The USMNT face Brazil on Friday night in the first of two friendlies. The roster is exceptionally strong in central midfield and it will be interesting to see how they cope with one of the best teams in the world.
It’s a restart for the US Men’s National Team. After the dismal failure of missing out on the 2018 World Cup, the U.S. federation decided, quite simply, to press pause, then quit game, and then start a new one. And who can blame them?
We are now at the beginning of the new game. An influx of youthful prospects and talent now forms the core of the national squad and the whole set-up has been reorientated to start afresh, looking towards the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2019 and then the World Cup qualification ahead of Qatar 2022.
And as I survey the roster for the two upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Mexico, the first of which is on Friday night against the Brazilians, I cannot help but notice the strength, the youthful energy, and the exciting prospects that make up the central midfield options.
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The leading man is Tyler Adams. The New York Red Bulls midfielder has been excellent this season, excelling in both a deep-lying, anchoring role, or pushed into a slightly more advanced, box-to-box position. He is the beating heart of one of the best teams in MLS and is now being asked to take on the same responsibility for the USMNT. All at the age of 19, this kid is the future, that’s for sure.
But unlike in previous years when the talent of the USMNT has only been surface-deep, in central midfield, this current crop of young players offers remarkable depth, versatility and quality. Weston McKennie is another ball-winning, athletic player who has flourished for Schalke in the Bundesliga. Cristian Roldan of the Seattle Sounders is a famously flexible option who has showcased his ability to perform at a number of different positions. And then, to complement them all, there is a Wil Trapp, a far more technically gifted player than the U.S. is used to developing.
All of this is forgetting a revitalised Kellyn Acosta who has shown a brilliant eye for goal as an attacking midfielder, making those piercing runs off the centre-forward and in behind the opposing defence — he has two goals and two assists in the six games he has played for the Colorado Rapids since his midseason trade from FC Dallas.
Suddenly, the U.S. has a nice collection of midfield players that offer quality, longevity and versatility. Each brings their own attributes and they complement one another nicely. Dave Sarachan now has the flexibility to play in a variety of styles and systems, knowing that he has the midfield players to be able to freely and successfully chop and change.
It remains to be seen who will be afforded the chance to start against the great Brazil. I am sure all are desperate to. But the competition for places, the versatility in their styles, and the excitement of youth of this whole squad are embodied in the central midfield position. The midfield is indeed where it’s at.