I know, I know. Late to the party. But it has to be said. Why in the world did Bob Bradley think taking a team of players with so little experience to the Copa America was a good idea? 16 out of 22 players had less than 10 caps. Of the 166 total caps for the team, 100 belong to Kasey Keller.
Yes, I understand he really wanted to get ‘the next generation’ some international experience. But this wasn’t some random tournament. This was CONMEBOL’s premiere tournament which the US had snubbed invitations to for years (thanks Bruce!) and then we do this? To face the likes of Argentina and Brazil, who also lacked a few familiar faces but were still dangerous? Contrast that with Mexico, who still smarting from their defeat in the Gold Cup, brought a team to compete (over 738 caps), and advanced out of the group rounds without a loss?
Why couldn’t we strike a better balance? I know some players didn’t want to do two tournaments in one summer (yes you Landon), but that’s a silly excuse for bringing so many inexperienced players. Imagine the respect we could have earned if we had brought some new players, a solid squad, and advanced to the knockout rounds? Instead, we got lots of new players some international experience, but also a lot of international scorn. Like we needed more.
The U.S. team arrived in Venezuela for the Copa America on June 26 with only seven players from the roster that won the CONCACAF Gold Cup over Mexico in the final two days earlier.
Using a squad in which 16 players had 10 caps or fewer – including three who had never played internationally, the United States lost its first two matches against Argentina and Paraguay by a combined score of 7-2.
"We like for the continent’s most important competition to be respected with the best players," CONMEBOL general secretary Eduardo Deluca told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
He said the Americans "opted to send a team with some players who aren’t their regulars. That doesn’t please us," Deluca told the AP.
However, he said the organization hopes for continued U.S. participation in the tournament.
Emphasis mine. Let’s hope they still feel that way the next time the Copa rolls around.
I get it – I get the developmental aspect of it. But this wasn’t some set of international friendlies. This meant more, to South America AND us. I know Bradley has ‘the long view’ of 2010. But, we really need to have a broader view. The USMNT is not viewed as a team to be reckoned with. Advancing and possibly winning the Copa would have gained the team some much needed respect (not that we would have done any better with the ‘A’ team, but a fan can dream). That matters. Mexico, Brazil, and others took some new blood mixed in with the A-list and did well. We could have done the same.
No, the Copa is not the World Cup or even the Champions Cup, but it’s not some random friendly either. Wishing we earned respect beating up on the usual CONCACAF Gold Cup victims before facing Mexico does not make it so. Here’s hoping we take the Champions Cup a little more seriously or we’ll just re-enforce the laughingstock mentality that can sometimes surround our team, no matter how good they are in 2010.