USMNT prospects around the world are finding their way in senior football. As they look to establish themselves at their respective clubs, the key is very simple: just keep playing.
Unlike any other period in American soccer, the U.S. Men’s National Team has a crop of young, burgeoning stars that are ready and able to comprise what could be a very competitive team.
There is, of course, a long way for the USMNT to go. At this stage, piling expectations on the team and what it may or may not become is futile. But the initial signs suggest that America could finally field a team of genuine and significant ability.
They have regular starters in the Bundesliga like Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie. Christian Pulisic was sold for $73 million last summer. Tim Weah, Josh Sargent, Giovanni Reyna, Sergino Dest and Richie Ledezma are considered some of the brightest talents at some of the biggest teams across European football.
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And then there is the wave of young MLS-based players who are playing regularly for their respective teams. Miles Robinson, Brenden Aaronson, Paxton Pomykal, Jesus Ferreira, Aaron Herrera, among plenty of others. The USMNT has the most talented pool of players it has ever had.
But like anything in elite sport, predicting what will come to pass is extremely difficult and uncertain, and while the baseline talent may be exhilarating, that does not mean the end result will be any different from previously underwhelming senior teams. There is still a long way to go for many of these players to fulfil their true potential, and thereby form the best version of the USMNT.
For many of these players, they are in the midst of that crucial transition period between young prospect and senior contributor. Perhaps only McKennie and Pulisic can be considered as regular starters for a high-level European team, and even then, neither are the first names on the teamsheet as guaranteed starters each and every week.
So, as these players look to establish themselves at their respective clubs, the key is that they ensure that they are playing regularly. As Pulisic and McKenzie have enjoyed at Borussia Dortmund and Schalke respectively, being handed opportunities to feature in significant matches on a regular basis is critical to their development. You will not improve if you do not play.
This is a significant challenge for many, and it may mean taking on loan moves away from their parent clubs or even choosing lesser landing spots to ensure that they are playing on a regular basis. Sitting in the reserves is no good, no matter how brilliant the team you are a part of may be.
The USMNT certainly has a ‘golden generation’ of young players breaking into senior clubs around the world. But if they are to fulfil their talent, they have to play. This, above all else, is vital. Let’s hope, then, that the young Americans can find clubs at which they are afforded regular opportunities.