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3 Things We Learned from USMNT vs. Bolivia

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The United States pummeled Bolivia in Pennsylvania, and while the incredibly poor level of competition should temper any major talking points, we can still learn plenty from this glittering performance by the youngsters.

[ MORE: Player ratings | Match recap ]

They’re all quite raw, and it showed early and often, even drawing the ire of the head coach at halftime, but it was clear they have the skills to grow and help this team in a big way moving forward.

Josh Sargent and Tim Weah have the potential to be a part of this squad for quite some time

The United States has struggled to replace Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan in recent years. While Christian Pulisic appears to be the new Donovan in someone who plays on the wing but is dangerous in front of goal, they’re still searching for a prolific target man in front of goal. Josh Sargent appears to have all the instincts to be that guy. While there’s still a long way to go for the 18-year-old, including making his professional debut at Werder Bremen, he seems to be strong and physical, as well as able to move fluidly and with purpose off the ball.

Weah is an exciting prospect as well, someone with the pace and ball skills to be a great compliment on the opposite of Pulisic. He seemed to be on the same wavelength as Sargent, playing a number of different one-two combinations that nearly resulted in a goal. He also makes excellent runs off the ball, which allowed Rubio Rubin to find him for his best chance on net. These are two guys who appear to be the real deal, albeit against admittedly abysmal competition.

What was missing is very teachable

These kids are young. Really, really young. They seem beyond their age in grasping the attacking flow of Dave Sarachan’s tactics which is a fantastic sign, but the finishing still needs work. Tim Weah, in his first start, had a few early chances that he should have taken, while Josh Sargent was also a little wild in front of net.

[ MORE: Full game recap of 3-0 win over Bolivia ]

The good news is that finishing can be improved, while the soccer IQ that the squad shows is the more difficult part of the game to teach, meaning there is plenty of room for growth with this team.

Dave Sarachan even admitted on the Fox broadcast at halftime coming off the field that the shooting was rushed, and that he might have a chat with a few of the youngsters up there (ie: Weah, Sargent, Rubin, McKennie) about taking their time and developing better shots. While there are plenty of teachable moments from this match despite the dominating performance, what most U.S. fans should take from this game is that anything that appeared to be missing – first and foremost patience and vision in front of goal – is very teachable.

Dave Sarachan may have something with the 4-1-4-1

Interim head coach Dave Sarachan has deployed a 4-1-4-1 in consecutive matches against Paraguay and now Bolivia, with Weston McKennie at the CDM spot, and it’s worked both times. McKennie does a fabulous job protecting the back line, allowing the defenders to stretch and cover wide areas. In a personally signature moment, the 19-year-old bulldozer muscled Leonardo Vaca off the ball, shrugging him to the ground in the 70th minute.

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

With both McKennie and Kellyn Acosta figuring to be in the selection pool for quite some time, this is a system that could be useful down the road. The United States has not had a consistent system to play for a very, very long time following the experimental years of Jurgen Klinsmann.

4. Christian Pulisic is very tired

Bonus! It was very obvious that Christian Pulisic has had an extremely long season and is quite exhausted. He was somewhat influential in the buildup – especially early on – but was not his typical flashy self, and the faded into the background as the game went on, eventually substituted off in the 89th minute. Pulisic is an extremely talented player and there shouldn’t be any concerns about his future, but if there is one bright side to missing the World Cup, it’s that Pulisic gets the summer off, and the 19-year-old desperately needs it after a long, brutal season with Borussia Dortmund where many times he wasn’t at his best.

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.

VIDEO: Zimmerman gives United States the opening goal vs. Bolivia

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The United States has dominated Bolivia through the opening half of play, and while the group up front looked most likely to score, the actual opener came from a relatively unlikely source.

LAFC central defender Walker Zimmerman powered home a header off a set-piece to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead over Bolivia in the 33rd minute. He rose higher than his defender Ronald Raldes to powerfully redirect the ball into the back of the net.

Tim Weah and Josh Sargent were dangerous up front, combining for a number of one-two chances in front of goal. Rubio Rubin was also involved heavily in the build-up, while Joe Corona popped up on a number of occasions and picked up the assist on Zimmerman’s goal after delivering the corner.

Christian Pulisic, on the heels of a long season with Borussia Dortmund, was not particularly sharp in the first half and struggled to see himself involved in any solid chances. Interim boss Dave Sarachan admitted at halftime that the kids were a bit rushed in the final third, shooting early before chances truly developed. Nevertheless, the U.S. was clearly the better side in the opening 45 minutes, and have the lone goal to show for it.

Preview: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadow of World Cup hype

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With the rest of the world’s premier soccer nations gearing up for next month’s World Cup in Russia, the U.S. men’s national team is set to host fellow non-qualifiers Bolivia in a futile friendly at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Penn., on Monday (6:30 p.m. ET), the Yanks’ fourth time out since that infamous night in Trinidad.

[ MORE: Ben Olsen confirms D.C. United’s interest in Wayne Rooney ]

Five days later (Saturday, June 2), they’ll face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, followed by a trip to Lyon, France, to face World Cup-bound Les Bleus (June 9).

Youth movement continues

Once again, the likes of Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard — senior figures for the last decade-plus — are nowhere to be found as Dave Sarachan completes his sentence tenure as interim head coach following Bruce Arena’s resignation in November. Back for the first time is 19-year-old Christian Pulisic, native of nearby Hershey, Penn., who with 20 caps is the joint-most veteran member (Joe Corona) of the squad.

Average age of the 22-man roster: 22.8 years old.

“As I’ve talked about throughout this process, the theme is to offer opportunity to this younger generation of talented players that have potential down the road with the program,” Sarachan said this week. “We’ve had first-time call-ups in every camp since November, and this is another extension of that. We’re going into the Bolivia game with newer faces along with a few familiar players as well.”

[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]

Youngsters forging careers in Europe

The just-completed 2017-18 season was a promising, encouraging one for a number of American youngsters — some not named Pulisic, even — plying their trade for a number of sides around Europe.

22-year-old defender Matt Miazga completed his second season on loan to Vitesse, made 36 appearances between August and May (43 in all competitions), and played a pivotal part in the Eredivisie side qualifying for next season’s Europa League. Come this August, he’ll be hoping to impress Antonio Conte(‘s successor) and win his place in the Chelsea squad.

19-year-old midfielder Weston McKennie made 22 Bundesliga appearances (13 starts), plus another three in the DFB Pokal cup competition, for second-place Schalke. After undergoing surgery for a knee injury in January, McKennie returned in March to reclaim a full-time spot in the gameday squad and a semi-regular place in the starting lineup.

21-year-old forward Andrija Novakovich, another Yank out on loan (from Reading) this season, bagged 21 goals in 37 league appearances for second-division Dutch side Telstar en route to an appearance in the promotion playoffs. Novakovich made his USMNT debut against Paraguay in March.

20-year-old defender Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur) saw first-team action this season while on loan to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday; 21-year-old defender Erik Palmer-Brown signed for Premier League champions Manchester City in January and spent the final four months of the season on loan to Belgian side Kortrijk; 18-year-old forward Tim Weah made his first-team debut for Paris Saint-Germain in March and made his first Ligue 1 start earlier this month.

[ UCL FINAL: Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

Potential lineup

—– Hamid —–

—- Lichaj —- Miazaga —- Zimmerman —- Villafaña —-

—- Gooch —- McKennie —- 

—- Rubin —- Pulisic —- Weah —- 

—- Novakovich —-

Bolivia calls mostly domestic squad for friendly vs. USMNT

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The U.S. Men’s National Team won’t be seeing the best Bolivia has to offer when the South American nation makes a trip to Chester, Penn. later this month.

The Bolivian FA announced on its social media pages that it had called in a mostly domestic squad, although it’s missing players from the nation’s three biggest clubs: The Strongest, Bolivar and Jorge Wilstermann. While it wasn’t mentioned, those three clubs plus San Jose are facing off next week in the league playoffs to determine a champion.

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Current manager of The Strongest, Cesar Farias, who formerly coached Venezuela and Club Tijuana, is taking charge of Bolivia for the friendly at Talen Energy Stadium on May 28.

One notable inclusion in the squad is D.C. United 20-year-old forward Bruno Miranda. He’s made two appearances off the bench for D.C. this season, including in last weekend’s 3-2 defeat to Real Salt Lake.

Considering this lineup, the U.S. should have a good chance to build up some confidence and pick up a nice win heading into a two-match European tour at Ireland and France in June.