Yes. The answer is yes it can.
And I mean right now, today, current form and clubs. Not all-time best or something.
And by legit I mean one that could compete in Concacaf Nations League or Qualifying. I’m not talking win the World Cup or anything, but just an XI that could take the field and compete in most international situations without getting embarrassed.
Edit 1: I failed to mention I wanted to specifically keep the same formation the USMNT currently uses.
Edit 2: I can’t believe I have to come back and say this. This isn’t intended as a serious suggestion. It’s just for fun.
Let’s take a look.
Starter: Ricardo Pepi
Other candidates: Jesus Ferreira
Look, this one was easy, mostly because I need Ferreira at…
Starters: Jesus Ferreira and Alex Zendejas
Other Candidates: Dante Sealy, I guess, and…. um… Arturo Rodriguez?
Ok, you see why I needed Ferreira at wing.
Starters: Weston McKennie and Paxton Pomykal
Other Candidates: Chris Cappis and Tanner Tessmann.
McKennie was a lock.
You guys know I love Chris Cappis, but I gave Pomykal the nod over him because of his experience in MLS, the number of games and caps, etc. MLS is easily on the same level as the Danish Super League and Serie B, if not better.
Your mileage may vary.
Starter: Kellyn Acosta
Other Candidates: Edwin Cerrillo
You know I love Cerrillo’s continued progression, but right now, today, Acosta is the easy choice. He’s just come off a World Cup with the US and they use him as a 6 and 8. So KA is the choice.
Starter: Jonathan Gomez
Other Candidates: Niko Hämäläinen
Hämäläinen is tied to Finland but he was born in the US so I included him for the sake of the discussion.
But the answer is JoGo.
Starters: Chris Richards and Tanner Tessmann
Other Candidates: Justin Che, Jonathan Tomkinson, Nico Carrera, Moisés Hernández, and Nolan Norris.
Chris Richards was a lock and after that it got tough.
But I’ve been saying since he was a U19 that Tanner Tessmann could make a $20 million center back. He’s got size and athleticism, he’s a good defender, and – most importantly in this day and age – he’s great on the ball and a fantastic passer. So I’m picking Tessmann over all the other options.
Che and Carrera have played in Bundesliga reserve teams and Che is mostly a right back now anyway. Tomkinson has a solid U23 club run but not much else. Norris is a US U19 but is probably a couple of seasons from competing at this level.
It’s my XI, I can do what I want. And I want Tessmann.
Edit: After Fritz’s comment below… yeah Reggie Cannon at CB should have been the choice. As I noted in the below bit on RBs, Reggie plays more RCB in a back three these days than RB. Derp.
Starter: Bryan Reynolds
Other Candidates: Reggie Cannon and Shaq Moore
This might be my most controversial choice, I think Reynolds has exceeded both Cannon and Moore.
Reggie plays a whole lot of right center back in a back three these days. Yes, Moore is a lock starter for Nashville and was just in the World Cup team.
But right now, today, in their current form… it’s Reynolds for me. Reynolds is playing some amazing modern attacking football and clubs are lining up to get him.
But it’s tight. Selecting Cannon or Moore isn’t a bad choice either.
Starter: Antonio Carrera
Other Candidates: Junlian Eyestone, Richard Sanchez, and Jesse Gonzalez.
Look, the answer should be Gonzalez but we all know why it’s not. He’s two-plus years out of the game now having last played in 2020.
Carrera is 2nd choice with the US U20s, the North Texas SC starter for a second season, and FCD’s third choice. He’s the best choice right now. I’m picking him over Richard Sanchez who is at Hartford Atletic in the USL Championship.
Eyestone is one for the future, he’s in the US U17 pool, but he’s not the choice today.
How’s it look?
Not bad, not bad at all. My team can sure as heck build out and play some quality soccer.
What’s your FCD Academy XI for the USMNT look like?