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USMNT seeking next piece of puzzle from October friendlies


Throughout the summer many fans of the U.S. Men’s National Team were wondering when Dave Sarachan would mix his squad with young and older players. There were mentions of it, but no real action taken in the summer or the start of fall.

Thursday begins the next pair of friendlies for the USMNT, starting with a date against Colombia in Tampa. Five days later the USMNT takes on Peru in Hartford, Conn. It’s a pair of countries who, unlike the U.S., participated in the 2018 FIFA World Cup with Colombia advancing out of the group stage.

Sarachan added a pair of veterans into the squad for the matches, midfielder Michael Bradley and goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

“Over the last few months we wanted to implement some veteran guys with some younger ones to add some experience,” Sarachan said. “I felt the time was right to do so and I think adding guys like Michael and Brad to the mix will be a big benefit.”

“We’re talking about a collective group here that has over 400 caps, Michael has 140 himself so that’s a valuable resource to have especially with the young guys,” Sarachan continued. “This group is young and somewhat inexperienced at this level including meaningful games so having these guys together will create a good blend moving forward.”

A trio of big names originally named to the roster was midfielders Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, and Weston McKennie, but all three withdrew due to respective injuries. Bradley’s return was certainly a shocking one, due to the fact he hadn’t been capped in close to eight months while Guzan was close to a year without a cap. Regardless, the pair is excited to be leaders for the younger players while also fighting for their places in Sarachan’s starting XI.

“I’m very excited to be back and to be with some of these younger guys who have done well over the last 9-10 months,” Bradley said. “Going forward I need to show them that they will be a big part of things as we try to put a team together for Gold Cup and also meaningful matches.”

“We’ve got a lot of young and exciting players who are just starting to make a name for themselves in world football,” Guzan said. “From a U.S. Soccer perspective, the future is bright and I’m happy to be a part of the group.”

Like Brazil and Mexico in September, the pair of South American opponents will be a tough test for the USMNT. Stars like Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Christian Cueva, and Juan Cuadrado headline the rosters for both countries.

The final result may not be the biggest worry for Sarachan and Co. as they get another glimpse at their players against top competition. The goal will be to compete against these highly-ranked sides, but also continue to grow as a unit and gain more combined experience for the future.

“It’s nice to see, I think we have a lot of good young players,” Julian Green said. “I think we’re looking forward to the future and that’s the most important thing. We may be missing guys, but that’s soccer. We have a big group of guys here so now we just have to handle it ourselves.”

“These matches are a test for us, they are technically good teams that we’re facing,” Green continued. “We know it will be a tough test but we will try to go out and win these games.”

Green is one of the many attack-minded players looking for a consistent spot with the USMNT. Bobby Wood is coming in on good form after a brace for Hannover. Josh Sargent has had an impressive campaign so far with Werder Bremen’s U-23 side, while Andrija Novakovich has four goals with Eredivisie side Fortuna Sittard. Despite seeing his time reduced with the senior squad, Timothy Weah bagged his first competitive goals for Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain.

We don’t know how the starting XI will exactly look against Colombia and Peru, but Sarachan has plenty of options to choose from for both matches. DeAndre Yedlin is the veteran of the bunch in the backline, and Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers will also look to lead as the centerback duo. At the end of this international period, the hope will be that the USMNT continues to take steps forward and not backward.

“Some players have done well in the past, but they also need to be around it more frequently,” Bradley said. “Sometimes you may need to get guys chances to see if they can be a part of it. As we get to the end of this year, we need to look forward to the future with Concacaf Nations League games, World Cup Qualifiers are approaching. It’s about putting the pieces of the puzzle together.”


  1. You’re talking new puzzle pieces but how are you supposed to find them playing this schedule. To revert back to an older complaint of mine I dropped once the gauntlet started, it would be that this series of friendlies, dating back to Ireland and continuing through November, is poorly considered. The nature of the schedule would encourage most coaches to divert from appropriate player evaluation, which you can do against reasonable opponents, towards cynical system efforts and falling back on crutches like Bradley, which is what a team does that is obsessed with immediate results and has lost its sense of calibration in terms of scheduling the opposition it needs for the next few months’ needs. I don’t like how conservative Sarachan is but I can also see how the knee jerk response from a coach worried about keeping a job and not embarrassing himself would be that the schedule forces me to play this way and to call this set of people. I think every one of these games should be a tryout camp with new faces but try doing that facing Brazil Mexico France Ireland Colombia England Italy. The only ones that seem befitting the player evaluation needs of the moment are Peru and Mexico. Otherwise it’s like is the goal here to build a team or to sell tickets playing half last cycle just because the schedule sent the caretaker into a fetal position crying.

  2. I’m a big USMNT fan and watch all the games…but probably not this one. Until Sarachan is gone and a permanent coach is hired…what’s the point. I have no interest in seeing MB again and watching a midfield with he and Will Trapp in it is just a waste of time. The only reason I might watch is to see if Jonathan Amon plays…otherwise, wake me when we hire a new coach.

      • GP: I don’t know how serious ssartor is about his statement that he won’t watch the game, but I’m almost at that point. I live 2 hours away from Tampa and was very close to buying tickets until Pulisic, McKinnie and Adams fell like dominoes, and it became clear that MB would be starting (or at least playing) tonite. My son is excited to watch the game, so I will gladly have that time together with him. But I believe that most of the USMNT fans are pretty turned off by this waste of friendlies over the past year. Any minute of PT given to MB at this point is just a waste.

      • If it isn’t fun for you, don’t follow! Seriously life’s too short for “hobbies” that are actually stressful and/or make you angry. Watching the US is supposed to be fun. You root for the team. If you’re watching for the sole purpose of hoping some players fail and get booed, you should wonder what this even does for you in the first place.

      • “If you’re watching for the sole purpose of hoping some players fail and get booed…” Who said anything about rooting for anyone to fail? I’ll concede I don’t want Bradley to play, but if he’s on the field, then he’s a part of the team.

        Do you have a TV show or a movie franchise that you get excited about it? For me, it was the Bourne series. When the 4th one came out with Renner instead of Damon, I skipped it (until it came out on-demand) because I didn’t think it would meet my expectations (I was right). It’s kind of like that. I love the USMNT, but the product tonite will likely not meet my expectations. I do like the backline that Sarachan has been starting. But with Bradley likely to start tonite, it’s like watching Jeremy Renner… And that’s the best I can explain it to you.

      • You root for the team, yes, but if you watch a team long enough you feel like you might back seat drive it better than the ones doing it, sometimes to a frustrating level. Personally I watch them all just like my horrifying Dynamo, but when I get cranky about the level of stupidity I do start to question why. I am concerned that it’s taking a year to get a new coach and this caretaker is a dunce who can’t decide if we are lining up the first XI including holdovers, or trying to figure out which players are the future. That Bradley and Guzan in particular are hills he wants to fight on strike me as absurd and a sign of how lost he is. Neither of them possibly last 4 years and no wise coach re-integrates old players he will have to take back out in the next couple years, worse, does so regardless how they look at club, which should be a sign to stick a fork in em, they’re cooked.

    • I know I have been beating the young player drum, but even if you don’t buy that you might balk at Bradley and Guzan back in camp at their ages, and the CBs plus Trapp becoming reflexive starters.

      • You are driving yourself mad over very minor things. Horvath? Who cares!?!? Losing your mind over who is going to be the heir apparent to the 3rd goalkeeper is just not worth it. Sarachan will be replaced soon enough…. driving yourself up the wall over his decisions is a needless waste of emotional energy.

    • The one that should be driving people batty as much as any is Horvath, who is basically there because someone at some point thought he was the heir apparent to 3rd keeper when Rimando retired, and has stuck to that analysis despite how he looked lately in the US shirt, or the fact he’s not even playing in club. I get helping a star through a slump like Wood, but Horvath is literally not even seeing the field except for when we bring him in.

  3. “Going forward I need to show them that they will be a big part of things as we try to put a team together for Gold Cup…” Michael Bradley. Sounds like it is now assumed that he is going to be a mainstay with the team, at least through the gold cup. I wonder how much the USSF will condition the new coach so that there is continuity between Sarachan and the new guy who’s likely to be from MLS. My guess is they will be heavily influential. Regardless, I am looking forward to not having to hear anymore from a lightweight, Arena lackey.

    • You all are becoming insane and paranoid over this. There is no “Michael Bradley Deep State”. We will have a new coach soon enough and realistically, you should probably expect that whoever it is will kick the tires with some of the old guard too. Ultimately, the best players will win the spots. Relax.

      • He’s repeating Klinsi’s mistake of keeping Jones and Beckerman in the team into a new cycle even though their age math should be obvious and the risks associated with same obvious as well. Top it all, Bradley hasn’t even been playing that well. But that isn’t stopping Guzan, Horvath, Trapp, and others off this team either. I am eager for a new coach and hopefully one who actually watches what happens as opposed to perseveres about ideas in his head. Objectively even if you could milk Bradley through GC there is no big picture point to doing so since he will have to be replaced some point in the next 4 years for certain, and it would be more disruptive to do so later than now. I think we are still stuck in the same trap we have been of being too focused on “playing to win” and not enough on building a project that lasts from players who actually perform to earn it.

        I mean, the irony of pulling Bradley out of mothballs to chase the GC. We didn’t win a lot last cycle for a team that foolishly played to win all the darned time, not making the transition to younger players.

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