We’re more than a month away from the next time the United States men’s national team takes the pitch together, but here’s a fun exercise for those who might consider that side their favorite in the world.
There was a time when there was no doubt that a team of Europe-based USMNT players would be favored to topple a domestic-based unit, but many of the Yanks’ best-known names are now playing in MLS, and Tim Howard‘s coming back soon.
So we couldn’t help but wonder: Is there any question whether that balance of power has shifted?
[ MORE: Tim Howard speaks to JPW ]
Jermaine Jones turned New England into one of the better teams in the East before moving to Colorado, where he’s shone in the No. 10 role (!!) on debut last week. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore are together at Toronto FC, and Clint Dempsey plies his trade in Seattle.
It was less than one World Cup cycle ago that those players were at Schalke, Roma, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland, and widely considered the standouts of the USMNT.
Now the European set is headlined by Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron, Hertha Berlin’s John Anthony Brooks and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Fabian Johnson, a transition no doubt shaped by Jurgen Klinsmann’s status as the head coach of the national team.
And the generational shift has many of the brightest USMNT prospects in Europe still a bit away from really breaking through; For every Christian Pulisic getting real minutes at Borussia Dortmund, there are several players like Julian Green and Gedion Zelalem trying to keep their foot in the door.
[ MORE: Totti headed to New York Cosmos? ]
This isn’t a judgment on players coming home; That’s been done before, and the idea of Major League Soccer improving to the point where it isn’t a clear detriment to play in MLS or upgrade to go to most European leagues is awesome. Matt Besler opted to star in KC, while Matt Miazga chose Chelsea to test himself. Jordan Morris chose Seattle over Werder Bremen, but DeAndre Yedlin fled Seattle for Tottenham.
But how would it shake out? Here’s a very cursory look at the teams (We’ll give Howard to Colorado, and keep the sides in the same formation). Perhaps it tilts the way of North America?
Yedlin, Brooks, Miazga, Edgar Castillo
Cameron, Danny Williams
Pulisic, Alejandro Bedoya, Johnson
Subs: Ethan Horvath; Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, Perry Kitchen, Emerson Hyndman, Julian Green, Jerome Kiesewetter.
Brad Evans, Steve Birnbaum, Besler, DaMarcus Beasley
Kyle Beckerman, Bradley
Gyasi Zardes, Darlington Nagbe, Dempsey
Subs: David Bingham; Tim Parker, Brandon Vincent, Graham Zusi, Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones, Jordan Morris.
What do you think? Right now, who wins?