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Three things we learned from USMNT 1-0 Paraguay

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CARY, NC — The United States topped Paraguay 1-0 at WakeMed Field in Cary, NC on a goal by Bobby Wood, but that’s not where tonight’s story lies.

[ MORE: Recap | Player ratings ]

On a night of youthful energy, the United States was far from pretty, but the performance sparked plenty of promise. Here are the three most notable talking points we can take from the victory.

1. Tyler Adams can ball

MLS fans (more specifically, Red Bulls fans) knew this already, but tonight the full national fan-base got to experience it. Tyler Adams was a force in the first 20 minutes, and he threatened throughout with freedom in the middle. When Paraguay began to build he lost influence, but the 19-year-old showed plenty of promise. He scythed up the Paraguay midfield in the opening 15 minutes for the best early US chance, and he popped up all over the field.

[ MORE: Tyler Adams shines the brightest as USA defeats Paraguay ]

Then, just before halftime, he absolutely ROASTED the high Paraguay line. We’re talking a burst of speed that forced all 10,000 at WakeMed Park to audibly gasp. Usain Bolt would be proud. It led to the US goal just before the break as he tried to round the keeper and was taken down.

A smart player who utilized space well, Adams isn’t your true #10 but instead more like a #8 with an intelligence on and off the ball. He played very well next to Marky Delgado, who sat deeper (and also had a quality game himself).

2. Wil Trapp could be a long-term answer at holding midfield

The position that has plagued the United States for the longest, the USMNT may have found a holding midfielder. Wil Trapp played his position perfectly, forcing Paraguay’s attack out wide which resulted in gobs of crosses which Carter-Vickers and Miazga were able to guard effectively. He dropped between the center-back pairing consistently as the opponent pushed forward, and he quieted the press with calm distribution. His tackling was of high-quality as well, poking the ball free numerous times and clattering Nestor Camacho legally to stop a late first-half break. Then, on the hour mark, he guarded Oscar Romero in a dangerous position at the top of the box, muscling him off the ball to guide the Paraguay attack wide, where it fizzled.

[ MORE: Young team’s chemistry surprisingly good in Paraguay win ]

Michael Bradley’s international career has been defined by his inability to find a best position, and often was pidgeonholed in the holding midfield role with no freedom to roam or space to provide his trademark through-ball. Could Wil Trapp be the answer the United States needs at that position? He might only have one World Cup cycle in him – two at best – at 25 years old, but he looked the part tonight.

3. It’s still hard to tell if U.S. Soccer has a clear direction

One of the most puzzling things after the final whistle was Dave Sarachan’s use of substitutes. He had six available to make, and used one until there was 13 minutes to go. He used 3 in regulation, and left 2 of them in his pocket altogether. With so many young players to take a look at, it left many wondering what the point of the game was if the maximum amount of players were not tested in a match setting. The U.S. setup has done many puzzling things with player selection and development over the years, giving opponents of the current regime plenty of fodder. This did nothing to quiet those fears.

Tim Weah, a promising 18-year-old attacker who just earned a call-up to the PSG first-team, got five minutes. Bobby Wood playing 77 minutes until relative unknown Andrija Novakovich was brought on. Erik Palmer-Brown was not tested in defense. Zack Steffan played the whole way in goal. This doesn’t make much sense given the ultimate goal of the game meant to evaluate young talent in a true international match setting, especially with only one friendly scheduled in this window instead of the usual two.

For all U.S. Soccer fed fans before these most recent friendlies about getting a good look at players for the future, this match didn’t do that to the fullest extent.

USMNT tops Paraguay, hands debuts to Weah, 2 others

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Over-exuberant? Sure, but the young United States men’s national team who dispatched with Paraguay 1-0 at Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary, North Carolina provided passion in spades for an American fan base begging for life from their USMNT.

Bobby Wood converted a penalty kick for his 11th international goal to give Dave Sarachan his first win in three tries (two draws) as interim boss of the squad.

[ MORE: 3 things | Player ratings ]

Dave Sarachan capped only three of his five uncapped players, handing a start to Marky Delgado and substitute appearances to Andriya Novakovich and Tim Weah.

The USMNT does not have another match scheduled until a May 28 visit from Bolivia in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Jorge Villafana was an unabashed bright spot in the first quarter hour, and Wil Trapp found him with a tremendous through ball to cue up a blocked Kenny Saief chance.

Zack Steffen had to deal with a risky back pass and a fairly routine header off a free kick as the first half hour wasn’t a busy one.

The Yanks won a penalty kick attempt when Marky Delgado sprung Tyler Adams on goal, who hit the floor after trying to dribble around Gatito Fernandez.

Wood’s slow run-up ended with calm low finish and the Yanks led 1-0 heading into the break.

Paraguay improved in the second half, but the Americans remained the more dangerous side and with most of the possession.

The match had its chippy moments, with Matt Miazga coming to the aid of Delgado and Yedlin picking up a yellow card after being jostled on the sideline.

Cameron Carter-Vickers gave away a dangerous free kick for what should’ve been seen as a routine shoulder barge, but the wall blocked Paraguay’s shot.

Substitute Rubio Rubin showed great cutback and vision with his 89th minute set-up of Weah for what became a dangerous free kick. Darlington Nagbe couldn’t get his 23-yard effort to dip under the bar.

Weah did well on debut, winning a dangerous free kick and then stealing another ball to set up Novakovich for what could’ve been a goal on debut.

USMNT Player Ratings from a 1-0 win over Paraguay

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The United States’ young XI showed plenty of inspired work in a 1-0 win over Paraguay on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Recap | 3 things ]

Here’s how Dave Sarachan’s men fared in Cary, North Carolina.

Starting XI

Zack Steffen — 7 — The breakout star of last season’s late MLS run, Columbus’ backstop has not lost anything since returning from Europe.

DeAndre Yedlin — 6 — Showed spunk in collecting his 50th cap.

Matt Miazga — 7 — Combined well with CCV to do what U.S. center back pairs should almost always do well against equal or lesser competition: win most balls in the air.

Cameron Carter-Vickers — 7 — We haven’t seen much of the Spurs prospect thanks to loans to Sheffield United and Ipswich Town, but he looked composed for a player who won’t turn 21 until New Year’s Eve.

Jorge Villafana — 6 — Very active and promising in the first 15 minutes, but otherwise simply solid. Part of a unit that limited Almiron.

Wil Trapp — 8 — Steady and calm in a performance that delivered on his promise as Columbus’ holding midfielder extraordinaire.

Darlington Nagbe (Off 90+1′) — 6 — One really creative run down the left wing but nothing special on the day. Average stuff.

Marky Delgado (Off 86′) — 7 — Delightful would-be assist on the Adams-won penalty, and it’s easy to forget he’s only 22 since he debuted at 17 for Chivas USA. Composed, and a coup for Toronto FC.

Tyler Adams — 8 — A Man of the Match caliber performance from the New York Red Bulls midfielder, Adams won a penalty kick and was ever-present. One of those “Did he leave the screen?” performances.

Kenny Saief (Off 67′) — 6 — Had some very dangerous moments on the left and it’s hard to imagine the Anderlecht man doesn’t have a future playing serious matches for the U.S.

Bobby Wood (Off 77′) — 7 — Ran his proverbial socks off, and coolly converted his penalty. Missed on what should’ve been a goal from the run of play before petering out from a lack of game action.

Substitutes

Rubio Rubin (On 67′) — 7 — Great cutback in vision during his 89th minute set-up of Weah for what became a dangerous free kick.

Andriya Novakovich (On 77′) — The Belgian-based striker is one of the Yanks’ most promising center forwards, and nearly found his way onto the score sheet on debut.

Tim Weah (On 86′) — 7 — Usually wouldn’t get a rating for eight minutes of work, but you know you want one. Plus he kinda deserves one: Won a dangerous free kick and stole a ball that nearly set Novakovich up for a goal on debut.

Cristian Roldan (On 90+1′) — N/A

USMNT teenager Tim Weah makes PSG debut

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What a moment for 18-year-old U.S. national team product Tim Weah.

The Son of Liberian soccer legend George Weah (who is currently the President of Liberia) made his full debut for Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday, with the forward coming on as a second half sub in PSG’s 2-0 win at Troyes in Ligue 1.

He didn’t seem overawed by the occasion or to be on the pitch alongside the likes of Dani Alves and Thiago Silva, with Weah coming on in the 77th minute and having a shot late on in a breakaway as PSG closed out the win to go 14 points clear atop the table.

Weah will likely get plenty of minutes for the runaway leaders of the French top-flight in the final months of the season, with Unai Emery without Brazilian superstar Neymar who is out until May following ankle surgery.

Big things are expected of Weah who shone for the U.S. U-17 at the World Cup in India in 2017, with the New York City born product signing a new deal at PSG last June which runs until 2020.

It may be a stretch to see him follow in his dad’s footsteps and be crowned Player of the Year, but boy is Weah an exciting prospect at center forward for the USMNT.

A frontline of Christian Pulisic, Weah and Josh Sargent is something U.S. fans will be drooling over in years to come…


PST Survey results: Most exciting USMNT prospect

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The results of PST’s Big American Soccer Survey are in, and our staff will be walking through the results of thousands of votes in a series of posts this week.

We didn’t realize you could acronymize it to BASS, or else we would’ve done it sooner. Today’s question: Excluding Christian Pulisic, who’s no longer a prospect despite being just 19, who is the most exciting USMNT prospect.

[ MORE: All Big American Soccer Survey posts ]

Exciting performances in the U-20 and U-17 World Cups have given United States men’s national team fans plenty of hope for the future.

The most-mentioned write-in, collecting across all attempting spellings, was injured Arsenal playmaker Gedion Zelalem.

As for the serious contenders, Jonathan Gonzalez, Andrew Carleton Tyler Adams, and Lynden Gooch lagged behind this pack of four:

Cameron Carter-Vickers — 14 percent — He had a howling back pass in Sheffield United’s 5-4 loss to Fulham on Wednesday, but the on-loan Spurs 19-year-old center back is playing every minute for a club very much in the mix for Premier League promotion.

Weston McKennie — 18 percent — Another 19-year-old, McKennie was one of the Men of the Match as Schalke went second in the Bundesliga this weekend. He’s been a regular starter when healthy, and played advanced, central, and set back in Schalke’s midfield. Next up: a Revierderby meeting with Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund.

Josh Sargent — 21 percent — Off to Werder Bremen when he turns 18 in late February, Sargent has four goals in five matches for the U.S. U-20s, and 14 in 29 for the U-17s. That includes four goals and two assists in his last three outings, against Paraguay, England, and Hungary.

Tim Weah — 24 percent — The son of African legend George Weah, Tim turns 18 two days after Sargent. Unlike his countryman, Weah has been in Europe for some time. The Paris Saint-Germain prospect is slated to get his First Team bow some time soon, having scored four goals and added an assist for PSG in the UEFA Youth League.