Brave USMNT youngsters show glimpse of ‘exciting future’

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The USMNT youngsters had fun against Wales. We could all see that. Tricks and flicks were plentiful as the starting lineup with an average age of 22 showed no fear.

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A 0-0 draw in Swansea against a weakened Wales side doesn’t tell the whole story. At all. USMNT fans will be full of confidence after watching this. The had 61 percent of the ball, outshot Wales and looked the more likely team to win.

There have been a lot of low moments for the USMNT over the last few years but having teenagers like Yunus Musah and Gio Reyna impressing in attack, plus Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams bossing the midfield, it made watching the U.S. men’s national team fun again.

Asked about the swagger the USMNT played with, Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie couldn’t hide his delight at playing alongside talents being developed at Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, Valencia and other top European clubs.

“I don’t even know what I was trying to do… No, I’m just playing,” McKennie joked. “It’s always fun coming in. A footballer can recognize someone that can play. A footballer can recognize what someone is good at and what someone is not good at. I think we all know that we like to play, we like to combine and we like to make those small touches and passes, and whenever you get into that type of confidence, that you can play with your guys, it brings out the confidence in yourself and your body.

“Before the game, you kind of go into autopilot and that is when you play at your best. I think a lot of the guys felt the comfortability with the other players on the field and we enjoyed it, we had fun. In the past we didn’t have so much of the flair and the ‘tiki-taka’ type I guess, so it was just fun. I think a lot of guys had fun being out there. It would have been better had we won the game, but it is a good stepping stone and a good start after not being together for a whole year.”

Berhalter lined the USMNT up in a 4-2-3-1 system with Sebastian Lletget as the false nine and Reyna, Musah and Konrad de la Fuente rotating underneath him. With Christian Pulisic (injured) and Josh Sargent (unavailable) still to come into that attacking unit, plus Gyasi Zardes, Jozy Altidore and Josh Morris as other forward options, this side will be fun to watch in the future.

But it wasn’t just about the attacking unit. From Sergino Dest and Gio Reyna linking up on the right to Antonee Robinson doing his best to get forward down the left, the USMNT were positive throughout. There is plenty of room for improvement and there is a lot of naivety in this team, but the excitement levels around the USMNT hasn’t been this high for a long, long time.

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To back up that positivity and creativity, McKennie and Adams were dominant in central midfield as they played together for the USMNT for the first time since March 2019. McKennie and Adams are basically veterans of this side now and they’re 22 and 21 years old respectively.

ProSoccerTalk asked RB Lepizig midfielder Adams about the future for this young side and if the exciting style of play can stick around.

“I would say it is definitely a very exciting future,” Adams said. “You have a lot of different players within the team, which is what really makes us exciting. You don’t have many similar players where you say ‘this person is good at this but this person is also good at this.’ We have guys who have so many different qualities. When you can add all of those different qualities into one team and continue to build that chemistry I think you’re going to see us gel really well together.”

The midfield duo of McKennie and Adams gelled really well with 17-year-old Musah, who has yet to commit his future to the USMNT with England wanting him to stick with them.

His positivity on and off the ball summed up what fans of the U.S. men’s national team can be excited about moving forward.

“For Yunus [Musah], that positivity and how well we gel off the field, it shows on the field because we are confident in each other’s abilities and we have each others’ backs,” Adams said. “We are all very young and when you have a bunch of young guys who can play with confidence in a young side, that helps them a lot. You don’t necessarily have a veteran that you’re scared of if you make a mistake that he’s going to get on you. Instead, if Yunus makes a mistake, I will just tell him to keep going and not be afraid to take chances. That’s what he did and all of us are going to continue to develop in the right direction.”

The direction the USMNT is heading in is definitely an exciting one.