U.S. Olympic team assistant coach Glenn Myernick recently pointed out the pressure that the Olympic hopefuls find themselves under.
1. Most are going through their first year of professional soccer with their MLS clubs.
2. They are fighting for a spot on the Olympic team itself.
3. They are aware that three wild-card players will soon join the team and replace three players.
Then there is the pressure on the head coach, Bruce Arena. His resume of five NCAA titles with exciting Virginia Cavalier teams got him the job that Timo Liekoski had for a year before getting canned last October.
Arena was the king of college soccer. Now in the pros, Arena is trying to pull together a D.C. United team that won two of its first nine games.
Arena's Olympic team results have
been all right -- five losses in 21 games --
albeit in an exhibition schedule that included few, if any, opponents as strong as await it in the Olympics.
He has used 39 under-23 players since January, not including Gregg Berhalter, the one U-23 player playing professionally abroad. His roster for the next game has 22 U-23 players on it.
So he has a slew of players, unsure of their MLS or Olympic future. He could alleviate pressure on all involved if he announces his roster immediately, instead of waiting for the July 5 deadline to name his 15 U-23s and three wild cards. In case of injury, a small group of alternates could remain on call.
A prolonged tryout -- one that for most of the players started at least a year before Arena arrived -- places an unnecessary burden on the players. The coaching staff, which was hired for its ability to recognize talent, doesn't need any more time to pick the team.
by Soccer America Senior Editor Mike Woitalla