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USMNT make roster changes for Ireland, France friendlies

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The U.S. men’s national team has added 10 players and released seven for its friendly games at the Republic of Ireland and France over the next week.

[ MORE: USMNT beat Bolivia ]

Interim head coach Dave Sarachan saw a young USMNT side batter Bolivia 3-0 in Philadelphia on Monday but he has made plenty of changes, as expected, with superstar Christian Pulisic among those left out of the squad for the marquee friendlies in Dublin and Lyon.

Goalkeepers Zack Steffen and William Yarbrough have been added, while defenders Shaq Moore, Tim Parker and DeAndre Yedlin are all in, plus midfielders Tyler Adams, Luca de la Torre, Kenny Saief and Wil Trapp and forward Bobby Wood have been called up.

Pulisic heads the list of those released from national team duty with Alex Bono, Alejandro Guido, Lynden Gooch, Ethan Horvath, Matt Olosunde and Walker Zimmerman joining him.

Despite the roster changes this is still a very youthful USMNT side with an average age of just over 23. Ireland and France will be a great step up in competition as Bolivia were far from full strength.

With Sarachan not expected to stay in charge beyond these two friendly games, it may also be a final chance for him to stake his claim for the job on a permanent basis as he’s yet to lose in four outings as USMNT coach.

Below is the new squad in full.


USMNT roster for games v Ireland, France (Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bill Hamid (Midtjylland/DEN; 5/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 2/0), William Yarbrough (Club León/MEX; 3/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG; 2/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 15/1), Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 5/1), Shaq Moore (Levante/ESP; 0/0), Erik Palmer-Brown (Manchester City/ENG; 1/0), Tim Parker (New York Red Bulls; 0/0), Antonee Robinson (Everton/ENG; 1/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 17/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 50/0)

MIDFIELDERS (10): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 3/0), Joe Corona (Club America/MEX; 21/3), Luca de la Torre (Fulham/ENG; 0/0) Julian Green (Stuttgart/GER; 9/3), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 2/1), Keaton Parks (Benfica/POR; 1/0), Rubio Rubin (Club Tijuana/MEX; 6/0), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 2/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 4/0), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 2/1)

FORWARDS (3): Andrija Novakovich (Reading/ENG; 2/0), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 1/1), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER; 37/11)

Player ratings: USMNT 3-0 Bolivia

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It’s worth noting that the young United States men’s national team that tangled with Bolivia on Monday in Pennsylvania was also facing an untested Bolivia squad which doesn’t do a ton at full strength.

[ WATCH: Zimmerman scores opener | 3 things ]

But there’s still much to be excited about, relatively speaking, as the USMNT kicked off a trio of friendlies with a win on Monday.

Six players earned their first United States caps. They are tagged with asterisks*.

Starting XI

Alex Bono* — 6 — No fault in his rating. Had nothing to do. At times had to feel like he was back at Empire United, playing a tournament game against also-rans.

Eric Lichaj (Off 74′) — 7 — Didn’t have to do much, but positionally sound as expected for the Nottingham Forest man.

Walker Zimmerman —  8 — A great goal to cap a solid if non-demanding 90.

Erik Palmer-Brown* — 7 — Barely more to do than his goalkeeper.

Antonee Robinson* — 9 — I’m not even sure what to do with an American left back handling his business like a possible 10-year answer. WHAT DO I DO, AMERICA?

Weston McKennie — 7 — He’s nearly as important a piece to the USMNT set-up as Pulisic. Today wasn’t a day to expect him to show what he’s good at — breaking up danger and quickly setting the stage for possession and/or attack.

Tim Weah (Off 61′) — 8 —Almost as dangerous as Sargent, the PSG youngster rebounded from an early leg injury to bag a goal in his second USMNT appearance.

Joe Corona (Off 61′) — 7 — Needed to be a steady veteran presence and was, wisely choosing when to adventure and when to stay safe.

Christian Pulisic (Off 89′) — 6 — By no means bad, but in dire need of a deserved offseason. Remains the future of the United States men’s national team.

Rubio Rubin (Off 74′) — 6 — Just fine. Active and adequate, but we can’t give out all 7s and better.

Josh Sargent* (Off 61′) — 8 — Became the fourth-youngest goal scorer in USMNT history when he capitalized on a keeper error, and was largely a threat for the duration of his debut.

Subs

Andriya Novakovich (On 61′) — 7 — The Telstar man again looked comfortable as he looks to keep his USMNT train on the right high-speed tracks.

Julian Green (On 61′) — 7 — Perfectly fine, but the game was largely over when he entered the fray. Great dribble and through ball to set up Villafana for a “shoulda” assist.

Keaton Parks* (On 61′) — 7 — The best performance of any sub, with apologies to Novakovich. Shocking that a 20-year-old midfielder of his skill and stature eluded the entire national team set-up until this stage of his career.

Matthew Olosunde* (On 74′) — N/A — The Manchester United prospect from the Mooch Soccer project makes his debut.

Lynden Gooch (On 74′) — N/A — Probably pleased to take a step up from the squad quality at Sunderland, but should’ve had a goal in stoppage time.

Jorge Villafana (On 89′) — N/A — Sueno gets a cameo for cap No. 17, and makes a pinpoint cross Gooch should’ve finished in stoppage time.

USMNT 3-0 Bolivia: U.S. kids pummel visiting CONMEBOL side

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The average age of the United States starting eleven on Monday night was under 23 years old. It showed at times, but ultimately it did not matter.

[ MORE: Player ratings | 3 things ]

Walker Zimmerman, Josh Sargent, and Tim Weah all grabbed their first international goals – including debut strikes for the latter two – as the United States clobbered a hapless Bolivia side 3-0. The visitors, also playing a number of young prospects, offered as little competition and opposition as comprehensively possible, with the U.S. pummeling their leaky high line.

The United States looked the more dangerous side in the opening 10 minutes, attacking down the left with a host of brilliant touches to spring white jerseys sprinting down the touchline unmarked. The best early chance came in the 10th minute as Rubio Rubin cut a sparkling through ball from the midline to spring Tim Weah completely unmarked one-on-one with Guillermo Viscarra, but the Bolivian goalkeeper stood strong to make the save and deny the US the opening goal.

The hosts were vicious in the final attacking half, pushing forward to challenge the Bolivian back line on the ball. In the 15th minute, Weston McKennie whiffed on a good shooting chance at the top of the box, and the ensuing cross was blocked hoping to give the U.S. a second chance on net.

[ MORE: 3 Things We Learned from 3-0 win over Bolivia ]

Weah went down appearing to need a substitute, but he came back on and was involved again down the attacking end almost immediately, playing a one-two with Josh Sargent that resulted in a shot for the latter, but it was blocked out of play. The U.S. attack often featured slick one-touch passing at the top of the box, although occasionally there were a few too many passes which allowed the defense to step in and break things up.

On 33 minutes, Weah and Sargent connected together again, but Sargent’s shot was blocked just wide. The pair appeared to be on the same page, able to predict each other’s movements on a number of occasions. The opening goal was coming, and finally it was delivered, albeit by an unlikely source in defender Walker Zimmerman. Off a 38th minute corner, Walker Zimmerman rose higher than his defender Ronald Raldes and powered a strong header into the top-right corner. The goal is the LAFC defender’s first international strike in his third international cap.

McKennie had a half-chance near the penalty spot just two ticks before halftime, but his effort was blocked as he looked to get it through traffic.

[ MORE: Player ratings from 3-0 win over Bolivia ]

After the break, the U.S. continued to hold the bunk of the dangerous possession, but the second goal came from a bad mistake at the back with Bolivia on the ball. With Bolivia making a change between the sticks at halftime, substitute Carlos Lampe made an ill-advised pass attempting to lift the ball over Sargent. The 18-year-old striker used his flexibility to pick the ball out of the air, and finished through the legs of a charging Lampe once he settled in the box. Sargent’s goal makes him the second-youngest debutant goalscorer in U.S. Soccer history, behind just Juan Agudelo in 2011.

The floodgates opened up just before the hour mark as Weah grabbed his own debut goal. Antonee Robinson delivered a cross to the doorstep from the left, and Weah snuck in between the central defenders completely unmarked to poke home their third goal and making it look easy.

As the game wound down, Dave Sarachan handed appearances to Benfica prospect Keaton Parks, Stuttgart winger Julian Green, Reading striker Andrija Novakovich, Stoke City’s Lynden Gooch, Manchester United prospect Matt Olosunde.

These players will wish they were warming up for a World Cup in under a month, but considering the hand they’ve been dealt, so far the future looks quite bright.

U.S. players in the 2017-18 Premier League

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This post used to be more fun.

[ RECAP: Villa 0-0 (1-0 agg.) Boro ]

The United States only had three players hit Premier League pitches for more than a single match this season, and only two Americans are alive for promotion from the Championship (though well-traveled goalkeeper Chris Konopka signed a short-term deal late in Cardiff City’s promotion campaign).

Geoff Cameron
Stoke City

The soon-to-be 33-year-old had to be frustrated when his return from a concussion ended up with a stint on the bench under new coach Paul Lambert that cost him a chance to keep the Potters in the Premier League. Cameron played 20 league matches and one FA Cup match, spending time at center back, center mid, right back, and even a little more advanced as a right mid. Stoke was 3W-6D-8L when Cameron did not play, about the same pace as when he was available, but it notably earned points in four of six matches where he featured at center back (2-2-2). It seems likely he’ll move on this summer.

Cameron Carter-Vickers
Tottenham Hotspur

Went on loan to Sheffield United and then Ipswich Town, where he played regularly at center back. Still doesn’t seem on track to get in Mauricio Pochettino‘s mix, and another loan or permanent transfer feels on the horizon.

Emerson Hyndman
Bournemouth

The 22-year-old center mid played just four times in all comps for the Cherries, but Eddie Howe handed him a start in Bournemouth’s season finale. The Cherries won 2-1, though both goals came after he left the match. A candidate for transfer or loan next season.

Antonee Robinson
Everton

Went on loan to Bolton, where he managed four assists in substantial time at left back and left mid as the Trotters survived in the Championship. One of the great hopes to solve the long-held American need at left back.

Danny Williams
Huddersfield Town

There was a third very impactful American in the Premier League this year, and Huddersfield Town will be thankful that David Wagner brought fellow German-American international Williams to Town.

The 29-year-old played 20 league games and three Cup games with the Terriers, and was noticeably strong in his first season of top flight English football. Granted two of the wins came in substitute appearances, one at right back, but the center mid was good.

Terriers w/ Williams:  7W-5D-10L
Terriers w/o Williams: 2W-5D-9L

DeAndre Yedlin
Newcastle United

Soon to be 25, Yedlin had a strong return to the Premier League. The right back picked up two assists in 34 matches as Rafa Benitez really improved the American’s defensive acumen. Benitez would probably like to bring in better competition for Yedlin at right back, but the former Seattle Sounder should have every opportunity to continue to play a sizable role at St. James’ Park.

Elsewhere in England
Mix Diskerud – Man City (on loan at Goteborg)
Luca de la Torre – Fulham
Lynden Gooch – Sunderland
Duane Holmes – Scunthorpe United
Eric Lichaj – Nottingham Forest
Brendan Moore – Rochdale
Tim Ream – Fulham
Gedion Zelalem – Arsenal

So… how could the USMNT line up at its next tournament?

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The United States men’s national team has one goal over the next 18 months since they decided to take a break from their regular World Cup participation.

That goal? Qualify for the 2021 Confederations Cup in Qatar*.

[ MORE: Mourinho rips forwards ]

(Insert next full-time coach’s name here)’s Yanks have not one but two paths to that appetizer for the 2022 World Cup. As the 2016 Gold Cup champions, they’ve guaranteed at worst a place in the 2020 CONCACAF Cup against the 2019 Gold Cup winner.

Or, and follow me here, they could win the 2019 Gold Cup and eliminate such a CONCACAF Cup.

Being CONCACAF, any number of things could happen during the tournament, but we learned something when the U.S. was not invited to the 2019 Copa America: Without a second tournament, Mexico, the U.S., Costa Rica, and friends will have access to their A-plus group of players should they desire to treat the competition seriously.

For the United States and (insert next full-time coach’s name here), it would be embarrassing to do anything less in the run-up to the return of World Cup qualifying the following Fall (though an expanded field could make qualifying for that tournament much closer to “just show up for a third of your games.”).

What will the United States’ top lineup look like come next summer? Well, the next 10-12 friendlies will tell us something, but plenty is up in the air. Assuming health, there are very few certainties in the group. Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, DeAndre Yedlin, and John Brooks are going and probably starting; Matt Miazga and Tyler Adams also seem close to locks.

Player pool (Ages come June 2019 in parenthesis)

Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid (28), Zack Steffen (24), Alex Bono (25), Jesse Gonzalez (24), Ethan Horvath (24), Jonathan Klinsmann (22), Matt Turner (24).

Defenders: Brooks (26), Yedlin (25), Miazga (23), Shaq Moore (22), Cameron Carter-Vickers (21), Erik Palmer-Brown (22), Auston Trusty (20), Tim Parker (26), Walker Zimmerman (26), Danilo Acosta (21), Geoff Cameron (33), Steve Birnbaum (28), Timmy Chandler (29), Justen Glad (22), Ben Sweat (28), Nick Lima (24), Reggie Cannon (20), Antonee Robinson (21), Aaron Long (26), Keegan Rosenberry (25).

Midfielders: Adams (20), McKennie (20), Marky Delgado (24), Kenny Saief (25), Michael Bradley (31), Paul Arriola (24), Sean Davis (26), Jacori Hayes (23), Brooks Lennon (21), Cristian Roldan (24), Darlington Nagbe (28), Wil Trapp (26), Lynden Gooch (23), Danny Williams (30), Kellyn Acosta (23), Kelyn Rowe (27), Andrew Carleton (18), Luca de la Torre (21), Ale Bedoya (32), Sebastian Lletget (26).

Forwards: Pulisic (20), Tim Weah (19), Bobby Wood (26), Andrija Novakovich (22), Gyasi Zardes (27), Jordan Morris (24), Josh Sargent (19), Jozy Altidore (29), Clint Dempsey (36), Aron Johannsson (28), Terrence Boyd (28), Juan Agudelo (28).

Pick your 23. Here’s our best guess — GK: Steffen, Horvath, Klinsmann. DEF: Brooks, Miazga, Carter-Vickers, Cameron, Chandler, Yedlin, Moore, Robinson. MID: Adams, McKennie, Delgado, Bradley, Roldan, Williams, K. Acosta, Saief. FWD: Pulisic, Wood, Altidore, Sargent.

And an XI: I think the captain Bradley is going to have to play his way out of his job at CM (unless his TFC transition to CB become full-time), so we won’t always see McKennie and Adams together is the center of the park. Robinson gets the left back gig unless Danilo Acosta makes great strides or the new coach thinks he can play Moore or Nick Lima on the other side of the pitch. We’ll go hybrid 4-3-3/4-5-1, though Pulisic could well get every chance to be a No. 10 (and who knows where he’ll be playing next season in club ball).

Steffen

Yedlin — Brooks — Miazga — Robinson

McKennie — Bradley — Adams

Pulisic — Altidore — Saief

*-They still could move the 2021 Confederations Cup and 2022 World Cup from Qatar. It’s really not too late.