USA-Bolivia: Three takeaways from the youngsters' easy win

While 32 teams are preparing for the World Cup, the USA met Bolivia, a follow absentee from Russia 2018, in Pennsylvania for a friendly that served mainly to give American fans a glimpse of the USA's new generation. With a starting lineup averaging an age of 22.44, the USA cruised to a 3-0 win.


1. Josh Sargent is the center forward to watch.

Bolivia finished ninth in the 10-team South American qualifying for Russia 2018 and only brought two starters from its last qualifying game to Pennsylvania. Unavailable were all but one player from Bolivia's four strongest clubs because they're involved the Torneo Apertura semifinals.

For its part, the USA gave debuts to six players, including 18-year-old Josh Sargent, who has yet to play a professional club game. Sargent, the St. Louis product who has signed with Germany's Werder Bremen, scored four goals at the 2017 U-20 World Cup and three goals at the 2017 U-17 World Cup. At the U-20 World Cup, Sargent scored with his right foot, his head, his left foot, and his thigh.

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Sargent spearheaded the U.S. attack against the Bolivians. His 20th-minute shot after a one-two with Tim Weah was blocked by a defender. He set up a shot for Christian Pulisic two minutes later, and in the 23rd minute mis-hit a volley on the turn. He got his goal in the 52nd minute in remarkable fashion.

When goalkeeper Carlos Lampe's chip to defender Luis Haquin came up short, Sargent took the perfect first touch that allowed him to swivel, face the goal, and hammer a low shot into the net.

Sargent signed with Werder Bremen upon his 18th birthday last February and has appeared in tournaments with its U-19s while training with U-23s and occasionally with the full team.

2. Christian Pulisic needs to recharge his batteries.

The Pennsylvania homecoming of Christian Pulisic did not go as planned as the 19-year-old gave his least impressive performance in his 21st U.S. national team game. Pulisic, who played 56 minutes in Borussia Dortmund's 1-1 friendly tie with LAFC last Tuesday, failed to shed defenders in his usual dynamic manner and misplayed several balls.

Pulisic's games (last nine months)
32 Bundesliga
5 UEFA Champions League
3 Europa League
1 DFB Cup
1 DFL Super Cup
5 U.S. national team
-------------------
47 total

Fortunately for the USA, the other youngsters provided enough spark for a convincing win.

3. Antonee Robinson makes a successful debut -- sets up Weah

Only two MLS players, Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono (who didn't have to make any saves) and LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman (scorer of the USA's first goal with a fierce header off a corner kick), saw action against Bolivia.

The foreign-based players included the familiar Tim Weah, a New York product who has starred for U.S. youth national teams since U-14, played for the USA at last year's U-17 World Cup, and is the son of Liberian president and former World Player of the Year George Weah. The young man who set up Weah's goal against Bolivia was the lesser known Antonee Robinson, who at left back made several effective forays down the flank.

Robinson is a 20-year-old England-born son of an American father --  former Duke player Marlon Robinson. Antonee Robinson was first called in by the USA with the U-18s in 2014 while part of Everton's youth program. He has been playing on loan for England second-tier Bolton Wanderers and in December made headlines by setting up Bolton's winning goal in its first League Championship road win in 999 days.

Youngest USA scorers
1. Christian Pulisic (17, 253 days -- 2016 vs. Bolivia)
2. Juan Agudelo (17, 359 days -- 2010 at South Africa)
3. Jozy Altidore (18, 96 days -- 2008 vs. Mexico)
4. Tim Weah (18, 102 days -- 2018 vs. Bolivia)
5. Josh Sargent (18, 104 days 2018 vs. Bolivia)

May 28 in Chester, Pa.
USA 3 Bolivia 0. Goals: Zimmerman (Corona) 37, Sargent 52, Weah (Robinson) 59.
USA – Bono; Lichaj (Olosunde, 74), Zimmerman, Palmer-Brown. Robinson, McKennie, Corona (Parks, 61), Rubin (Gooch, 73), Weah (Green, 61), Pulisic (Villafana 89), Sargent (Novakovich, 61).
Bolivia – Vizcarra (Lampe, 46); Anez, Haquin, Raldes, Baldomar (Segredo, 32), Bejarano (Maygua, 78), Saucedo, Sanchez (Vaca, 66), Ribera (Rodriguez, 77), Ali, Castillo (Miranda, 63).
Referee: Oshane Nation (Jamaica).
Att.: 11,882.

Stats: USA/Bolivia
Shots: 22/4
Shots on target: 6/0
Saves: 0/3
Corner Kicks: 12/5
Fouls: 20/6
Offside: 2/1
Yellow cards: USA - Corona 57, McKennie 65; Bolivia -- Salcedo 49.
Red cards: none.

4 comments about "USA-Bolivia: Three takeaways from the youngsters' easy win".
  1. Wooden Ships, May 29, 2018 at 7:51 a.m.

    Saw much promise with the team. Tony (Meola) I would imagine isn’t the only one to have voiced disapproval at having Sargent on the roster, because of never having played a professional game. I like Tony but he sounded like a Jersey rank n file union worker. Jurgen was ultimately acquiesced into playing CP. Tip of the hat to Sarachan, if it was his call, to play Josh. I’m very hopeful, if it comes to pass, to have Earnie named GM of the men’s national teams. With regard to CP, I felt a little bad for his homecoming (of sorts). He needs to start outside and mostly run at defenders, come in now and then and not be so heavily singled out as the man. I can’t think of another pro/national team that bestows-curses such a young player. He also might not have the Captain personality, certainly a leader, but let’s nit weigh him down. Earnie, select a manager that will insist that our players have quality skills on the ball. And, get some scouts that see the same thing. And, rid anyone, anyone that has a notion of who qualifies to wear the jersey based on birth and upbringing. 

  2. frank schoon, May 29, 2018 at 9:30 a.m.

    Listening to Tony Meola only proves you don't need any insight into the game or any knowledge to be a color commentator...It is not only Tony but the whole cadre of soccer commetators we have are so bad.....

  3. P T replied, May 29, 2018 at 1:01 p.m.

    Agree Frank. My 12 yr old son an I were laughing at the trite comments they were making about work rate, etc. as if there was an enormous effort put forth on this match. 

    Young players need time but there definitely was a gap in quality play (more on the Bolivian side).

    The passing and first touches were lacking as was the offense efforts when Gooch Green Parks and Novakovich came in. It was as if all they wanted to score and each were calling for the ball while the others were shooting long balls or poor shots.  Even with the starters they were lobbying the ball in without any way to work for an open shot. If Bolivia was not so bad our weaknesses would have glaring. 

    Pulisic should not have been playing the second half - he looked tired and the value of him getting more time was marginal at best - and to subsequently take the ball to the face (?mild concussion) makes it all together a wasted effort. 

  4. Ginger Peeler, May 29, 2018 at 11:37 a.m.

    I lost all respect for Meola when he left the national team to pursue his dream of being a profession football (American, not soccer) placekicker. He had been an excellent goalkeeper...I’ll give him that. Tony is in it for Tony. Period. Our young guys were fun to watch last night. I had watched some of Sargent’s U20 and U17 WC games and have really been looking forward to seeing him with the men’s team. He did not disappoint. I was hoping to see how he and Pulisic interacted. As luck would have it, Christian was having one of those games where he looked like so many of our youngsters have looked as they’ve stepped on the field for a national team game. So, he wasn’t his usual outstanding self. The kid’s only 19, and we already know he’s got good skills, so let’s cut him some slack. Hey, for YEARS I anticipated seeing Dempsey and Donovan playing together on the USMNT. Unfortunately, it only happened a very few times...one or the other always seemed to be sick or injured...there was always something keeping them apart. The chances of seeing Pulisic and Sargent together more often are so much better. The only thing I noticed last night that the team was missing was anticipation.   They kept waiting for a pass to come to them, rather than going to meet the ball, so a lot of passes were intercepted. I’m sure that will be corrected as these guys get more used to playing more games, and, of course, practicing with each other. Looking forward to the next game! Go USA!

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