For the USMNT, the typical amount of decisions necessary before a World Cup or major tournament are typically easy. In the past, only a few players have really designated themselves as worth taking and the other players are relatively unknown to the U.S. soccer fan-base. This time around, the MLS is easily accessible to the fan-base and the entire squad is being discussed over the entirety of the internet.
Now, with 9 straight wins and many players that were on the outskirts of the selection process actually putting in impressive performances, the selection is becoming quite a bit more difficult for coach, Jürgen Klinsmann. Where Christopher Wondolowski would have easily been left behind a few months ago, the San Jose striker will now probably be an easy selection and may even be considered as a starter. Considering that Jozy Altidore has missed a large chunk of this, I worry that others will forget that he should easily be the first selection.
With the fact that the level of competition is going to increase exponentially once we hit the World Cup, the question still remains will any of these players will be able to perform at that level. For me, there are still only three or four USMNT players that are top-tier international performers and the rest are barely above typical MLS levels. Without Donovan, Dempsey, and Howard, then the USMNT would have difficulty making me think that we could even survive the group stage.
Despite the fact that it is nice to have some difficulties deciding who we choose for the USMNT because of great performances, the feel around the team is still shocking to me. Considering that we have not faced a decent competitor since getting spanked by Spain, the team seems to feel that we are moving in a positive direction. Just think if we got moved into the South American qualifying campaign and how we would be faring down there. If we were lucky, we may snag the last spot for direct qualifying…but even Uruguay is struggling to qualify down there.
Without playing someone that can help us truly gauge our level of talent and which players can perform at this level, the USMNT will never know if we are ready for the upcoming World Cup. Considering that even Mexico is having a struggle beating teams like Canada and Trinidad & Tobago, there is really no one in CONCACAAF that can give us a good test. However, the scariest thought would be if one of these teams does happen to beat us…then what would we think of our national team? 2014 offers a lot of excitement, but with the USMNT, it only offers a wealth of question marks and doubt.