We just couldn’t help ourselves. With just over 60 days to go until the release of the most anticipated book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we had to celebrate Bruce Arena’s magnum opus, What’s Wrong with US?: A Coach’s Blunt Take on the State of American Soccer After a Lifetime on the Touchline (so blunt), by revisiting the former USMNT manager’s favorite dilemma — the MLS cohort versus their "hotshot" European counterparts.
For Arena, the only comforting moment of his second stint at the helm was the capturing of the 2017 Gold Cup, an achievement that was secured with a largely domestic-based core of players. The reintroduction of the European-based players and the “bad eggs” in September — as well as that damn social media team — then sent us spiraling to horror shows against Costa Rica, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago.
“It wasn’t the same team with the right chemistry. It just didn’t seem like everyone was on the same page with the right mentality and the same understanding of what everything was about,” Arena explained. “The chemistry of the group wasn’t right. It wasn’t the character you see out of a U.S. team.”
With Arena’s book and insight as our inspiration, here’s a look at what we believe to be America’s best MLS XI vs. its best European XI. It’s worth noting that we’re trying to avoid wild speculation over the futures of players like Timothy Weah and Josh Sargent here, so they’re not included.
And with that, I’ll leave you with this final explanation from Arena with regards to the qualifying failure: “And the second part, realistically, was that we didn’t have the most talented players…”
You can either agree or disagree based on what you see below.
USMNT MLS XI vs. European XI
GK: Zack Steffen | Columbus Crew SC
LB: Justin Morrow | Toronto FC
CB: Ike Opara | Sporting Kansas City
CB: Walker Zimmerman | Los Angeles FC
RB: Graham Zusi | Sporting Kansas City
CDM: Michael Bradley | Toronto FC
CM: Darlington Nagbe | Atlanta United
CM: Tyler Adams | New York Red Bulls
LW: Jordan Morris | Seattle Sounders
CF: Jozy Altidore | Toronto FC
RW: Paul Arriola | DC United
GK: Bill Hamid | Midtjylland
LB: Fabian Johnson | Gladbach
CB: Geoff Cameron | Stoke City
CB: John Brooks | Wolfsburg
RB: DeAndre Yedlin | Newcastle United
CDM: Weston McKennie | Schalke 04
CM: Kenny Saief | Anderlecht
CM: Danny Williams | Huddersfield Town
LW: Christian Pulisic | Borussia Dortmund
CF: Bobby Wood | Hamburger SV
RW: Aron Johansson | Werder Bremen
Our prediction: European XI wins 2-0 with Pulisic just terrorizing Graham Zusi. First goal is a cross-turned-shot from Pulisic, second goal is Pulisic emulating Maradona's Goal of the Century.
Who do you think would win? Would it be an entertaining match? It’d definitely be a low-scoring, grafting sort of one.