Yesterday the USMNT played against Portugal in an International Friendly on the Iberian Peninsula, and drew to an inconclusive 1-1 final.
This was the team’s first game after not qualifying for the World Cup. They headed across the pond with neither the majority of their starters, nor a permanent head coach. Dave Sarachan was the stand-in for the U.S. team, and he didn’t do too badly. Having been Bruce Arena’s assistant coach for a number of years, a fresh face might have done the trick.
But that’s not who we should be talking about. Not at all. Granted, I’ll preface all of this with the knowledge that Portugal came with their C-squad, with only Pepe (old man now, and my least favorite player in the world), Nelson Semedo and Bruma as arguable starters.
On the U.S. end though, we saw some fresh young talent. The players to have been regular USMNT starters in the last 12 months were Deandre Yedlin and Agudelo, and he only played roughly 60 minutes before being subbed off by Lyndon Gooch.
But we got to see some young talent, who came off of a u17 World Cup Quarterfinal run from earlier this fall, falling to England – the eventual winners. Eight starters were age 24 and under: (24) Agudelo, Brooks, Yedlin, (22) Acosta, Miazga, Horvath, (19) McKennie, (18) Adams.
It was interesting to see these two teams play one another, and from the first half I actually saw glimpses of great play from a U.S. team who I would have thought was still hiding in a cave somewhere weeping about impending replacement.
But they didn’t! And WESTON MCKENNIE SCORED! In an albeit horrible showing of defending, the U.S., led by many of the u17 players, scored a beautiful goal. They actually had glimpses of their 2014-selves. Even though almost none of these players (I think all) were not on that team.
What I mean to say, is that through all the shit we’ve had to sift through in the past couple weeks, it was refreshing to see a bunch of young lads out there playing their hearts out, as though it mattered to someone other than themselves.
And if I’m being honest, this should matter to others. The U.S. in recent years has had a pretty good division of young talent, only to see them squander professional experience. Perfect example? Freddy Adu. He’s out of contract somewhere in Tampa playing non-professional now.
We now have a number of these u17 players on European teams, including some big name clubs like Chelsea, Tottenham, Schalke and obviously Dortmund. That means real potential.
This obviously means good things for the future, as we saw a number of these youngsters playing while on breaks from their European clubs. McKennie, who is freaking 19, is becoming a regular starter for FC Schalke in the Bundesliga.
I guess if not for Horvath’s HORRIBLE slip-up in goal, the U.S. could have won. But nonetheless it was great to see a team come out and do something good after such a disappointing qualifier. Gives me hope that we might actually make the 2022 World Cup.
And now I just got sad again that we won’t be in the World Cup. Fuck.
Read Pulisic’s article on the matter, after staying silent for a few weeks, it’s fantastically written.