Bruce's Belly has a terrific post up about the potential pitfalls of "experience." I'm not sure that's the most accurate word for it, but basically his point is that sometimes players subconsciously put arbitrary limits on their abilities. Players get accustomed to their expected role and are no longer capable of taking the imaginative leap necessary to attempt the audacious--a diving header, a 30-yard volley, a back-heel pass.
I think this theory gets to my problem with Josh Wolff. You can say a lot of nice things about him as a player. And they're all true. Wolff is quick and skilled on the ball. He consistently puts himself in good spots on the field. His timing on runs is impeccable.
So why am I so adamant that he doesn't belong on the national team? Or at least not in the starting lineup? It's his lack of hunger, imagination, and audacity. Wolff plays not to make mistakes. He plays scared. He plays like he's trying to impress a premiership coach, not like he's willing to sacrifice sight in one or both eyes to get the ball into the back of the net.
The beauty of the national team under Bruce Arena is that they have no fear. They have an arrogance about them, a swagger. They're not going to bow down before the traditional soccer powers. Four years ago when the U.S. squad walked out on the field against Portugal (picked by many to win the whole tournament), they were probably the only 11 people on the planet who truly believed that they would triumph in that game.
Wolff doesn't share that fearlesness. Or at least he doesn't play like it. That's why he shouldn't be on the team.