Timely interventions from center backs and a hot goalkeeper helped the United States men’s national team keep damage down to 2-0 in its loss to Brazil on Friday in New Jersey, and the Yanks looked far less overwhelmed than the 4-1 hammering at the hands of Selecao three years ago to this morning.
The player ratings that night were ugly; Brad Guzan was a veteran struggling between the sticks, and the back line was shielded poorly by Ale Bedoya, Jermaine Jones, and Michael Bradley. The lone goal came via Danny Williams, and the silver lining was the then-Reading man and young DeAndre Yedlin.
Of course part of that was down to Jurgen Klinsmann figuring it was a good time to trot out a back four of Tim Ream, Ventura Alvarado, Michael Orozco, and Geoff Cameron (lot of center backs, considering Yedlin was deployed at right mid). And give Dave Sarachan plenty of credit for doing God’s work without much hope of being named full-time boss. This is proper guardianship of a program.
Only two starters from that night in 2015 saw time on Friday: Yedlin and Gyasi Zardes. With all due respect to Zardes, Yedlin’s the one who matters to this discussion. He’s become a key part of a Premier League outfit, though at the time he was a bit player in Europe.
Had the Yanks been looking for results on Friday, they would’ve suited up Bradley and Altidore. They would’ve begged Cameron to come, asked Williams and Bedoya to do a job or two.
It can be difficult to keep the USMNT’s present in focus given the gigantic cluster that was failing to qualify for Russia and then failing to accept responsibility for said failure, but the future is genuinely bright.
There’s no guarantee that players will continue to develop, and the global reach of technology has meant that many countries have sent more prospects to bigger clubs, there is absolutely no denying that the potential of the USMNT right now is as high as its been since the 2001 U-20 World Cup roster of Donovan, Onyewu, and Beasley.
But look at the roster, even beyond Pulisic: Weston McKennie is a regular starter for Schalke at age 19. Teenage mid Tyler Adams is shining for RBNY and looks set to move abroad to the Bundesliga.
Timothy Weah is a factor in the Paris Saint-Germain first team set-up. Matt Miazga‘s early days on loan from Chelsea at Nantes are impressive. The elders at just 25, Yedlin and Brooks are week-in, week-out starters at Newcastle and Wolfsburg.
Also, Josh Sargent didn’t play, but he did play Saturday for Werder Bremen. He scored. Again (And imagine if the powers-that-were didn’t sleep on Jonathan Gonzalez, who the Yanks will see in an El Tri shirt on Tuesday).
This is all without a full-time strategy in the national team program, and at least three principal voices in 18 months. That’s about to be four in 24.
Whether it’s Tata Martino or Gregg Berhalter, Tab Ramos or David Moyes, someone is going to inherit the most promising collection of young American talent, skill, and experience in ages.
If not ever.
Now that’s cool.