It’s only three months into the four-year cycle, and already 15 players have been chosen for the team that will compete in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. That new coach is one fast worker, eh? Well, not precisely. It’s not like he has a list penciled in – or penned, sharpied, crayoned, or any other writing utensil, for that matter. So how do we know that 65 percent of the group can already book their plane tickets to Johannesburg? Statistics, folks!
Yes, the old adage states that there are ‘lies, damn lies and statistics.’ But isn’t there also one that says numbers don’t lie? And another that says numbers don’t tell the whole story? Confusing, indeed, but let’s not let that get in the way of some good ole’ fashion speculation. After all, isn’t that what fantasy leagues are all about? And as we know, U.S. Soccer fans can prognosticate with the best of them, so our crack research department has dug up some reliable statistical fodder that will virtually allow you to pick the U.S. roster for the 2010 World Cup this very day. See if you can follow along:
• In the first four games following the 1994 World Cup, the U.S. used 30 players; Of those, 12 made the 1998 World Cup roster
• In the first four games following the 1998 World Cup (and the first four under Bruce Arena), the U.S. used a total of 27 players; of those, 13 made the 2002 World Cup roster (not counting Chris Armas who was named to the roster, but was replaced due to injury).
• In the first four games following the 2002 World Cup, the U.S. used a total of 21 different players and eight of those played in 2006.
• In the first four games following the 2006 World Cup, the U.S. has used a total of 36 players. So …
Doing the number crunching (yes, we used a calculator…math hurts our brains), if you average the total number of players used in the first four post-World Cup games and the number who eventually made the rosters, we can say that 15 players from the 2007 group will get picked for South Africa. And of course, this is where you come in. ussoccer.com wants to know who the 15 players will be, and who better to inform us than the most ardent followers of the U.S. Men’s National Team?
But wait – as the infomercials command us – there’s more! If, as we say, 15 players have already got their first sniff in 2007, that leaves eight more spots on a 23-man roster. So there are eight players out there who have yet to play a game in this cycle that will fill out the roster.
Undiscovered talent? Remember, in 2002 midfielder Pablo Mastroeni was the only player on the roster who did not play in World Cup qualifying. He got his break in the USA’s championship run in the Gold Cup that January. As did 19-year old DaMarcus Beasley, who played a mere 45 minutes in the qualifying campaign.
Forgotten veterans perhaps? Eleven months before the 2006 tournament in Germany, 28-year old defender Jimmy Conrad had yet to play his first match for the U.S. He, too, had a breakout performance in a Gold Cup-winning campaign. Then he appears in one of the USA’s greatest performances ever, the 1-1 draw with World Cup champion Italy.
Moral to the story, there are guys out there yet to make a name for themselves at the international level (at least eight, as near as we can tell), and we want you to tell us who they are. Write to us at email@example.com to “Name Your 15 plus 8”, and we’ll store these e-mails away for three years so you can come back and say ‘I told you so!’
‘Cause we would …