Road to 2014: The Brazil Board 

March, 30, 2011

We don't mind looking stupid. And predicting the starting U.S. lineup for the 2014 World Cup is an exercise in stupidity. To begin with, we don't know whether the Yanks will even be in Brazil. They must endure CONCACAF's grueling two-year qualification process. Moreover, soccer players often have the career lifespan of Lepidoptera; after a long stage in a developmental cocoon, many of them hatch, look spectacular -- and then expire.

Nonetheless, we're excited to take some chances and play some chalk by doing a regular Brazil 2014 lineup, starting with today's post. Half the fun of national-team reporting is speculating on who will be up and who will be down in future tournaments. So speculate we will.

We do know this: For successful World Cup teams, experience is great -- and this squad still belongs to Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan -- but fresh legs are vital. Italy found out how staying with veterans too long leads to national disgrace. (Had they only taken Giuseppe Rossi, it may have turned out differently.) Conversely, in early 2007, few could have predicted that Robbie Findley and Jozy Altidore would be starters at South Africa 2010, and that Eddie Johnson wouldn't make the roster.

We also know this: Bob Bradley, contrary to frequent media portrayals of him as a dogged loyalist, actually throws a lot of players into his mix -- more than 90 in the previous WC qualifying cycle. Over the next few years, we too expect to throw a lot of names into our mix, including Mixx. But for the most part, we'll base our lineup on what's happening now (which, as it happens, was always one of our favorite shows).

We hope our regular take on 2014 will be one of your favorites.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.