL -For the most part, this is an extremely young group backing up the incumbents. Kapp is the lone exception, playing Wing Back on both sides during the qualifiers of '84 and '85, even scoring a goal. Krumpe also played wing back during '86 though could probably play central defense as well as defensive-mid. Banks is a pure defender despite his small size. Both Banks and Krumpe would be part of the World Cup roster in 1990. Biefeld represents depth in the defense. Midfielders Michael Fox, age 24- Wichita Wings, MISL John Kerr jr., age 21- Harrow Borrough (Isthmian League, England) John Stollmeyer, age 23- Cleveland Force, MISL Eric Eichmann, age 21- Clemson University -Again, a really young group, but at least two of them already have extensive experience at the National Level. Fox has been an infrequent starter in Central Midfield and will likely continue to play the role as the main substitute there. John Kerr jr. meanwhile has played either entirely at Forward despite being listed as a Midfielder, or he has extensive experience playing Left-Mid. Either way, his two goals make him one of the few players available that can potentially produce offense. Stollmeyer and Eichmann are both future participants in Italia '90 with Stollmeyer perhaps more of a Holding Mid and Eichmann listed for some reason as a Forward, maybe an attacking midfielder. Forwards Bruce Murray, age 20- Clemson University Mark Peterson, age 26- Team Unknown (Last with Tacoma Stars, MISL, for the 85-86 season. Would sign with Seattle Storm, WSA, in 1987) -In a field devoid of American Goal Scorers, this might be the fring hope. Murray brings College moxie and a subtle play to the fold, and while he is probably too young to shoulder a heavy scoring burden, he will likely be counted on as the first forward off the bench, if not immediately inserted into the starting lineup. Peterson meanwhile brings an extensive scoring pedigree at the Club level in years past, most notably with the Seattle Sounders of the NASL where he was their top scorer. If Peterson so much as keeps the form that made him a frequent starter during '84, he may still factor into the equation. The Formation: -As you can see above, the default formation is that of a 5-4-1, mainly for the following reason; the US Defense is not at an International Level. There's just no other way to explain it. Even with five guys it might very well set a record for futility. But with nothing at all to be done about that, the next concern is the placement of the US offense. Isolating Perez as a single striker sounds ludicrous and it probably is, but again there is a distinct lack of US Forwards coming in to fill that hole. -The absolute Best Case scenario is either Murray or Peterson or possibly both rounding into a competitive form. If one does it, then he can join Perez up front and turn it into a 5-3-2 with van der Beck, DiBernardo, and Davis in control of the midfield. If both get into form, then you can do a number of things. You can roll the dice with a 4-4-2 (and hope the defense holds) or stick to the 5-4-1/5-3-2 format, but both offer the following wrinkle; Perez moves back to the midfield and takes DiBernardo's spot, putting him in a super-sub role, or joins DiBernardo and pushes Davis to Left-Mid. Either way the Midfield is as potent as it has ever been. The Odds of Success: -Canada qualified in the lone CONCACAF spot for '86 because Mexico was the host. If the US takes Canada's spot, then they would be drawn into Group C with the Soviet Union, France, and Hungary. By comparison, Canada failed to score a point or even a single goal in Group Play. They also only allowed 5 goals to the likes of the Soviets and a Michael Palatini(or whatever his name is spelled)- led France. Even more important, all this is taking place in Mexico during the summer, where the high elevation and high temperature spell doom for most teams. -The only chance the US has of even sniffing out a draw and at least ONE point is if the Forwards that are available suddenly have their form AND the defense doesn't leak like a seive- y'know, the way they did against England in a 1985 friendly.