This past week saw the U.S. Men’s National Olympic Soccer team fail in its quest to be part of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The U.S. team was upset by Canada and then tied by El Salvador, resulting ultimately in their disqualification. So, no U.S. team in the Summer Olympics.
The team was made up of players mostly U-23, which means under 23 years old. This is the strategy imposed by the Olympic committee for player eligibility, which makes it like a U-23 World Cup (there are already a U-20 and U-17 World Cups).
It would be too much to ask the main squad of U.S. players, including Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, to play this Olympic event at the same time they are playing for their own pro teams and also playing in qualifiers for the actual World Cup.
Who cares anyways about U.S. soccer in the Olympics?
Casual sports fans have been trained to respond to the World Cup when it comes to international soccer’s measuring stick.
Are they supposed to follow Olympic soccer too?
The Olympics makes it too confusing to understand international soccer. There’s no real need for soccer in the Olympics. Soccer already has its event every four years in the World Cup.
Even if the U.S. was to win the Olympic soccer event, most people would end up misinterpreting the strength of the team.
Whichever country ends up winning the Olympics knows it is immaterial. It practically means nothing. Basically, it is a way to rally a country, like past winners, Nigeria and Cameroon.
Argentina, who has won the event the last two times in 2008 and 2004, has been a disappointment in recent World Cups.
Olympic soccer is nothing more than glorified friendlies, and friendlies have their issues. Friendlies are not real, though many soccer enthusiasts treat them as the Holy Grail. They are exhibitions.
The U.S. result this past week shouldn’t be dwelt upon and made into more than it was. Many insiders of the soccer world think the U.S. team was a disgrace and maybe they were, but it is too early to say how it affects the real event, World Cup 2014 in Brazil, and qualifying for it.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com