This transition phase for the USA team is a grand opportunity for players like Green to break through, but without a steady diet of
solid club performances at a good level, that opportunity will dissipate.
2. Steffen the star, others not so much.
After a disturbing display against Ireland by Bill Hamid, Steffen seemed certain to start in Lyon, and the Crew SC keeper showed the same mix of agility and poise he regularly churns out in MLS (and also did for the U.S. U-20s).
A wonderful double save in the final moments preserved the tie and he’d already been called upon in several situations as the Americans labored to contain one of top attacking units in the world. Like many positions, the starting keeper’s job is not guaranteed to Brad Guzan or anyone else, and on this huge, bright stage Steffen did more than enough to take a few bows.
A back line of five defenders won some duels and lost a few. Matt Miazga and Tim Parker were probably best of the bunch, though Miazga had to depart early after suffering a head gash in a frightening collision with French striker and Chelsea teammate Olivier Giroud.
None of the three starting midfielders – Wil Trapp, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams – could hold the ball and pass it effectively, though they dug into tackles and did what they could to harrass their talented opponents. Playing three against a four-man French midfield required more work from the defenders and forwards to balance out the numbers, but the USA seldom moved quickly and cohesively enough to cope. This was a learning game as to what a top-flight national team can do, even in a friendly: smother you to get the ball and then cut you into little pieces.
3. Sarachan deserves thanks and an extension.
As a new regime headed by president Carlos Cordeiro invoked changes after the USSF election in February, the federation gave interim head coach Dave Sarachan a contract extension that expires at the end of this month.
In six games under Sarachan, the U.S. compiled a 2-1-3 (W-L-T) record, but that is almost irrelevant in evaluating his performance, or rather, that of the teams he selected and prepared. He brought in a fleet of younger players, which was expected, and as expected the displays ranged from encouraging (1-1 ties with Portugal and France) to disappointing (2-1 loss to Ireland,).
One can quibble some choices and his failure to use the six-sub maximum in each of the six games, but the players responded to the environment and culture he created in very uncertain circumstances.
Unless the head-coach search whips up a hire about a month after general manager Earnie Stewart officially takes over Aug. 1, the U.S. will need a head coach for friendlies in September (Mexico and opponent to be confirmed). And if a quick hire is made, he might not be immediately available. What happens in many cases is that the current -- in this case interim -- head coach stays on as the new man gets up to speed.
At the very least, Sarachan, 64, should get another extension to the end of September or the end of the year. He played professionally and has been coaching for more than 40 years. He’s a long-time servant to the federation who has worked with young players as well as experienced pros and at the college level, and in MLS as well as for the federation. He’s got value going forward.
June 9 in Decines
France 1 USA 1. Goals: Green 44; Mbappé 78.
France – Lloris; Mendy (Hernandez 66), Sidibé (Pavard 74), Umtiti, Varane; Kante, Matuidi (Tolisso 58), Pogba; Giroud (Dembele 58), Griezmann (Fekir 69), Mbappe (Lemar 87).
USA -- Steffen; Moore (Yedlin, 74), Carter-Vickers, Miazga (Palmer-Brown 57), Parker, Robinson (Villafana 82); Adams, Trapp, McKennie; Green (Corona 70), Wood (Sargent 74).
Yellow cards: USA – Moore 68, McKennie 79. France – None.
Referee: William Collum (Scotland).
Stats: USA / FRA
Shots: 2 / 19
Shots on Goal: 1 / 8
Saves: 7 / 0
Corner Kicks: 9 / 2
Fouls: 4 / 14
Offside: 0 / 4