Dave Sarachan: 'You couldn't have scripted it any better'

If this was the last time Dave Sarachan coached the U.S. men's national team, it was a game he'll remember it for a long time.

Starting the second-youngest team in the modern history of the national team program, the USA held France, one of the favorites to win the 2018 World Cup, to a 1-1 tie. When it came to grading the players and the coaches, the sports daily L'Equipe gave Sarachan a solid edge on his French counterpart with a "7," compared to a "4" for Didier Deschamps, who has taken France to the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup and second place at Euro 2016.

"You couldn't have scripted it any better," Sarachan said of how the game played out for his players. "The whole idea of programming games like this is to offer young players the opportunities to understand what it's like to play away, in front of a home crowd which was fantastic tonight for the French team, against what I think is a team that can legitimately win this World Cup."

Les Bleus outshot the USA, 19-2, but could only put eight shots on target. Still, the player of the game was Columbus Crew keeper Zack Steffen, who made a strong case that he should be the No. 1 keeper moving into the next four-year cycle.

"There were a couple of moments tonight that were spectacular from his free kick [on Nabil Fekir] towards the end and his save that had to be pushed out wide [on Ousmane Dembele]," said Sarachan. "I thought he was outstanding. I think he offers a good calm presence, and goalies are expected to make saves when you have to and he did that tonight. Zack has certainly made a great case for himself."

After aligning the USA in a 4-1-4-1 formation for the first five games of his tenure, Sarachan chose to play five in the back, bunkering down against one of the most dangerous attacks in the world. He was particularly happy that the defense held on after conceding an equalizer to Kylian Mbappe. A week earlier, the USA blew a 1-0 lead against Ireland, falling, 2-1, on a late goal in Dublin.

"Defensively, I thought our team did a terrific job in terms of understanding what we were trying to do, the shape throughout the match, the ability to close the match out, which painfully we didn't do it against Ireland," he said. "We talked about that. We knew that we would do a lot of defending tonight with the quality of the French team and their players. I thought overall, I can't point out a poor performance."

The trio of captain Wil Trapp, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams has merged as Sarachan's go-to combination in midfield. The young Americans aged 25, 19 and 19 went up against the likes of Paul Pogba and held their own, though Sarachan believes they will need to do better.

"I think each one tonight had moments when I thought they were a little shaky with the ball," he said. "But again, I think it's very understandable that when the game gets fast and you have a team like France that has lot of numbers centrally ... but I thought they came through it OK. Because they understand one another, I thought for the most their movement when they had to cover for one another was consistently good all night. If I had to be critical, I would only say that when these games get real fast, can their feet get a little bit better with the ball. But overall they were very good, very solid."
9 comments about "Dave Sarachan: 'You couldn't have scripted it any better'".
  1. beautiful game, June 10, 2018 at 10:51 a.m.

    One good result in a friendly and the kudos are about to anoint the squad of the future.

  2. Karl Schreiber, June 10, 2018 at 4:02 p.m.

    Agree. Steffen willbe in some people's notebooks. Too bad Srgent could not show his stuff! - My main question however: What is the value of the continuous talking by the so-called game announcer and color commentator??

  3. Wooden Ships replied, June 10, 2018 at 4:43 p.m.

    Haha. I knew Taylor when he was a tyke and he was chatty then. Good man, but US commentators (most) like to hear themselves talk. If you know the game, from a players perspective, they really aren’t adding much, in fact it’s distracting.

  4. Ginger Peeler replied, June 11, 2018 at 12:43 a.m.

    I was bitterly disappointed when I realized we had Ian Darke calling the game. And it sounds as if he’ll be calling World Cup games, too. The man constantly makes incredibly inane comments throughout games, but seems to be prized by the network. I have to admit to often yelling at the tv following one of his many, ridiculous remarks. Taylor Twellman is a cute kid who had to give up playing the game due to multiple concussions at a time when it looked as if he had a very bright future playing with our national team. But he’s a yes man for Darke. I suppose he doesn’t know any better. Whatever, I enjoyed watching the game. The kids never gave up against a powerhouse like France...and they managed to hold the French scoreless for some time. Since the U.S.  defense has been suspect for some time, it was a pleasure to see the youngsters hanging in there. I couldn’t help but smile when Green scored his goal...perhaps Jurgen really knew what he was doing when he brought Green onto the team years ago. It was nice to see us making forays into the French side of the field occasionally. I look forward to seeing these young guys play together again. 

  5. frank schoon replied, June 11, 2018 at 10:12 a.m.

    There needs to be a lot of changes in US soccer ,one ,we need to get a great! coach, two ,develop a style of play, and three, we need to change our soccer commentating in order to focus on improving the knowledge of the viewer about the game. The level of commentating as far as actually learning something is more on the  intellectually level apropo to those who bring drums and tooters to the game. It is so important to have real knowledgeable people involved in commentating, for that will help and further improve the growth  and understanding of our soccer because coaches/players watching would actually learn more aspects, and deeper insights about the game. Just imagine ,for example,  a Louis van Gaal doing the color commentating and what you can actually learn about the game. I used to watch and tape many Dutch soccer games when Cruyff did the color commentating. It wasn't the game itself that I wanted to tape but just what Cruyff stated for when you listen to him you actually learn interesting aspects and realize you watching the same game but you don't see what he sees. This way you eventually get to enter into his frame of mind in how you should see the game. THIS is what we need in improving the level of understanding the game. I hope ,for example , Guardiola would do some color commentating and explain what he sees is wrong or what should have happen or who didn't do the job to the extend that yes we need to learn from the criticisms and game insights in order to improve our game. Currently , we  our commentating is on a high school level.

  6. John Soares, June 10, 2018 at 9:39 p.m.

    It was only one game, yes.
    BUT it was a very good very fun game to watch.
    Very promising display from very a young group.
    ***AGREE, can we get these "commentators" to just call the game
    or simply shut up. Often, the chatter doesn't even pertain to the game we are watching. 

  7. Bruce Jugan, June 10, 2018 at 9:40 p.m.

    Why didn’t Christian Pulisic play?

  8. frank schoon replied, June 11, 2018 at 10:28 a.m.

    Because he needs a rest....

  9. Wallace Wade, June 10, 2018 at 10:09 p.m.

    Do what I do, either watch on the Spanish broadcast or turn the volume down. You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult to learn how to present these matches as well as MLS matches correctly. We don’t need or want constant talking and sideline reporters. Sorry.

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