I thought about putting this in the new "Player Rankings" thread, then decided that conversation was fine the way it was. If you'd rather discuss lists of player ratings, you might be better served here: https://www.bigsoccer.com/threads/ussoccer97531’s-2019-player-rankings.2108027/ Anyway: I increasingly find myself wondering about players in terms of if/how they might help advance the MNT program, with the general notion being that a pool made up mainly of players at Level X probably needs to become a pool with more players at Level Y if the program is going to move from one level to another. It's not exactly rocket science, though it probably requires some shared definitions. For the sake of conversation, let's say useful definitions of MNT levels are something like: Can reasonably expect regular World Cup semifinals or better Can reasonably expect regular World Cup quarterfinals or better Can reasonably expect regular World Cup advancement or better Can reasonably expect World Cup qualification and frequent advancement Stuff we dare not discuss Most of you will probably agree that we are at 3 or 4, depending on your mood/eggnog consumption levels/time spent on Twitter. Then let's say useful definitions of player levels are something like: Among the world's elite (for this to be meaningful, this probably needs to be something like "top X00," whether generally or by position, but I don't really have a good idea about what that X should be) At the level of standout players on teams at or about the level of CL knockout stage At the level of standout players on teams in Big 5 leagues At the level of regular players/contributors on teams in Big 5 leagues At the level of standout players on teams just below the Big 5 league level Stuff we dare not discuss Most of you will probably agree that the bulk of the most meaningful part of our pool (let's say, roughly, the top 30) is at around 4 or 5, with some players at higher levels, and that it is reasonable to think that for the MNT to move up a level, we need more players at higher levels. How many and at what levels? I dunno. It might be discernible through study of other teams' pools, which of course I'm too lazy to do. Perhaps further complicating things is that there's a time element to this conversation. Just a few years ago, a savvy observer might reasonably have said, for example, that a 15-year-old Christian Pulisic had the potential to reach a certain level, but that he wasn't there at the time. Still, it seems reasonable when considering prospects to think about both what they might become eventually, and when. One example that seems useful: There's arguably a level of U.S. prospect, however rare, that might be expected to be part of the top 30 before the end of their U20 cycle, which seems like a reasonable shorthand for a player who could be expected to reach a high level over the course of his career. I think I'd better stop here -- and, I suppose, ask whether anybody thinks this is useful, or has applied thinking like this to how they think about our pool and prospects. List-type rankings accomplish one thing; this maybe does something else, and perhaps they complement each other.