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U.S. Men's National Team

Matt Miazga shakes off preseason rust by scoring first USMNT goal

U.S. Men’s National Team defender Matt Miazga was happy to get back on the pitch.

“The goal was a little added bonus,” he chuckled after Saturday’s 3-0 win over Nicaragua.

It was Miazga’s first game action in over two months and he was eager to shake off the rust.  He was admittedly in “preseason mode,” but he certainly helped out by scoring the goal that put the USMNT on top of Group B and into the Gold Cup quarterfinals with a favorable matchup against El Salvador. All the while, he helped in maintaining a clean sheet amidst unexpected Nicaraguan pressure.

Miazga has been putting extra time into his workouts in order to escape his self-admitted preseason state. One of the few European-based players on the squad, Miazga has been out of game action for several months unlike his MLS-based teammates. In an effort to prepare for both the short and long-term challenges, he’s been working out extra in the gym, putting on weight to make himself one of the biggest guys on the pitch.

The extra work in training appears to be paying off. Defensive midfielder Dax McCarty, who played with Miazga with the New York Red Bulls two years ago, can see a big difference in his approach to the game as Miazga has grown both physically and mentally since departing MLS in Jan. 2016.

“I think he’s matured a lot. He reads the game pretty well,” McCarty said after Saturday’s win. “I think his decision-making has gotten a lot better since he played over in Holland. You can tell that he’s refined his game a little bit too.”

“I had to really push the capacity these last few weeks on my fitness,” Miazga added, “always doing extra after training.”

The Chelsea player is focused on the Gold Cup right now, but he also faces an uncertain future at the club level. He spent last season on loan at Vitesse in the Netherlands, where he started 19 games in all competitions. He will return to England facing the prospect of another season long loan, but it remains to be seen where his future lies.

“They’re very happy with my progress,” Miazga said of Chelsea. “I’m very happy with the way it’s going and I’m headed in the right direction.”

Before that, he’s got the national team to worry about. Miazga is sticking with the USMNT after their full slate of roster changes heading into a quarterfinal match with El Salvador in Philadelphia. It offers another chance to impress as Miazga looks to rise up the ranks for both club and country.

10 comments
  • I scored three goals in one game

    Even though it was a weak opponent and only one game, I think he helped his case going forward more so then hedges. Hope he gets the start on Wednesday

    Like

  • SBI TroII

    The young man certainly has a good shot at Russia, though Arena’s love for Gonzales could leave him on the outside looking in. This is how I see it at the moment: (probably a 4-3-1-2 system to take advantage of Pulisic and a lack of speedy wingers)

    GK: Howard, Guzan, Horvath
    LB: Johnson, Lichaj
    LCB: Brooks, Besler
    RCB: Cameron, Miazga
    RB: Yedlin, Chandler
    DM: Bradley, McCarty
    Mids: Acosta, Nagbe, Bedoya, Lletget, Rowe
    AM: Pulisic
    ST: Altidore, Dempsey, Wood, Morris/Agudelo

    Like

  • Dennis

    I think Zardes will find a spot. Villafana will be the LB if Johnson plays mid. Lichaj stays Chandler is out.

    Also, Jones may be old, but he is not yet out, probably at McCarty’s expense.

    Then there are Greene, Hyndman, maybe even wunderkind Sargent or another U-20 player. It is so hard to tell who will blossom and when.

    Like

    • whammmm

      Areed on Dax and chandler, unless chandler somehow shows a significant impact in qualifiers. I like Dax but he just doesn’t cut it. Where is JJ 2.0?

      Like

  • johnnyrazor

    Lichaj doesn’t really play LB anymore and he hasn’t so far in the GC either, he made a handful of appearances there for Forest last season. And as has been pointed out if he can’t beat out Zusi at RB how can he be our best option at LB. We’ll see maybe he’ll start the rest of the way at RB in the GC.

    I think Ream and Besler still have a lot to decide at LCB, if Ream remains Fulham’s full time LCB he might have the edge.

    Chandler is a wild card since his role with Eintract is not the traditional RB in a 4 man back line, but as a wingback in a 3/5 back. That plus his lower form for the national team to his club form make him tough to predict.

    Having watched LA and ManU the other night, I think Jones is done, plus I think it unlikely he can stay healthy enough to even be on the field by that point.

    I do think there is a lot of room for newcomers or fringe players, with qualifying ending this fall and with full friendlies in Nov. and March plus the January camp cupcake for American based players to state their case before roster selections. I don’t see Sargent having a chance given that he won’t be eligible to play his first pro match until February and likely to start with U19s. How Lletget and Hyndman return from injury will factor as will how much playing time Gaines, Boyd, Green, Gooch, McKennie, AronJo, and Wright earn once the season begins.

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    • Gary Page

      I don’t necessarily disagree with you about Jones, but think it should be pointed out that the game Saturday was the first time he has played in about 2 months and then he goes against Man U players. So, it’s hardly a good basis to judge him. His history of injuries over the past couple of years do make his inclusion problematic.

      Liked by 1 person

      • johnnyrazor

        Good point, didn’t realize it was his first game back, but has he really looked good at any point this season?

        He was the best player in Brazil and arguably one of our two or three best last Summer in Copa America so never say never. He isn’t disciplined enough to play the #6 role, and I don’t see him as a better option than FJ, Pulisic, Nagbe on the outside so playing him would mean going with one striker and putting him next to Bradley or playing him as a #10 which doesn’t really fit him either. That means the empty bucket with he and Bradley sitting deep and generating virtually nothing like Panama last Spring.

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    • Javier

      I’m pretty sure that post was prefaced as how he saw the Russia 23 at the moment. Obviously some random young player could come out of nowhere and make the roster, but would you really put money on Julian Green becoming a world beater all of a sudden?

      Also I’m not sure how big a deal it is about Lichaj only playing right back versus on the left side. He’s played both in his career and I think he’s pretty adept at both sides unlike Yedlin or Chandler who really only play one side.

      I agree about Ream though, I could see him making it since he can also play LB in a pinch and since Bruce may want to go with a 3 or 5 man backline in a WC game after it worked so well against Mexico.

      Like

      • johnnyrazor

        I don’t know if Lichaj not playing LB anymore is a big deal or not, but considering Arena hasn’t played him there so far would lead you to believe it isn’t in his plan. He’s been almost exclusively a RB since moving to Forest.

        Green is interesting because last October you would have given him a good chance to be in the squad with goals against Cuba and New Zealand, followed that up with a Polkal Cup match goal. Then he transfers to Stuttgart and struggles for minutes scoring one goal in ten appearances. I think by October we should have a better idea if any surprises are forthcoming. He is in a top league so his chance would seem better than Boyd, Gaines, Gooch, or Morales. As SBI Troll said this is at the moment, we can almost be assured someone on these lists today will not be available next Summer due to injury or abysmal form.

        A lot of Americans abroad are getting minutes and doing well in preseason, but will that translate to actual minutes this season. I don’t think it will be anyone that isn’t at least on the radar. Hopefully, we can schedule the November friendlies in Europe and get a look at some of these younger Europe based players.

        Like

  • alndres ventura

    Real South Lake played like warrior vs Manchester United,whit his star,and the local team when
    the younger Like Brooks Lennon,,Justen Glad Saucedo,,Hernandez Usa player, and the goalkeeper lalo fernandez all americans,dominated the experience of MU,but they lost 1-2
    but in a good game Mouriño watch some of them,bu RSL played fast,,whit good combination
    MLS is advancing whit the young

    Like

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