Friday, July 18, 2008
Strength is relative
I didn't write the headline to my article about the Olympic roster.
Not that I object to it per se, but I do find it a bit of a paradox, because one of my main points in the article was that the U.S. didn't send the strongest team they could have to the Olympics. Obviously, World Cup qualifying was an issue that conflicted, as did the demands of club teams, especially when it came to one Landon Donovan. LD wanted to go, and there's solid info that U.S. Soccer wanted him, but the Galaxy probably told them, "Look, forget it. Take him to the Olympics, or to WC qualifying, but both? No way."
Or, if you want to hear exactly what Ruud did say on the matter, click here.
Back to the article, I think that there's no doubt that this is the strongest team of U23 players the U.S. has ever sent to the Olympics. The overage players, however, have been stronger in the past, I believe. Not to knock Parkhurst, for example, but I don't think he's a game-changer the way Chris Armas, Jeff Agoos or Frankie Hejduk were in 2000. Parky is a smart player who won't make mistakes, but he doesn't bring a lot extra to the table in terms of leadership or incredible hustle or long passes.
I also have reservations about McBride's match fitness, honestly. In 1996, the three overagers were Alexi Lalas, Claudio Reyna and goalkeeper Kasey Keller. Keller at his best beats Guzan and a young Reyna beats out nearly everyone, and Lalas, well, he was a decent defender.
Anyway, I'm not saying the headline is wrong, but I'm qualifying my agreement with it to refer to the U23 players. Is the entire team the strongest the US has ever sent to an Olympics? I'd have to say that's arguable.