NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Coach Dave Sarachan is not committing to when or how veterans such as Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore will be brought in again for the U.S. roster.
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The coach said Wednesday that he spoke recently with Bradley, one of two Americans to play every minute of the last two World Cups for the U.S. Sarachan said he’s made it clear in the months he’s been in charge that the focus is to look at younger players for a team that missed this year’s World Cup.
“We’re not discounting the value of veteran leadership, and Michael falls into that category,” said Sarachan, whose contract was extended in June through the rest of this year. “There will be a time, I’m sure, when we’re going to count on those players like Michael to be a part of this. We had a good conversation, and I think he understands where we are.”
Bradley plays with Toronto FC in Major League Soccer but will be 35 when the U.S. hopes to be back in the 2022 World Cup. Altidore was among the veterans not invited to a January training camp despite his 41 goals in 110 appearances with the national team. Fabian Johnson is another veteran not likely to be brought in. John Brooks, 25, probably will be brought in at some point.
“If he’s healthy, that’s been an issue, (Brooks) would have a little bit more of an opportunity in the near future to be a part of some rosters,” Sarachan said.
The U.S. will play its next competitive match in June in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The Americans have six exhibitions starting Sept. 7 against Brazil at East Rutherford, New Jersey, and the Brazilians are bringing veterans like Neymar and Robert Firmino . The Americans also play Colombia on Oct. 11 at Tampa, Florida; England on Nov. 15 at London; and Italy on Nov. 20 at a site to be determined.
For now, the focus is on youth with 18 players having made their debuts in six matches, including 10 age-eligible for the 2020 Olympics. Sarachan said Christian Pulisic, 19, will be on the U.S. roster Sept. 11 when the Americans play Mexico in a friendly in Nashville, Tennessee. Pulisic last played for the U.S. in May.
The roster for the first two games also should feature Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Matt Miazga. Sarachan said defender DeAndre Yedlin also should be available if he gets through this week after sustaining a right knee injury earlier this month playing for Newcastle in the English Premier League.
Sarachan, who took over as interim coach when Bruce Arena quit last October after the Americans failed to qualify for the World Cup, has led the U.S. to two wins (Paraguay and Bolivia), one loss (Ireland) and three ties (Portugal, Bosnia-Herzogovina and France ). A search for a fulltime coach will be lead by former U.S. midfielder Earnie Stewart, who started as general manager officially Aug. 1.
For now, Sarachan said the roster is a work in progress.
“I would say that the roster, if you followed our team over the last six friendlies, will be composed pretty similarly to what we’ve done in the past,” Sarachan said. “But I feel very confident that the group we’re going to bring will be very competitive.”