Sunday, February 12, 2012

A coupla tidbits on the Olympic team

The MLSS editors asked Travis Clark and myself to take a stab at selecting a U.S. Olympic squad as if we were the coach, and this presentation went up yesterday. Space was limited for comment there, so I'll take advantage here to expand a bit on my selections.

  • First off, let's just talk about the players I refrained from choosing with the mindset that the reality would be they're somehow unavailable (would not be risked because of USMNT place, would not be released by their club, etc).

    Jozy Altidore is the clear top senior side striker and his club may need to go through UEFA cup qualifying - in other words, I'd be pleasantly shocked if he was in the Olympic team. Essentially the same goes for Timothy Chandler and Eric Lichaj (though the former would be more likely to make a call-up killing summer move than worry over Europa League qualis).

    As Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury seem Klinsi favorites for back-up at a currently shallow position for the international level, I get the feeling they won't be pulling double duty either.
  • Secondly, let's cover a point that was not correct or incorrect as it was hard to describe accurately in small space. I said that Danny Potts would be "cap-tied" by appearing for the U.S. at the Olympics.

    Really, I'm not sure that isn't technically correct, because I don't know what else to call it. Here's the full description... by playing an official youth international match, Potts would be in essence making his international choice, with the obvious proviso that he could file for a one-time federation switch with FIFA to represent England.

    It is also to an extent correct, I suppose, to to say he isn't cap-tied, as the Olympics are not senior caps and he does have the switch option. I think that's the key word right there, though; he would need to switch to then play for England. In my book of hearing English words, that means switching from where he'd hypothetically been tied.

    Whatever you prefer to call it, that's the full picture. Nobody's really wrong. It's all good and my pick stands as is.
  • Next, let move onto something really fun. A few friends and readers have suggested that my roster only contains one true striker, and that I may have been better served by including another in place of one of several attacking midfielder and winger types.

    I'll just cut to the chase. They may be totally right about this. It's no surprise to me, I'm well aware that my picks may be faulty in this regard if put into actual practice. To be totally truthful, I've spent most of the time since my deadline for a final roster wondering if I shouldn't have picked the alternate Terrence Boyd instead of Joe Corona for precisely that reason. It may seem so now, but this isn't even the funnest part.

    What's my explanation for this intentional insanity? Easy.

    Right off the top... this was hard. No kidding. I've done a lot of these mock roster builds over the years, and this was easily the most difficult to decide down to a final list. I love doing these things, but this one bordered on being a punishment. After that, you have the roster size, which was surely negotiated to that size by the clubs and is surely two too small at 18.

    With all that in mind, there is no choice but to cut a risk corner somewhere. I chose not to cut mine in midfield or the wide positions. This is where the meat of the game is won by 4-3-3 teams, which is not to say that goalies, CB's and strikers don't count for as much. They are, of course, the "last gatekeepers" of play, but also ones that can have their jobs made much easier by the three guys in the middle of the park and the four guys on the flanks.

    However! Here's the final catch to my madness: in this team selection, weighing all factors and risks, my second #9 forward, my late game pinch-hitter to lead the line is... Brek Shea.

    That's right. I said it and I own it. I'm not kidding at all. That's what I'd do. Or at the very least it's what I had done at the roster deadline given. In my mind, he should have already been tried there in a late-game situation.

    I guess, most of all, I can think of no one else I'd want striving for goal in the 2012 Olympic crunch against defenders beaten up by Andrew Wooten and run ragged by our wingers than The Painting Cockatoo (trademark, all rights reserved).
  • I'm also fully aware that there are about 912 missing midfielders and right backs that would make fine selections. Some of them will even contribute in qualifying before being left out of the final squad. Like I said above, this was rough.

    I'd say the most difficult, wrenching exclusions for me were Jared Jeffrey, Kofi Sarkodie and Sheanon Williams. When I was shuffling some names around at the end of my process, I kept thinking it was crazy they weren't even alternates. That's how much young talent we have now. It was also tough to omit Omar Salgado, who I actually feel is almost ready for it now, but may not get great amounts of playing time Vancouver by summer.
I think that's most of it. If I remember another point to make, I'll add it.

- Greg Seltzer


Alex said...

Greg, I'm not sure that this relates but it might. what's the lowdown on the adam henley guy at blackburn? do you know why he chose wales over the US? I just dont know hardly anything about him. thanks

heythisisrobbie said...

This was the best roster that I've seen, Greg. Nice work.

The only head scratcher I saw was not putting Boyd in the lineup. I'd rate him above Agudelo for the Senior team quite honestly.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Alex: I'm guessing it's because Wales have quite a mob of promising young players, a popular coach and Ryan Giggs selling it.

@ HTIrobbie: Thanks. Like I said, I'm still wishy-washy on leaving Boyd out. That being said, I'd have a real hard time believing he's ahead of Agudelo and there's no real way at this time to prove it. Let's remember Boyd's U23 work lately is about at the same level as his club league, which is 4th flight Germany. He has the tools to do it, but I want to see him do it before I start putting him ahead of people.

Greg Seltzer said...

I guess I should add that I was doing this exercise with the mindset that it's like with Porter; I have to work along with what Klinsi is doing and wants to some extent. This was also something that helped tip Morales past the other right backs and Williams into the team.

heythisisrobbie said...

Fair enough re: Boyd, Greg. However, in rebuttal, riding the pine for Dortmund is much more impressive than riding the pine for Red Bulls.

I don't want that one comment to diminish how highly I thought of your roster, however.

Really quickly, what overage players would you add? It's crazy but I think I'd rather have the young 'ens get the experience...

Josh said...

Greg, I know this is a different administration than in 2008, but you seem to be under the assumption that anyone involved in the senior team is not in consideration for these Olympics. I checked the rosters for the summer 2008 friendlies and qualifiers immediately before and after the Olympics, and a number of players (Bradley, Adu, Edu, Guzan, Kljestan, maybe one or two more I forgot) were involved in both, so people like Jozy and Chandler shouldn't be ruled out.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ HTIrobbie: Agudelo played 27 games for NYRB last season and has 15 USMNT caps. He is not in the same boat as Boyd.

And I chose my overages already.

@ Josh: Yes, it is a different administration, but also WCQ has changed some.

Of course, the obvious explanation is that some of the Olympic players will eventually be utilized in the qualis that come after because, well, the Olympics will be over by then.

Still, Bradley was the only player of those you listed that was a senior team starter at the time. And he was also arguably the best U23 player at the time. Like I said, we are also now dealing with new levels of system depth.

Of course, I could well end up being wrong on this "wrinkle" to my selections, but I had to decide on how I thought these things would go to complete the exercise. This is what I settled on.

Nick said...

Any thoughts to overage player selection? What position would you identify as a need? Which overage players may make themselves available?

Specific over-agers I would point out? Stu Holden (potentially looking for new home if Bolton is relegated?)....Charlie Davies?

Greg Seltzer said...

Ya know... Charlie is actually quite a clever idea. Hmmm. Dammit, Nick. Now, you're making me think I could go tinker with the squad again.

As for the prime overage need this time, that's easy:


As for who might ask to go, I think that's the kind of thing that may not start happening just yet. My roster is referring to a speculative July, whereas a lot of these guys are still waiting to see where they'll be standing by summer - with possible early UEFA qualis, with WCQ, with fitness, many things.

We'll probably start hearing that stuff once they qualify (do note my assumptive confidence tone).