USMNT plans bold 2018 schedule & March roster prediction
There was a flury of news regarding the United States national team that surfaced on Monday. Three friendlies were announced as well as a plan for a bold slate of games. ASN's Brian Sciaretta brakes it down and looks at a potential roster for March
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedON MONDAY U.S. SOCCER announced three friendlies for the national team. The friendlies in Europe against Ireland on June 2 and against France on June 9 were reported by European news outlets. The friendly against Paraguay on March 27 in Cary, NC was fresh news.
February 13, 2018
February 13, 2018
After failing to qualify for the World Cup this summer, U.S. Soccer is aiming to create a challenging series of friendlies throughout the rest of 2018 with another friendly at home in May expected to be added.The goal is to have high profile games in the international dates in September, October, and November. That will be welcome to news to disappointed American fans who want to see the team aggressive in its rebuilding effort. Attendance for national team friendlies has been declining for years
Newly elected U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro has a huge task in front of him to hire people in the technical roles who will then select the next fulltime U.S. national team coach. U.S. Soccer has approved of general manager positions for the men’s and women’s teams and this position will be similar to technical director roles that generally make the soccer decisions for those programs.
It is expected that the general manager role for the men’s side won’t be filled for a few months while the search is underway. A new coach probably won’t be named until after the World Cup.
Almost as importantly for Cordeiro in 2018, he will need to unify a deeply divided American soccer community that has seen a wave of bad news the past six months. In addition to failing to qualify for the World Cup, top prospect Jonathan Gonzalez quit the program to join Mexico’s national team, and then there was a bitter presidential campaign that helped add to the toxic environment that affects MLS and runs all the way down to the youth levels of American soccer.
Right now it looks as if 2018 is going to be one of the most challenging years in American soccer history. The federation is going to have to make solid decisions on its personel and the culture within the team is going to have to change. Geoff Cameron's recent article in the Player's Tribune highlighted the divide.
Most importantly, the team will need to show progress in its rebuilding effort. There is no substitute for winning and in recent years, the team has played well below the sum of its parts. There are talented young players. Above all, fans will want to see these players reach their potential within the U.S. team.
The friendly against Portugal in November and the January camp were useful but the friendly against Paraguay is essentially the first step in the new cycle. The shock of missing the World Cup is fading and the players can focus on the huge task at hand. This game in March will take place in a FIFA window and players from Europe can be expected to join. Even without a permanent coach, the players themselves can start picking up the pieces and laying the framework themselves.
So what kind of roster can we expect against Portugal? It is impossible to know at this stage. According to U.S. Soccer’s own press release yesterday, Dave Sarachan’s name isn’t even mentioned. It is easy to see him continuing on as interim coach, but as this point nothing seems settled.
But here is a potential roster that seems like it would be productive.
1) Zack Steffen
2) Bill Hamid
3) Alex Bono
Notes: There is a complete absence of American goalkeepers in Europe at the moment. But Steffen is remains a top prospect and Hamid has been solid in his past few caps.
4) DeAndre Yedlin
5) Eric Lichaj
6) Jorge Villafana
7) Antonee Robinson
8) John Brooks (currently injured)/ Erik Palmer-Brown
9) Matt Miazga
10) Cameron Carter-Vickers
11) Ike Opara
Notes: There is an exciting group of young central defenders emerging right now with the U.S. team who will all be in their prime years in Russia. That is an easy position to fix. It will also be interesting to see if DeAndre Yedlin can emerge into a leadership role within the team given his MLS, Premier League, Championship, and World Cup experience.
Antonee Robinson has been making an extremely strong case for his first national team cap. The 20 year old Everton left back has been surging on loan this season at Bolton. Fellow English-American Cameron Carter-Vickers is also back in good form after his previous loan to Sheffield United ended poorly.
12) Christian Pulisic
13) Weston McKennie (currently injured)/ Cristian Roldan
14) Tyler Adams
15) Kellyn Acosta
16) Danny Williams
17) Kelyn Rowe
18) Paul Arriola
19) Kenny Saief
Notes: This list seems would combine Christian Pulisic and the best from the last two friendlies with the addition of Kenny Saief who is back and playing well after a long-term illness.
Forwards20) Aron Johannsson
21) CJ Sapong
22) Jordan Morris
23) Bobby Wood
Notes: Aron Johannsson is back and playing well after a rough few years and CJ Sapong has been mostly positive in his past two call-ups. Meanwhile, Jordan Morris should gradually be getting back into form after missing most of the second half of 2017 with a long-term injury. He was rusty against Bosnia but should be sharper. Bobby Wood is having a rough season at Hamburg but has generally been solid for the U.S. team.
This camp should be about moving the program forward and putting it into a position to handoff to the next national team coach. It is not a glamorous position for the team and the small venue reflects a low-key atmosphere around the team at this stage. It doesn’t mean it can’t be productive.
It is possible for a few players who were key parts of the World Cup qualifying debacle to get called-up again but that is probably best left to the next head coach due to the sensitivity of that issue.