Here in the world of mythical memories, anything is possible. It is a world where only potential determines if an event occurred or not and the possibilities are endless.
Here I will explore all those possibilities for the USMNT and analyze how soccer in this nation could be different if it weren’t for a few impactful events. I know it is probably not healthy to live in the land of make-believe, but sometimes dreaming about what could have been is just too much fun.
Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy thinking of how soccer in the states could be dramatically different. Want to live in the past like me? Read my list of “What Ifs” for the USMNT.
I think it is safe to say that the prodigy's career would be in a much better place had he not ditched the states for Benfica back when he was only 17 years old. After a few successful years in the MLS, Adu chose to move from his comfort zone to Europe, where he has played for five teams in as many years. However, his play did not develop as well as his passport pages and is now being labeled as one of the biggest busts in American sports history.
Moving to such a high-profile club at such a young age clearly affected his soccer progression as he did not receive the amount of attention and affection necessary. In the U.S., he was an idol. In Portugal, he was just another winger on the roster. It is safe to say that playing consistently in the MLS as a teenage talent would have been much healthier for his soccer development than being aimlessly loaned for five straight seasons.
This article not only forces you to read, but to think as well. Imagine home USMNT soccer matches without Sam's Army or the American Outlaws.
Imagine the dramatically decreased sound decibels at a game without the drums, chants, or songs that are sung by our most supportive fans. You can't. Who would sit behind the goals? Probably just some random dad with his child who decides to wear a Kobe Lakers jersey to the beautiful game.
I don't even want to think about it.
Landon Donovan has had a crazy 12 months. After scoring the most heroic goal in USMNT history, LD walked a path previously untaken by a United States soccer player. Donovan became a highly wanted man by the American media and was, for a while, the most popular human in the country. All because he was in the right place, at the right time.
Now, with Donovan possessing a fair amount of popularity before his historic goal, the transition from star to hero seemed quite natural in some ways. But imagine if the Algeria goal was scored by some other U.S. player with a little less swagger and a lot less game.
If Edson Buddle had scored the goal, would he have appeared on five separate late night shows and received GQ's "Man of the Year?" If Demarcus Beasley slotted home the game winner, would the U.S. have received as much media attention as it did when Donovan finished the job? The world may never know.
Life for U.S. fans would be a whole lot different. All those fans who got to view the blissful blend between Altidore and Davies in the Confederations Cup know exactly what I'm talking about.
Davies and Altidore had striker chemistry that was previously and since unseen in the U.S. Soccer attack. They played, scored, and danced beautifully, leaving fans a lot more comfortable and Bob Bradley a lot less stressed.
If Davies avoided the horrific injury, we wouldn't have had to endure the pain of watching Robbie Findley start against England with the whole world watching. Bob Bradley, if you're reading this: please get him back in a USA uniform.
The tournament would have been a lot less exciting from a U.S. supporters' perspective. Yes, we could have joyfully watched the USMNT pull off one of the most amazing comebacks in World Cup history, but we would have all lost the ecstatic emotion of the Algeria game with it.
No mysterious referee call equals two more points and a driver's seat position for the USA heading into Game 3. We would not have excitingly edged out Group C, but confidently conquered it with a few points to spare. If Koman Coulibaly had eyes, we would have had a lot less fun.
This questionable selection will be the event that I forever remember Bob Bradley for. Heading into Round 2 against Ghana, I remember thinking that Ricardo Clark had no business being on our National team.
His speed was slow, his passing was mediocre, and his confidence was nowhere to be found in the Group Stage. However, big Bob Bradley somehow deemed his play deserving of a start in the biggest game of USA's long history.
His decision did not come without consequences.
In just the fifth minute, Clark turned the ball over at midfield to KP Boateng, who then took advantage of the USA's mishap and scored. Clark was then subbed off in the 31st minute for Benny Feilhaber (who deserved to start), costing the U.S. a sub they desperately could have used late in the game. The decision to start Clark very well could have cost the U.S. a bid to the quarterfinals.
Sitting on top of the continent, we would all laugh at the idea that striker problems could have possibly plagued us at the 2010 World Cup. The New Jersey native had the capability to play for the USMNT back in 2008, but chose to take his talents to Italy instead, leaving us wondering what possibly could have been.
At just 24 years old, Rossi already has 51 La Liga goals and has been linked to Barcelona in what would be a high-profile transfer. Chris Wondolowski? Yeah, I don't think he breaks the first XI.
Usually, when a player is struggling to develop for his club team, a coach expresses his concern to the player privately and in an appropriate manner. However, former U.S. U20 coach Thomas Rongen seemed to have a different philosophy when it came to expressing his player apprehensions.
In November 2006, Rongen publicly criticized then-U.S. U20 defender Neven Subotic for failing to develop overseas at Mainz. Subotic felt betrayed by Rongen and when it came time to select a First Team nation, left the United States for Serbia. Subotic ended up developing just fine and is now a regular starter for Bundesliga Champion Borussia Dortmund. Oh, how things could be different.
Not only would it have been labeled as the biggest upset in International football history, but it would have put the USMNT on the map globally. Winning CONCACAF has been expected of us for years and no longer will a Gold Cup trophy raise eyebrows in the outside world.
We needed something bigger, and we may never get the chance to be bigger than a two goal lead against the world's most historic team. Of course, we all remember our miraculous run to the finals but, the truth is, nobody else remembers second place.
Have more "What Ifs" for the USMNT? Comment below.