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MLS-based midfield shines in USMNT win


Entering Tuesday’s friendly, much of the focus was on the U.S. Men’s National Team’s young European-based stars, and for good reason. The roster was littered with talented young prospects plying their trade at noteworthy European clubs.

But, when the final whistle sounded on Tuesday night, it was a trio of MLS regulars that stood out as the biggest key to victory.

The midfield trio of Wil Trapp, Tyler Adams and Marky Delgado shined on Tuesday night, dominating the match in the game’s most important sector. Facing a veteran Paraguay midfield headlined by Atlanta United star Miguel Almiron, the U.S. midfield was far superior, leading the charge in an impressive team-wide performance.

Each played a pivotal role in the midfield three. Trapp played the organizer, communicating and offering leadership. Delgado and Adams, meanwhile, had freedom to play their game. Delgado was able to move the ball both long and short while Adams used his engine and workrate to pop up all over the field.

“Both those guys are easy to play with,” Adams said. “Their angles on and off the ball and how clean they are with the ball, wanting to play forward at all times. Me just trying to find the right pockets, and even playing a deeper role for the most part tonight sitting next to Wil and having the one run out of the midfield that was pretty dangerous. They’re easy to play with.”

“We knew we wanted to come after them and be positive with our mentality and I thought we did that,” Trapp said. “Tyler’s going to get after the ball, Marky’s smart and good in pockets and I hold a little bit more. I think the complements were certainly there and they created the goal so that was a wonderful thing to see as well.

That chemistry was apparent during the game’s pivotal moment, one which saw Delgado and Adams connect. Shortly before halftime, Delgado found Adams with a perfectly hit long ball following a surging run from the New York Red Bulls midfielder. Adams proceeded to round the goalkeeper and earn a penalty kick, one converted by forward Bobby Wood.

“Marky is a good passer,” interim boss Dave Sarachan said. “He’s a connector and he’s got good feet. Tyler has an incredible engine. His feet were good, not great, but he still got out of trouble. The combination of a good passer and a guy who can run could be deadly. We felt Paraguay may play a high line and we talked about breaking that line from a deeper role. Tyler timing his run was excellent and he did that. They each utilized their strength on that goal.”

“I know Tyler has a lot of speed,” Delgado added. “Being in camp with him in January the kid’s fitness level is definitely up there and I expected him to get to that ball and he did well getting there.”

The moment provided a bit of flash during what was mostly a workmanlike performance. Trapp was arguably the star, earning honors as SBI USMNT Man of the Match, but Adams and Delgado were just as tireless when it came to workrate and pressure.

Named captain for the second time after previously assuming the role during January camp, Trapp says the honor isn’t one he’s used to quite yet as he looks to battle for a consistent place.

“First of all, he’s a terrific leader,” Sarachan said of Trapp. “He was our captain and he made sure we were organized. He talked, he communicated, he played out of pressure. He was able to pick his spots in terms of playing long and short. I just thought, overall, with and without the ball, he was very steady tonight.”

“I think that’s one of the things I try to bring to the team,” Trapp added. “We had a guy like Marky, it’s his first start, Tyler who is just growing in confidence with every game it seems like, whether it’s with the Red Bulls or the national team. For me it’s easy, it’s just about organizing those guys and putting them in good positions to help us win the game.”

Having earned the win, the trio now look poised for more as the midfield competition heats up. There are a number of other contenders for midfield minutes, including players like Weston McKennie and Cristian Roldan, while Michael Bradley, Darlington Nagbe, Kellyn Acosta and Danny Williams still very much feature into the midfield picture.

Over time, that picture will sort itself out but, for now, the trio were glad to build chemistry in a rock solid performance.

“I feel like we did really well,” Delgado said. “The communication was there. From Day 1, we struggled a bit, but over the week being the competitive players we are, we built a chemistry coming into the game.”

“I feel comfortable here,” Adams added. “Gaining that confidence throughout the week is important, but again playing with guys like Marky and Wil they make it easy on you. Wil gains confidence throughout the game and he gives you a confidence as well. It’s easy for me. I feel like I fit right in.”


  1. Many team would like to have this team,for..all the first time,the USAMNT has a Club that many
    countries would like to have,all are playing well,not injured like mexico whit nestor araujo
    and Carlos Salcedo and many more in doubt,and lust to Croacia,in a poor TRI perfomance
    or Panama they play very very bad… so,now Usa is playing glad and happy,withaut pressiónto go rusia, in the future

  2. There is a chance that the guys who didn’t play were not very good in camp. Robinson and Lichaj have been benched, EPB has played one game since October, Moore has been playing in the 4th division.

  3. Never underestimate guys who have to fight for their place.

    Amazing how often that provides better performances than from those who are complacent.

  4. Kind of off the topic here but sarachan is a problem. He seems to be playing players to keep his intern job and really not focused on overall on the program. These friendlies are a chance to let some of the younger players play and he has the past 2 games not utilized the subs which I think is crazy. I would rather lose and let players get meaningful mins than win and waste opportunities for players like Moore and Robinson. And I don’t think Tyler Adams will be in MLS after the summer.

    • I was thinking something similar when Weah came in at the 85th minute. I understand playing for a win even if it is just a meaningless friendly, but come on. Seems as if you were going to gamble on giving a young player time, now would be the time (compared to GC 19′).

      Saying that, this squad as a whole was rather inexperienced and new with only a few “seasoned” players so we can’t quite claim to not be giving chances. I just would have liked to see the likes of subs used earlier and utilizing all 6 of them.

    • U.S. fans will always put incredible effort into finding things to be unhappy about. I’m overjoyed I got to see guys like Adams, Delgado, Weah, Novakovich, Carter-Vickers, Rubin, and Saief. Just think: Villafana, Wood, and Yedlin were by far the most experienced national teamers in this group. And yet people are outraged because Sarachan didn’t manage the subs in exact accordance with their wishes. There is something to be learned from how younger players perform over 70+ mins, rather than simply making wholesale changes to the lineup.

      • Dude, I enjoyed the game and the young players playing. All I am saying is it was a wasted opportunity to not use the extra subs. I could care less if they win this game. I want to see improvement in the all around game which hasn’t been the case.

    • Disagree. He has tried to keep a normal flow to the game rather than throw as many subs as he can in there just for the sake of “seeing young players play.” Watching a young player in for 15 minutes in a disjointed, unnatural game that is ruined by too many stoppages and changes provides nothing for the coaches or the players. What he has done instead is approach these more like normal games, which is much more important for the confidence, psyche, and development of these young players than a few token minutes would be.

      • I’m not saying they should have subbed all 6 players in at the 45th minute therefore disrupting the flow of the game, but why not bring in 2 players in at the 50th’ish? bring in another 2 around the 70th’ish. If anything dragging out 4 separate subs rather than 2 spurts seems less disruptive as for “stoppages”, as the changes remain the same.

        All I’m saying is bringing in Weah at the 86th minute allowed him to get his feet wet, but not really tested. Roldan at 92nd?

        It’s great we won and I enjoyed that game more than the vast majority of the WCQ, but it was a friendly and I would have preferred to see some of the subs used to actually gauge them as players than grind out the win.

        Also, I’d like to reiterate what I said above. The squad was relatively new and only had a few “seasoned” players so new faces were given their chance to shine. But since we won’t see the USMN for another 2 months, why not give your subs few more minutes?

      • ” If anything dragging out 4 separate subs rather than 2 spurts seems less disruptive as for “stoppages”, as the changes remain the same”

        Thats what i get for randomly editing my posts on the fly…. should have been ” If anything dragging out 4 separate subs rather than 2 spurts seems MORE disruptive as for “stoppages”, as the changes remain the same”

        Also, Panda, Hoping the “finding things to be unhappy about” comment was not directed to my post. I for one enjoyed the game thoroughly. But that does not mean that I can’t criticize when I see something I don’t necessarily agree with. Was Sarachan wrong in his management of subs? Of course not. it’s his choice and his team won a great match. I simply would have liked to see more minutes for some players to see how they too would perform.

      • Even though it was just a friendly and we are not playing in the World Cup, it is important for this team and these players to develop confidence and a winning mentality. The fact that there are no “real” games coming for a while makes the mental approach and takeaways from these games that much more important.

      • I try to be open ended about these conversations but I’m done with this stupidity

    • With way Paraguay were fouling and playing dirty in the second half, i don’t blame Sarachan for not using all of his subs. The last thing you want to do is have a frustrated Paraguay team hurt one of our younger players in a meaningless friendly. Plus, there are three games during the next international break, and i think we can bank on players who didn’t get minutes this time getting minutes in some capacity during the next one! Take Marky Delgado, who didn’t play last January, which fans clamored for, but he starts last night and instrumental in one of the biggest chances to score on the night for the US #theprocess

  5. They really did look good. I know we’re trumpeting MLS here but Kenny Saief also looked exceptional. Was shocking how quick and technical the whole crew was.

    Thought Nagbe had one of his better outings as well. He really seems to play better as a contributing player, not a focus.

    We have some very, very exciting young talent. We didn’t even see McKinnie or Pulisic out there and it didn’t matter.

    Definitely suggests it’s time and more than time to move past the likes of Michael Bradley, who is neither as quick nor as technical as any of the above.


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