Eight years on: Who starts for the USMNT at 2026 World Cup?

5 Comments

Imagine the year is 2026. The U.S. Men’s National Team is in the World Cup final. This is all hypothetical of course. But, who starts?

[ MORE: How 2026 World Cup was won by the United Bid ]

Wednesday’s vote to hand the United bid (Canada, Mexico and the United States) the World Cup has those in North America jubilant.

It may not take the sting out of the USMNT’s failure to reach Russia this summer, but it does give those that support the Stars and Stripes hope for the future.

Pro Soccer Talk takes a quick look at who could potentially start for the U.S. in 2026, with a number of bright, young stars aligning for the Yanks.


SQUAD BREAKDOWN

Zack Steffen has quickly become one of the top goalkeepers in Major League Soccer at the age of 23, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t have moved on to a top-tier European side by 2026. He could face some competition from other youngsters like Ethan Horvath or Jonathan Klinsmann, but things are shaping up for him to be the starter in net for many years to come.

Defensively, this is going to be a very strong unit, not to mention athletic. Matt Miazga and Erik Palmer-Brown could form a partnership for the next decade in the center of defense between the former’s size and the latter’s pace. Out wide, a pair of players playing in England and Spain, respectively, with Antonee Robinson and Shaq Moore will give the Americans two quality two-way players that can both defend and help in the attack.

It’s weird to think about life after Michael Bradley, but the U.S. has two studs in the midfield that will quickly change the perception of the nation. Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie will hold down the fort in front of the back four, with Adams being the wildcard because he simply doesn’t stop running. Ever.

Christian Pulisic will have already gone to Real Madrid and Barcelona and become a Champions League winner by this point. (Yes, maybe a bit too lofty on the expectations, but this is my dream.) Anyway, he’s a given. Andrew Carleton hasn’t gotten consistent time with Atlanta just yet due to the club’s massive amounts of attacking talent, but he’ll likely be in Europe as well by 2026. Then, PSG star Tim Weah will have the long-departed Neymar’s role of breaking down back lines and scoring 30 goals a year in Ligue 1.

Last, but not least, Josh Sargent will become the new Clint Dempsey/Jozy Altidore/Brian McBride hybrid that the U.S. has desperately needed up top. He’s fast. He’s strong. Dare we say, he’s used Werder Bremen as a stepping stone to Bayern Munich? Why not? He has star potential written all over him.

USMNT Projected XI 2026/Matt Reed

Who would have made USMNT squad for 2018 World Cup?

Getty Images
3 Comments

There have been plenty of moments along the way which have made us all say: “damn, I can’t believe the U.S. aren’t at the World Cup…”

Another of those moments arrived this week.

On June 4 the final 23-man rosters for all 32 nations who qualified for the 2018 World Cup were announced.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Of course, the U.S. men’s national team didn’t submit a squad because, as we all know, they didn’t qualify for the tournament.

But with the USMNT not at a World Cup for the first time since 1986, who would’ve been heading to Russia this summer had Bruce Arena (he would’ve likely stayed on if they had qualified) had the chance to lead the Stars and Stripes?

Below is a projected 23-man squad had the U.S. qualified, taking into account the several players who were mainstays of Arena’s and young emerging talents who seem to have peaked at the right time.

Remember: this is a squad of who I think would have been included in the USA’s 23-man roster under Arena. Not the actual squad I would have selected…


JPW’s projected USA 2018 World Cup squad

Goalkeepers (3)
Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids, MLS)
Brad Guzan (Atlanta United, MLS
Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake, MLS)

Defenders (8)
DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United, Premier League)
Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, Championship)
John Brooks (Wolfsburg, Bundesliga)
Tim Ream (Fulham, Premier League)
Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City, MLS)
Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca, Liga MX)
Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna, Liga MX)
DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo, MLS)

Midfielders (7)
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC, MLS)
Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union, MLS)
Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas, MLS)
Paul Arriola (D.C. United, MLS)
Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire, MLS)
Weston McKennie (FC Schalke, Bundesliga)
Darlington Nagbe(Atlanta United, MLS)

Forwards (5)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC, MLS)
Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders, MLS)
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga)
Bobby Wood (Hamburg, 2. Bundesliga)
Timothy Weah (Paris Saint-Germain, Ligue 1)

Sarachan: Bradley, Altidore, others should be part of next cycle

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
2 Comments

United States men’s national team coach Dave Sarachan is hoping to stay on with the team once a permanent manager is appointed, and hopes he’s not the only holdover from the previous set-up.

Bruce Arena’s former assistant is unbeaten as interim boss following a 3-0 defeat of Bolivia on Monday, one achieved with a very young team and goals from Tim Weah, Walker Zimmerman, and Josh Sargent.

[ USMNT-BOLIVIA: Player ratings | 3 things ]

The Yanks added Bobby Wood, DeAndre Yedlin, and five others for the next week’s matches in Europe. And those familiar names likely won’t be the only ones once a new cycle of World Cup qualifying resumes for the USMNT.

Here’s Sarachan, speaking to Yahoo before Monday’s friendly.

“Guys like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, and I could name a few others, will absolutely still be in the mix,” he says. “They’ve been unfairly criticized. Leaving them out for these games is not a reflection of [whether] I feel they’re going to be a part of the next cycle.”

While both Bradley and Altidore have taken a lot of grief for the USMNT’s failure to qualify for Russia, some deserved, there should be little question their experience and expertise is more than enough to keep them in the picture.

It’s simply a matter of whether they can accept the idea of not being automatic starters if Josh Sargent, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Tim Weah continue to track as top young players.

As for Sarachan, he’s done an admirable job in a trying position so far. The only minor qualms with his work involve some missed opportunities to cap some called-up young players late in previous friendlies, but he had no problems achieving that objective on Monday.

Given how the players have reacted to him, it’d be wise to keep Sarachan involved in some capacity. Heck, you never know when you’ll need an interim boss again (I know, I know…).

Report: Toronto to send Giovinco to Tigres for Valencia, cash

Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
2 Comments

An Mexican site reports that Tigres UANL is ready to send Enner Valencia and cash to Toronto FC to land Sebastian Giovinco.

Normally that’s seem a bit wild for TFC to send their perennial MLS MVP candidate packing, but the club has been hesitant to meet Giovinco’s terms on a new contract.

[ MORE: PL Manager Power Rankings ]

And Valencia is nearly three years younger and a bit bigger than Giovinco.

Valencia scored in bunches for Tigres after arriving from West Ham, scoring nine goals with an assist in 16 Apertura matches including three multi-goal games. He then saw his numbers dip to two goals and three assists in 11 Clausura appearances.

Giovinco, meanwhile, has six goals and six assists in 15 matches between MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League.

It would be a significant risk for TFC, though the idea of pairing up Enner Valencia and Jozy Altidore is a physical nightmare for MLS defenses.

Ryan Telfer lifts Toronto FC past Orlando City, 2-1

Twitter/@torontofc
Leave a comment

TORONTO (AP) Ryan Telfer scored on a volley in the 87th minute to give Toronto FC a 2-1 victory over Orlando City on Friday night.

{ MORE: Tim Ream talks outstanding Fulham season with PST ]

Auro sent a long cross over the Orlando goal, and Telfer hammered the ball home for his first goal in four MLS starts.

Jay Chapman opened the scoring for Toronto (3-6-1) in the 63rd minute, and appeared to make it 2-0 in 72nd, but substitute Tosaint Ricketts’s goal was ruled offside after a late flag.

Cristian Higuita tied it for Orlando City (6-4-1) in the 73rd minute. He fired a shot past Alex Bono from just outside the penalty box.

Toronto played without star strikers Sebastian Giovinco (suspension) and Jozy Altidore (foot).