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What if the USMNT played in the Premier League?


Sunderland v Hull City - Premier League Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

It’s like Saturnalia in August - the return of good soccer is upon us as the European club seasons get underway. No more International Champions Cups, no more All-Star games, no college graduates on these rosters, it’s time for players who unironically apply the suffix “inho” to their name to step up. While Americans who are testing themselves at the highest level are scattered across the Old Country (Old Countries, Old Continent?), it would be interesting if those players, and some in MLS (sorry), joined forces to play on the same team in the best league in the world: the English Premier League.

Is the Premier League The Best league in the world? I don’t know, it’s one of them and it’s certainly more competitive than just about everywhere outside of the Bundesliga. Plus, I can pretend to know more about it because every few weeks I check in on Men in Blazers but I plan on following my all-time most favorite team ever Chelsea more closely now that they’ve signed a player I’ve been following since I first became interested in soccer in 1994 - Christian Pulisic. So yes, the EPL is the best because why would CP24 leave the best league for a worse one?

Here’s 22 players who made the roster:

There wasn’t a spot for manager, but this team is clearly being managed by someone. It’s a club team so the stakes are lower than the World Cup and firing people is way easier since I’m also assuming that nobody’s brother is an executive for this club. I can basically pick anyone, but since I’m going with an American club team concept we’ll stick with that and pass Diego Maradona sadly and go with Jesse Marsch. He’s the best American coach, has ideas about how to play soccer, even if it’s almost like he’s a football team that runs the triple option more than does real tactics, and I think is successful at getting buy in from players. Also, I’m bringing Brad Guzan as 3rd goalkeeper, he knows what it’s like to be relegated and let’s be real... this team might get relegated.

Otherwise, I went with players who play well on different teams that also won’t have divided loyalties between Club and Dog with the presumption that they would play well if they all got together on the same team. It seems like an odd thing to do apparently. Supposing that we’re actually going with a 30 man roster, just add whichever players I didn’t include or pretend that they’re just on loan somewhere. I’d probably have Alfredo Morales, Miles Robinson, and Andrija Novakovich dropped in there if there was space. My favorite part of this exercise was doing the numbers though - the best American at anything should wear no. 23, that’s just the way it should work forever no matter the sport and strikers should wear 44 like they’re a home-run hitter in baseball who hits for a .248 average.

How 38 Games against the best (or second best, whatever) would look

First we need to clear some room in the league. Dear Aston Villa fans, as new owner of Aston Villa, I’d like to announce that the team has been re-branded the Barney Eagles. The colors are red, white, and blue - the home kit is blue with a white sash like the Continental Army taking something resembling freedom from the Red Coats, a white kit with red hoops for the second kit, and an alternate with more neon than the Las Vegas strip because that’s what makes America amazing and awful all at the same time. It’s not all bad though, in exchange MLS has agreed to re-brand Austin FC as Austin Villa, so it all worked out in the end - enjoy Anthony Precourt! I bet Pulisic is going to love Birmingham, surely it’s a lot like Hershey...

Anyway, how’s this going to look?

This seems like it might be... almost kinda good? It might also be a mess. I base these predictions on the idea that the team has market value - here’s how the experts at not-fake transfer fee making website transfermarkt think the EPL shapes up. Doing some quick and boring napkin math, I’d estimate that the value of the USA roster is something like $162 million. That’s higher than I thought it would be, but still about $20 million less than the third lowest market value in the league which belongs to Aston Villa. Maybe that gets made up from the roster spots I didn’t include, but that might just add $10-$20 million in value, so it’s still going to be low. The one wildcard that this team does have that teams basically all outside of the top six are missing is Christian Pulisic. He would be a major outlier in the EPL where a player with a $70 million price tag isn’t going to be on a team with such low market value. So much of what’s below assumes that he’s thrashing some teams when they forget to mark him out of the game.

Overall, that XI isn’t going to be be beating the top four teams, perhaps a legendary 0-0 draw against Liverpool at home on a rainy and miserable summer evening is in the offing, but unless VAR gives BEFC a gift red card or penalty, several Manchesters, Tottenham, and Liverpool aren’t going to have a problem here - ok that’s 8 games and one point (if there’s a miracle)...

Then there’s the upper mid-table. Arsenal and Chelsea type teams who might finish 5-6 but have over 60 points are going to be a bit more of an even match, but probably still a struggle for this team. Let’s be optimistic and grab a win, one draw and two losses (it’s getting slightly ugly) - that adds up to 12 games and five points... MARSCH OUT.

OK, now it gets a little more reasonable that we’ve hit the part of the fake table that I invented where Everton resides. Gylfi who? We’ve got Tyler Adams! Anyway, the under 60 points but over 50 points teams finished 7-11 based on last year’s table. Let’s be extremely generous and say the Thirteen Stripes just drop one of those games at home, win three and draw one while picking up a win at Everton and draw West Ham while losing three on the road (this is very generous)... We’re now at 22 games played and 19 points... MARSCH STILL OUT.

Woof, thank goodness we’re getting to the under 50 - over 40 point teams. That would be four clubs last year and depending on how the schedule shapes up the fans can sing the team’s anthem (which is just the national anthem) after two wins at home, one draw, and probably a heartbreaking loss on a last minute Ashley Barnes strike. Luckily, an away win and draw with a pair of losses bring back a point a game on the road - I mean can you believe that Dubravka howler? Feeling much better now that the team has 30 games played and 32 points.

All right now we’re in kinda familiar territory for American soccer... relegation zone land. If only the players in MLS knew about relegation, the national team would do better - so this will obviously end with winning the league and World Cup. Anyway, another eight games and pretending the Declaration Writers, as will be this team’s nickname, win all four at home and grab something like a win and a draw or four draws away, that adds up to 38 games played and 45 points.

Congrats! The best conceivable outcome based on something that’s not scientific at all and isn’t modeled on a computer or video game (unless you count my brain) is that the United States of America as an EPL team would be Newcastle or Bournemouth. And that’s with a lot of heavy lifting being done by extreme generosity and optimism - and pressing, lot’s of pressing. Up the Johnny Appleseedses!