A month of the heartbreaking disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, there’s a renewed sense of excitement in the U.S. Men’s National Team camp.
Interim manager Dave Sarachan called in plenty of fresh faces, some of whom may have been valuable in October if given the opportunity, for Tuesday’s friendly against Portugal.
The next generation of the USMNT has been molded in MLS academies and abroad, with players like Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Josh Sargent ready to join Christian Pulisic as stars of the present and future.
Each player took a different journey to Tuesday, but they all have the same goal.
For Adams, he gets a chance to finish his 2017 on a high note after falling out of the MLS playoffs with the New York Red Bulls last week.
“I was able to flip a new page and know that there would be a new chapter: coming into my first National Team camp,” Adams said. “It’s been a childhood dream of mine, and one that I’m always working towards. Wearing the crest is the ultimate goal for any player.”
McKennie came up through the FC Dallas academy before joining Schalke, where he’s received first-team minutes in the Bundesliga this season.
“I have a lot to thank FC Dallas for,” McKennie said. “They’re one of the best in the country. They really know what they’re doing. When I made the jump over to Europe, I wasn’t surprised by many of the changes because FC Dallas was a step ahead. It was easier for me.”
Sargent will be the next American player to make that step as he links up with Werder Bremen in January following a tremendous 2016 on the youth national team levels.
“I never thought I’d be here so soon,” Sargent said. “The fact that I am is amazing. I’m just looking forward to proving that I deserve to be here. We can do it a lot sooner than we thought. It gives the U.S. hope to see a lot of young talents.”
All three players have done enough to warrant a call-up for Tuesday’s game, and for future appearances as the USMNT gets back on its feet.
The first cap for Adams, McKennie and Sargent will signal a generational shift that American fans have been clamoring for the last 12 months.
It will not only be a memorable moment for the fans to see the next generation take the field, it will be an occasion the players themselves won’t soon forget.
“You don’t really know what it means until you first put that jersey on,” Adams said. “You hear the anthem and you get goosebumps. You continue to get goosebumps throughout, every time I hear the national anthem.”
“I don’t just think about myself when I put on the crest,” McKennie added. “You represent the country. You’re the voice of the country in this sport around the world. I think about the team and the fans. It’s a nation that never gives up, never stops fighting. Whenever I put on the crest, it’s all or nothing for me.”