The U.S. Men’s National underwhelmed in a 3-0 loss to England on Thursday night. However, the individual talent in the USMNT squad still remains. It just needs patience and preparation.
The U.S. Men’s National Team decided to rip it up and start again.
When the embarrassment of failing to qualify for a World Cup had subsided, which, given the nature and extent of the humiliation, was not a short period, the plan in place was simple: restart with a movement of blossoming youth talent.
And that has very much been the case in the international matches since. Dave Sarachan named a squad that had an average age of just 23 for this current international break in November, playing a European double-header against England and Italy.
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But the performances and results, bar a 1-0 win over Mexico, have indicated that this collection of players might not be as talented as first hoped. With a string of Americans slowly taking the trip across the Atlantic, embarking on European endeavours, it was hoped that the USMNT would soon be stocked full of players playing at the highest domestic level.
To some extent, that is true. Of the 11 players that started in Thursday night’s 3-0 defeat to England, eight already ply their trade in Europe. But while they may be playing in Europe, when they come together for the national team, it certainly does not look like it. They were largely outclassed by a decent but far from spectacular England team on Thursday.
And if you were to watch that match and draw meaningful conclusions on many of the individuals that featured heavily that match without any prior knowledge of their development, backgrounds and styles, you might well conclude that none have the talent worthy of investment and patience.
However, I do still believe that, on an individual basis, the USMNT consists of some extremely gifted young players that offer a brighter future than the current run of performances and results. Specifically, there are three players around which this team should be built, and built with hope and anticipation for what is to come: Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie.
The trio is yet to start a game together. There was a brief period in the second half, after Adams was introduced from off the bench, when they were all present in the 11 players on the pitch, but in terms of an extended run of matches together, they have not been afforded such a ‘luxury’.
Against England, Pulisic was the U.S.’ brightest player, and by some distance. He was the only real attacking threat, skipping past defenders with relative ease, dribbling with pace from wide areas. And Adams and McKennie looked better than many of their teammates in the midfield and defensive ranks. These are still players with great ability and great potential.
So yes, the results have been poor. And the performances have been even poorer. But the USMNT still has talent. The plan to restart is still the right one. It might just take a little time.