The Total Soccer Show guys raised a good question on their podcast from Feb. 22: Why doesn’t the USA have a “B” team?
This was specifically in the context of the men’s team, but it’s a good question for the women’s program as well. And though we could’ve asked this question any time, it’s especially relevant now.
A couple of reasons:
- As the TSS folks point out, the men have this little problem of not qualifying for Olympics. A “B” team would surely be mostly Under-23s with the occasional overage player. The U23s would get more experience playing together, and if they make it, they’ll be used to playing with the occasional overage player as well. (The men’s Olympic tournament really is a strange thing, isn’t it? I’ve covered an Olympic final with Messi involved, and I have virtually no memory of it except that it was like sitting in a convection oven. The Birds Nest really might be better for the Winter Olympics than it was for the Summer Olympics.)
- FIFA might be cutting back on its youth tournaments, leaving a big gap between U18 or U19 and the senior team.
- The CONCACAF Nations League will leave fewer international dates for friendlies that would usually be a good opportunity to give younger players a shot.
So, yes, having B teams would make a lot of sense, for the USA and for most other countries.
(Which means it’ll never happen.)