USA-Portugal: Future begins now for national team

It's certainly not the circumstances in which the USA had hoped to be finishing out its 2017 season. But it will use Tuesday's friendly against Portugal as the first step in building a new national team as it looks past 2018 when it won't be playing at the World Cup.

Of the 21 players in camp, 13 played in World Cup 2018 qualifying or the 2017 Gold Cup, so it is a team with some experience around which some of the younger players will get a chance. If the USA had gone to Russia, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin and Jorge Villafana have likely been starters.

Beyond that, many others would have likely competed for spots on the World Cup roster. Now, they'll get first crack at making an impression as the USA looks ahead to trying to qualify for 2022.

1. Opportunity for a new group of keepers.

It is hard to imagine Tim Howard, Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando -- the top three keepers under Jurgen Klinsmann and Bruce Arena -- will be around much longer. A new battle for the No. 1 spot begins with Jesse Gonzalez, Bill Hamid and Ethan Horvath -- four caps between them -- in camp for the Portugal game.

"A lot of the players we brought in are inexperienced at this level," says interim coach Dave Sarachan, "but the thought process should be to look at youngsters that have a future, including the three goalkeepers. Each one of them has shown very well this week. The word I would use is opportunity. This a great opportunity for the young players, especially the goalkeepers."

2. Future is now for youngsters like Carter-Vickers, Adams and McKennie.

Of the four uncapped teenagers called in -- Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Josh Sargent -- only Carter-Vickers has previously been in camp with the senior team before. Sarachan said these players would have not been in camp if they didn't have bright futures.

"I would have liked to have projected," he said, "that if we did qualify and began work in 2018 there would be newer and younger faces. Would that be Tyler, Weston or Cameron? Possible, but it would be difficult to project that.”

3. New looks for Williams and Sapong.

Not all the players Sarachan has in camp are newcomers. Danny Williams has 22 caps, dating back to 2011, but never was called in by Arena. The same for C.J. Sapong, who earned his only two caps in 2012. Both are still only 28.

Both players have boosted their stock with their recent club form. Williams is playing for promoted English Premier League Huddersfield Town. Sapong had a career-high 16 goals this season for the Philadelphia Union and relishes the chance to get a second look on the national team.

"I think my first time around, being a first-year pro, I didn’t really know how to approach it," he said. "I wasn’t mentally in a place where I felt like I could give my all and actually have an impact. This time around, I feel very confident in my form and my mentality."

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas; 0/0), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 3/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 1/0).
DEFENDERS (7): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 32/3), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Sheffield United/ENG; 0/0), Eric Lichaj (Nott. Forest/ENG; 13/1), Matt Miazga (Vitesse/NED; 3/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 26/1), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna/MEX; 14/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 48/0).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 16/1), Tyler Adams (NY Red Bulls; 0/0), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 65/2), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland/ENG; 2/0), Weston McKennie (Schalke 04/GER; 0/0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 3/1), Danny Williams (Huddersfield Town/ENG; 22/2).
FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 26/3), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City; 3/2), C.J. Sapong (Philadelphia Union; 2/0), Josh Sargent (St. Louis Scott Gallagher; 0/0).
Note: In parentheses are caps and goals.
2 comments about "USA-Portugal: Future begins now for national team".
  1. feliks fuksman, November 14, 2017 at 8:43 a.m.

    Why only 4 new players?  We need new players who have not had a chance; players who are hungry; players who show up, who want the ball; who feel comfortable with the ball; who help teammates w/ the ball.

  2. feliks fuksman, November 14, 2017 at 8:47 a.m.

    Good luck Dave Sarcham and the USA team!

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