Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
If all the coverage of the Winter Olympics has you in the Olympic spirit, don’t let the fact that the next Olympic soccer tournament isn’t for another two years.
In my latest piece for Goal.com, I projected the squad of players who will make up the U.S. Olympic team in 2016 (assuming the team qualifies of course). The point of the piece wasn’t so much about trying to predict the future, but more a chance to take stock of the young talent in the U.S. pipeline.
Give the story a read and let me know what you think of the projections. Before you do that though, here are some more thoughts on that projected Olympic team:
Two players left off the list who drew a lot of questions were Jose Villarreal and Junior Flores. With Villarreal, he would have seemed like a lock projection to the Olympic team as recently as six months ago, but the fact that the Galaxy let him go on loan to Cruz Azul rather than feature on the Galaxy in 2014 suggests his development isn’t going as quickly as many would have expected. There’s no denying that he had a disappointing Under-20 World Cup, and while he has had some amazing moments in his young MLS career, he hasn’t been close to consistent or looked like someone who could start any time soon.
Now, if Villarreal manages to find minutes in Mexico, and earn himself a transfer, or even returns to the Galaxy and becomes the starter so many projected him to be for so long, he could absolutely climb into the projected squad.
As for Junior Flores, he’s certainly a talented young midfielder, but he’s been showered with a bit more hype than his actual production would merit. He is reportedly set to sign with Borussia Dortmund’s U-23 team in March, which should only boost his stock. Assuming his play leads to more opportunities. For now, he’s a notch behind other players currently involved in pro set-ups.
If we factor in the three roster slots that will be needed for overage players on the Olympic team, I would imagine we’d see one for a goalkeeper, one for a defender and one for a forward. Jack McBean and Kellyn Acosta would likely be the odd men out, along with one of the goalkeepers. Steffen would seem the likely choice, but don’t go ruling him out just yet.
What do you think of the squad I projected? Who would you add to the team if you were picking the squad? Who would you take out?
Share your thoughts below.