If USMNT Made the Olympics Who Would Be Their Starting XI
The Olympics are now fully underway, and Olympic soccer has shown several thrills and upsets.
For Americans, there remains a distinctly bitter taste in their mouths about Olympic soccer though.
There is no USA team in the men's competition.
And while the women have done tremendously well so far, the total lack of men's qualification is a blot on the London games for Team USA.
Failure to beat Canada and El Salvador sealed their fate, and no matter how talented the team surely is, more questions abound than answers.
Yet, it remains to be asked by American fans: what would our starting XI look like if we had sent a team?
Keep in mind, the roster I've assembled is a "perfect circumstances" one, and doesn't take club or transfer circumstances into account.
But bare with me, because after all it is all hypothetical since they didn't actually qualify.
Still, U.S. soccer fans can dream, so here's a look at the lineup that could have been.
GK: Bill Hamid: One of the more talented players of the group, Hamid has an incredible shot-stopping ability and amazing dedication. The failure to qualify has only motivated the 21 year old, as he noted in a recent interview.
RB: Josh Gatt: As a member of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Norwegian side, Molde, Gatt is learning from one of the best. And as many have noted, he may be one of the fastest players in all of Scandinavia.
CB: Omar Gonzalez: He's only just healing up after tearing his ACL in January, but, now that he's moving back towards his normal self, Gonzales is an obvious choice. His aerial presence and calmness on the ball would be valuable to Team USA.
CB: Ike Opara: Similar to Gonzalez in that he's a physical presence, Opara can also run with a lot of forwards, and having pace at the back is just as important as physicality.
LB: Fabian Johnson: The first above-23 player! Johnson has shown himself to be a spectacular answer to the seemingly age-old question of who will play left back for the U.S. Like what Micah Richards is doing for GB, Johnson would add a rare combination of experience and youth to the back line.
CM: Joe Corona: One of the men who left Olympic trials better than he entered it, Corona showed his goal-scoring prowess stepping up from the midfield. He's also a very good passer and would give the team an innate ability to hold possession.
CM: Michael Bradley: Another over-age player, Bradley recently transferred to Roma and made an impact instantaneously. He scored a nice goal against Liverpool at Fenway Park and continues to make a case for a starting spot at one of Italy's most prestigious teams. He would undoubtedly captain the team and give USA a ball-winner in the middle of the field.
CAM: Freddy Adu: A controversial figure, made even more so by the fact that he led the failed qualifying campaign. Yet, it wasn't his fault. Adu did all he could on offense and didn't embarrass himself defensively when called upon. His passing and creativity would be great additions to a team playing 4-3-3 (which, if you haven't figured out by now, is what I had in mind).
FW: Brek Shea: Despite a disappointing MLS season, Shea is still a fearsome weapon for the U-23 side. His pace, size and skill make a match for any right back that he would face in the tournament. Of the forwards, he would probably find himself situated on the left side.
FW: Clint Dempsey: The final over-23 spot goes to America's best player right now. And yes I'm aware he's immersed in transfer intrigue, possibly moving to Anfield any day now. Still, why not take his mind off the rumors by leading America in the Olympics? In terms of what he would do on the field, his inclusion needs no explanation.
CF: Juan Agudelo: To be fair, Terrence Boyd made a decent case as well, but Agudelo's versatility makes him a more likely pick here. Especially with Dempsey in the team, it would be necessary for the center forward to be fluid and switch out wide at times, and Agudelo can do that. First and foremost though, he can bang in goals.
It's a fine group, and they probably would have been a match for anyone this side of Brazil (and who knows, they probably could have scored on a Brazil).
Yet we will never know.
It's truly a shame that the American side didn't make it. That said, Honduras (the team that basically took the U.S.'s spot), beat Spain.
So it shouldn't be said that both the CONCACAF teams haven't done very well.
In any event missing the Olympics again would be a disaster, so here's looking at 2016 already!
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