There is no scientific formula for picking a national team. There simply is no recipe, with precise measures of well-balanced ingredients as a fixed-point guideline.
This is cooking up an impromptu soup with ingredients on hand – and remembering that you still need to save something for dinner.
So we get to Brek Shea, the struggling winger who was tossed a lifeline with Sunday’s announcement of the U.S. roster.
There is simply no way to justify Shea’s choice if this roster is about winning one match, and about the ongoing demonstration that spit-polished form and fitness are unquestioned requirements for national team call-ups. Generally speaking, that needs to be the presiding message.
But, of course, this isn’t about winning a game in Mexico – a mission of low-probability success potential, by the way.
This is all about getting to Brazil 2014 and about achieving as much as realistically possible once there.
Klinsmann’s job right now is to maximize those chances, to squeeze as much opportunity factor into the larger work. And that’s where selecting rosters becomes far more art than science.
And it’s why I have no problem with Shea’s selection.
(Some other choices, I can’t explain, except that to say Klinsmann is clearly a man who zigs when we think he’s sure to zag.)
Here’s what Klinsmann had to say about Shea on last night’s conference call from Mexico:
I had good conversations the last week with Schellas Hyndman of FC Dallas and we both see a lot of upside in Brek Shea. We all knew that after the big disappointment of not qualifying for the Olympics that our youngsters from that program would eventually fall into a hole. They would go through emotional rollercoasters. That’s what happened with Brek – he went through an emotional rollercoaster and he didn’t have himself under control. Schellas and I – we tried to look through all those elements and we think he needs our support and the feeling that we’re there when things get tough.”
Does it send the wrong message? I doubt it. Everybody can see the talent in the FCD man. Heck, at this time last year we were talking about Shea as Major League Soccer’s MVP. If Shea can get his head right, those long legs, the power in his game and all that bullheaded audacity will discover renewed effectiveness.
So that’s the target here, to help Shea get those big feet pointed in the right direction as a best-bet hedge on future, team success.
Clearly, players of lesser talent and raw ability would not be treated the same, would not be afforded the same latitude.
But that’s just big boy sports, and we should all know so.