As the U.S. national team racked up their record-breaking ninth consecutive win against El Salvador on Sunday, people continue to debate just how good these Yanks are.
Skeptics say heavy wins against minnows in friendlies and Gold Cup games shouldn’t be looked upon favorably, while others argue that the incredible depth at Jurgen Klinsmann’s disposal now makes this the best pool of players ever to pull on a U.S. jersey.
Of course it’s hard to judge this team against the U.S. side in Italia ’90 or the 2002 World Cup quarter-finalists, as every era is unique and arguments constantly rumble on about which side is the best in history, how they rank against each other, so on and so forth.
But I think this may be the best group of players that U.S. soccer has ever seen.
That’s a huge statement. But I’m throwing it out there.
(MORE: USA set new record after eighth straight win, but what does it really mean?)
This isn’t based on huge wins against CONCACAF cannon fodder. To be frank, it was incredibly difficult to name a U.S. First, Second and Third XI without leaving plenty of big name players out of the picture.
There is a solid core of 35-40 players who could all perform extremely well for the USMNT when the World Cup arrives in Brazil next summer. Has the USA ever had that before? Three completely different lineups who could all do an extremely good job.
We all know what Klinsmann’s starting XI is right now.
There is maybe some debate about the left hand side, but every other position is pretty much locked down, as it stands. But there’s so much to play for, not only for the rest of this Gold Cup campaign, but during the next 11 months leading up to World Cup 2014.
Sadly, there are always a few players who play themselves out of the squad with poor performances. However, right now, so many are playing well and at their peak that Klinsmann has an incredibly hard task to pick a ‘B’ side… let alone his full-strength team.
But that’s a great headache to have, and one that almost every national team manager in the world would be envious of.
So I decided to break it down and constructed what I think would be the national teams three strongest staring lineups. And there’s a bunch of top quality reserves left over too.
Let me know what you think. I had such a tough time with this. Rather you than me, Jurgen.
First XI: (4-2-3-1) Howard, Cameron, Besler, Gonzalez, Beasley; Bradley, Jones; Zusi, Dempsey, Fabian Johnson; Altidore
Second XI: (4-2-3-1) Guzan, Parkhurst, Goodson, Bocanegra, Castillo; Beckerman, Kljestan; Davis, Donovan, Corona; Eddie Johnson
Third XI: (4-1-3-2) Rimando, Chandler, Orozco Fiscal, Onyewu, Evans; Edu; Shea, Diskerud, Torres, Wondolowski, Gomez
Reserves: Agudelo, Gatt, Boyd, Diskerud, Holden, Cherundolo, Morrow, Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Bedoya, Beltran, Bruin, Gordon and many many more…