Why I think there won't be overage players in Athens

Discussion in 'Youth National Teams' started by Sandon Mibut, Oct 9, 2003.

  1. Sandon Mibut

    Sandon Mibut Member+

    Feb 13, 2001
    First, some disclosure: I've followed this U23 team closely and hate to see one of kids get cut to make room for an overage plauyer, even though I know it will make the team better.

    My wishes aside, I've always figured it would, and should, happen as there are some holes on this team and doing well in the Olympics will be HUGE for soccer in this country so if it means taking an overage player in place of a Jordan Stone or Kelly Gray or Ricky Lewis, so be it.

    That said, I don't think the Olympics are more important than the World Cup and to get to the World Cup, you gotta qualify and the qualifiers are also more important than the Olympics.

    Which is where my theory comes in.

    The Olympics are scheduled for August 13-29 of next year.

    Last week, CONCACAF announced the schedule for World Cup qualifying. The first qualifying match of the second round, or, semifinal phase, is scheduled for August 18. That's right, right smack dab in the middle of the Olympics.

    So, any overage player picked for the Olympics wouldn't be available to Bruce Arena for the national team.

    Now, Bruce is already gonna be shorthanded as several U23 players are part of the full national team pool. And, I can't see Arena, when he's already short Donovan, Beasley, Convey, Martino and Buddle (and any other U23 players who have broken through the next 10 months) agreeing to let three more of his players go.

    Now, theoretically the overage slots could be used on players who are better than their counterparts on the U23 team but NOT yet part of the Olympic pool (Todd Dunivant comes to mind), but there aren't very many of those and I don't think the chemistry of the U23 team should be disrupted unless the player actually makes the team better.

    And, I like to think that if you're good enough to be an overage player for the Olympics, one of the things you'll bring to the table is experience with the senior team. And if you have that, then odds are you're gonna be with the senior team for this first qualifier.

    So, this is why I don't see the US taking any overage players to Athens. (Assuming we qualify!)
  2. TheSlipperyOne

    TheSlipperyOne Member+

    Feb 29, 2000
    Arsenal FC
    Don't you mean World Cup Qualifying is schedule for August 18th?
  3. ChrisE

    ChrisE Member

    Jul 1, 2002
    Nat'l Team:
    American Samoa
    Sandon, what about an overage keeper? I think that's pretty clearly where we would see one of the biggest improvements by bringing in an overage player, and it's also where our talent pool is the deepest.

    Seeing as you don't, unlike some posters, seem to have any qualms about how legitimate it is to bring overage players, this would seem like an excellent option. Having Kevin Hartman or Jonny Walker in goal over D.J. Countess would, at least right now, be a huge improvement, and could definitely mean the difference in a game or two.
  4. Kevin in Louisiana

    Kevin in Louisiana New Member

    Feb 7, 2003
    Metairie, LA
    It's only the semifinal round. If it were the Hex, it would be one thing. But I think we can survive against whoever we'll have to play in the semifinal round.

    I think we should field the strongest Olympic team possible. There are five WC qualifying matches that won't conflict with the Olympics. A good deal of the American public probably thinks that the Olympics are just as important or more important than the World Cup. This isn't an opinion shared by many people in the world. We have a legitimate shot at winning the Olympics if we put forth the best team possible. I wouldn't want to see us take one of the EPL keepers away from their teams, but anyone else should be fair game.
  5. appoo

    appoo Member+

    Jul 30, 2001
    How short our memories are. We were about 45 minutes away ferom being bounced from Qualifying in the Semi-Finals until we hit Barbados for 3 goals in the Final match of the Semi-Finals.

    Consider. 3 Groups of 4, 6 teams advance. 3 Seeds (USA, Mexico, Costa Rica). That means we could be matched up against Jamaica and Guatemala in our group. I don't know about you, but I don't know how confident I'd be about our chances of winnging in Jamaica or Guatemala with a squad minus Donovan, Beasley, and Convey. Thats 3 starters from a team that was never very deep to begin with. How probable is it that either JOB or Reyna wouldn't be availible due to injury? Or even both of them? If that happened we'de be fielding a starting line-up of something liek this

    Dolo, Boca, Pope, Hejduk

    Our midfield would get flattened, we'd go no offense from the LB, and McBride could be left all alone depending on Mathis.

    MLSNHTOWN Member+

    Oct 27, 1999
    Houston, TX
    For what its worth, we almost did not survive the last semifinal round (if I recall correctly). No game in it should be taken lightly.

    That being said, I agree with Sandon, getting an overage player of quality will be difficult. In fact, the question needs to be asked, does Bruce Arena allow Landon Donovan or DMB or Convey go and play in the Olympics.

    I would think that he has first dibs on players and as a result, he would say they need to be able to play for the semis.

    August 18 is near the start of the Euro season as well, so there will be the typical resentment amongts the Euro coaches with regards to calling our players out of training/camp/the start of the season.

    That all being said, regardless of the U-23 players decisions Bruce has with Donovan or beasley for instance, I can see marginal USMNT players making the pool in need positions.

    I don't know the need positions, but if it is goal keeper, given Johnnie Walker a shot or Kevin Hartman is a very very good decision.

    If it is defense, giving Dunviant, Steve Jolley or the big arse guy from Chicago a shot wouldn't be bad.

    If it is midfield, a Chris Klein, Ben Olsen, whomever

    Forward should be fine from my understanding.

    I don't know where the weakness of the team is but the above players aren't USMNT pool players right now. So, in theory they could be used. If I am the coach of the Olympic team, I probably use my three spots on those types of players. If they are only marginal upgrades over some of the players that I have starting right now, I would consider keeping them off. But to be quite frank, I recall in previous posts you said there were a couple of wholes on the U-23's (one at right mid, I believe) and that GK is somewhat suspect. So seeing a Klien and Hartman get called in, is what I expect.

    Martino/Buddle I think won't be needed by Bruce, so they should be fine (obvioulsy a lot changes between now and then)
  7. Sandon Mibut

    Sandon Mibut Member+

    Feb 13, 2001
    Certainly it will be quite interesting to see if Bruce allows the U23 players to go to the Olympics instead of playing in one qualifier.

    Quite frankly, given all the hype the Olympics generate in this country, I'll be surprised if Bruce pulls out Landon, DMB, etc...

    The reality is that this team has a good chance to medal AND that the Fed has put a lot of money and hope into this generation, which, along with the 81s, represent the first two Bradenton classes (minus the 85s).

    As for weaknesses on the U23 team, I have NEVER said that GK is a weakness. DJ Countess is a very good GK and very experienced for his age, moreso than any other GK since Meola. And, with Warren, Baumstark, Cronin, Yelldell, Saunders and Spiteri, there are plenty of players there to serve as a backup.

    A year ago, I would have said D-mid was a weakness but that was before Ricardo Clark started every game in MLS, Kyle Beckerman effectively converted to D-mid and became a regular starter, Logan and Pause and Jordan Stone got consistent starts in MLS and Jesus Ochoa and Tim Regan got good minutes in the league.

    Will an overage D-mid that Bruce is willing to spare, be better than Clark? I don't think so. And, Beckerman is a solid backup (who can also be a backup A-mid and that versatility will put him on the team).

    Right mid is a weakness is the sense that no one who is natural right mid is playing there in MLS or in Europe. But...

    Beasley, Convey and Donovan have all played RM for Bruce. If they can play it for the senior team, I think they can fill in at the Olympics. And, you've got Clark, Eddie Johnson, Brad Davis, Santino Quaranta and Justin Mapp who have played RM in MLS.

    My guess, as I've said before, is that Beasley and Convey will flipflop at the wide mids with Mapp, who can play either wing, backing them up.

    With these three, I don't see a need for an overage RM, especially since that is also a position of less depth at the senior team and Bruce will need them.

    That leaves the backs.

    Oguchi Onyewu is a lock, either at right back or in the middle. Nat Borchers and Kelly Gray can play in the middle and Gray can also play wide. Alex Yi has gotten enough minutes in Belgium that he's still a candidate to play in the middle, as has Nelson Akwari. And, if he can come back 100 percent from injury, Jose Burciaga is a real candidate, too. And, you've still got Zak Whitbread, who could be with the Liverpool first team by then, and Frank Simek in England.

    Whitbread can also play left back as can Ricky Lewis, who has gotten decent minutes in MLS this year and can play either wing back. And, Phil Salyer has played some as well. If they get playing time from the start of the season as rookies, Chris Wingert and CJ Klaas could push for spots here as well.

    I think there will be enough central defenders that the US won't need to use one there. So, the question comes down to the wing backs.

    That's where I could see overage slots being used, but, again, who at that position would Bruce want to spare who would be better than the 23s? The answers I always come up with are always Todd Dunivant and, to a lesser degree, Chris Gbandi but neither of them has ANY international experience and unless either gets callups with the senior team next winter or spring, that isn't going to change.

    Do you want someone making his international debut at the Olympics?

    If Dunivant gets some minutes with the senior team in the MLS offseason - and he certainly should - than I think he should be considered for Athens. But, if he does really well with Bruce's team, he may be the guy Bruce wants to use in qualifying, thus making him unavailable for Athens.

    Basically, I see left back as the only place where an overage player gets used and that's iffy.
  8. GersMan

    GersMan Member

    May 11, 2000
    Very interesting discussion. Myernick has always said he will take overage players, but that was before this schedule conflict became known - good work in noticing it Sandon.

    One absolute:

    1. Arena will NOT field any kind of diluted team for any qualifier. There is no room for anything else. In his mind, the full team is the only one that really matters, and that's as it should be. If that means no Landon and no DaMarcus, so be it. IF anything, the semifinal phase, with six matches, places a bigger premium on each match, even if some of the opposition is a bit weaker (than those in the hex phase).

    If most Americans think the Olympics are as important as the World Cup, or even close, they are just wrong. Consider it an opportunity to educate the growing (hopefully) American soccer public.

    Some of the answer has to revolve around when the actual Olympic matches are played. If one of those two or an overage players can get over for the brunt of the group stage and the knockout rounds, they might just leave them on the squad and have them travel after the match.

    Saying that, I really do not see a John O'Brien leaving Ajax for two additional weeks to play in the Olympics. Same with Claudio Reyna, and not Carlos Bocanegra if he's in Europe by then. So those things would support the idea of no overage players, at least in Sandon's version of events.

    ChrisE makes a good point that an overage keeper could be spared. I don't think Arena would insist on a 3rd choice being there for the qualifier, question there is - would Spurs, Blackburn or Man United allow their starting keeper to be gone for two weeks for the Olympics (that England/UK does not play in)? I'm guessing none of the keepers would do it. But yes, you could see a Kevin Hartman or Joe Cannon going over (the question there is, is it more valuable to use a Countess, Doug Warren or Steve Cronin).

    As to the overage non/national option. I suppose you could find some players who won't be in the pool for that particular match who might be a benefit to the squad.

    Who wants to start the Rusty Pierce for Athens petition? :)

    I'll let others speculate on the best choices for the U23 team inlight of this, but I will step up to challenge one assertion of Sandon's, Zak Whitbread ain't going to be there. If he's on the first team by then (possible), you think he's more likely to be released for that event? We just need to let that one go. Just breathe in and let it go : -)

    (and if Dunivant isn't with the full nats, why not bring him in).
  9. bigtoga

    bigtoga Member

    Sep 16, 2000
    Dallas, Texas
    Is it possible that we'll have a strong keeper battle as we did for WC 2002? If so, would Bruce have one keep play in the Olympics (Howard) to get playing time while Friedel/Keller keep for the USMNT?
  10. Shaster

    Shaster Member+

    Apr 13, 1999
    El Cerrito, CA, USA
    For the semi final round, depends who we have to play in that game. If we have to play against Honduras, Guatemala, or Jamaica, then get your best team. If we play against other less teams, then get your best MLS team and leave the European guys alone if their club schedule conflict. In this sense, let's at least give Arena Donovan ,Beasley and Convey.

    The goalkeepers--we don't need overage players here. Countess with anyone as backup is good enough.

    The defenders--No overages. Looks like Yi, Borcher, Gray, Onyewu are not ready for Nat duty yet with Pope, Boca, Cherundolo, and Gibbs are good enough to cover for the NAT. If someone has to go to the NAT, we still have all U-20s to play for Olymipic team with Marshall, Cochrane, Whitbread, Simak, and Spector to draw from.

    The midfielders--We have Beckman, Clark, Stone for the d-mid, and if Martino cannot go, we can put Gavin (who is taking Mathis spot in Metro now) and Adu at the attack mid spot. For the wing midfielders, Mapp, Davis, Alveraz, Quarenta would be good enough.

    The forwards--Buddle or Casey can go if we don't have need for one of them in NAT. Others such as Esky, Testo, E. Johnson, Copper, and Karb. can pick up the spots.
  11. ThreeApples

    ThreeApples Member+

    Jul 28, 1999
    Smurf Village
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    What are the chances of the 2 qualifying countries convincing CONCACAF to reschedule their Aug. 18 WCQs to a different day?

    This might not be an issue for the USA. The Olympic qualifying format makes qualification very loseable for our guys.
  12. nancyb

    nancyb Member

    Jun 30, 2000
    Falls Church, VA
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Sounds like an excellent week for an MLS break. If it's an All Star break, it'll be a game sans US and CONCACAF all stars.
  13. asdf

    asdf New Member

    Mar 1, 1999
    They could also bring in a willy old Nat vet like Agoos to the Olympics who too old to play for the Nats but still good enough and experienced/savvy to help the U23's.

    The bigger question is what to do with Donovan and Beasley. The Nats can live for a game without Convey and Martino or whoever but Donovan and Beasley are two of our handful of best players, cinch starters for any qualifier. This is a tough decision for the US soccer federation, what is more important, promoting the cause of American soccer or insuring your trip to the World Cup?
  14. Woodrow

    Woodrow Member+

    Dec 7, 2001
    Brick City
    New York Red Bulls
    Sandon, you bring up an interesting point about fringe players; but I would disagree with your assertion and say yes, under some circumstances you would bring in a newbie.

    A couple of factors:
    1) Good enough for future consideration for the Nats (and that is after all the point of the "other" national teams)
    2) Fills a need on the Olympic team

    I would not have been able to think of anyone off hand; but Chris Gbandi could very well be that type of player.

    Another consideration might be filling in for a Landon Donovan should he be held out. Perhaps someone like Brian Ching or Pat Noonan.
  15. onefineesq

    onefineesq Member+

    Sep 16, 2003
    Laurel, MD
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Well, even that shouldn't be a problem though, because the EPL doesn't start until around the time that the Olympics end, right? Correct me i'm wrong there, because i very well might be.
  16. old boy

    old boy New Member

    Jul 8, 2003
    I think the kinds of overage players that may be part of the Olympic team are guys that are either on their way out of the USMNT team picture in the summer of 2004 or experienced guys trying to fight their way back in, but still very active, especially in MLS. Someone like Stewart or Meola would provide leadership, but may only be a slight upgrade at their position, if that. I could see them picking Armas or Hejduk. Look at who they picked last time around. It could be someone not getting enough quality minutes in Europe to get a shot at the USMNT. Gibbs or Thorrington, maybe even Kirovski if you apply the same thinking as 2000. It also might be someone who has USMNT experience who just isn't in the thick of the battle for playing time like Mastroeni or Olsen. They didn't "try out" overage players last time. They took known quantities.

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