The last time we saw the United States U-23 squad, the unit Andi Herzog will lead into Olympic qualifying next month, the Yanks were impressing at the Toulon Tournament.
After finishing second in its group thanks to a 3-1 win over the Netherlands, Herzog’s Yanks toppled England’s U-20 team in the third-place playoff.
Now they head to Deepdale Stadium to face England’s U-21 side, one with a lot more firepower.
That said, the States’ roster will be a lot better, too. Out of the mix from the Toulon side are goalkeepers Charlie Horton and Tyler Miller, defenders Tyler Turner, Sam Strong and Jalen Robinson, midfielders Fatai Alashe and Daniel Metzger, and strikers Julian Green, Alfred Koroma Shams and Jordan Morris.
Into the fold? At defense, Spurs’ Cameron Carter-Vickers — who will square off with a few fellow White Hart Lane residents — joins the back line with Montreal’s Eric Miller, and RBNY’s Matt Miazga.
Molde standout Ethan Horvath and Freiburg backstop Zack Steffen join up between the sticks. Fulham’s Emerson Hyndman is back, joined by Rangers mid Gedion Zelalem, MLS standouts Matt Polster and Wil Trapp, and Chesterfield’s Gboly Ariyibi. Sion’s Maki Tall and Utrecht’s Rubio Rubin also hit the scene.
We’ve gone into England’s bunch already, but here’s a bit of a refresher as to which Premier League vets will meet the Yanks: Spurs’ Eric Dier, Norwich City’s Nathan Redmond, Liverpool’s Jordon Ibe and Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek are included in the squad for Thursday’s 2:45 p.m. ET match.
Only Sunderland keeper Jordan Watford, Brighton keeper Christian Walton, Wolves defender Kourtney Hause, Southampton back Jack Stephens, Sunderland midfielder Duncan Watmore, Manchester United striker James Wilson and Arsenal forward Chuba Akpom return from the summer encounter.
Aside from the age advantage, the States will have more continuity on its side heading into the friendly. And the quality of player selected is comparable to England to say the least.
Both teams will have a lot of creativity in the midfield, and where Gareth Southgate uses Eric Dier will go a long way in determining who has more steel in the midfield. And will the States’ backs be able to hang with Ibe and Redmond?
Should be a heck of a friendly at Preston North End. We’ll peg it for a 2-2 draw.