Legacy of Dave Sarachan's seven months in charge of the U.S. national team

One shouldn't put too much into the USA's 1-1 tie with France on Saturday night.

L'Equipe, the Paris sports daily that continues to dominate soccer coverage, cautioned that all hope of winning the World Cup shouldn't be lost because Les Bleus couldn't beat a weak American team. Conversely, that the USA got a result against one of the favorites to win the World Cup before more than 59,000 fans at the Groupama Stadium doesn't count for much.

After all, the USA beat Italy away in 2012 and the Netherlands and Germany in back-to-back games in 2015, and where did that get it?

It's tempting to counter that Saturday's game was different -- the team Dave Sarachan  threw out was the second-youngest team to ever start a game in the modern era of the national team -- but, given the circumstances, we're trying to latch on to any ray of hope.

The overriding sentiment about Sarachan's youngsters is, where were these guys four years ago, at the beginning of the last cycle, or eight years ago, for that matter?

Between 2010 and 2014, Jurgen Klinsmann covered up any deficiencies in the U.S. development system by relying on German-Americans like Jermaine Jones and Fabian Johnson. Christian Pulisic's arrival on the scene two years ago masked those continuing deficiencies. (Would the USA have even been in contention to qualify for the 2018 World Cup on the final day of the Hexagonal but for the kid from Hershey?)

It's been suggested that if Bruce Arena had introduced Sarachan's youngsters, the USA would not be in the position it is today, watching the World Cup from the outside. Sure, Michael Bradley could have used Weston McKennie at his side in Couva, but McKennie had at that point started all of three games for Schalke 04. (And as a practical matter was injured.)

The youngsters who have stood out during Sarachan's run -- Zack Steffen in goal, Matt Miazga at center back, Wil Trapp, Tyler Adams and McKennie in midfield -- plus Pulisic give the next coach something the USA has not had for years, a core of very young players to build on for the future. Nothing more, nothing less.

After Saturday's match in Decines, Sarachan was justifiably proud of what his players have accomplished, but he was under no illusion about where the team stands. The trio of Trapp, McKennie and Adams has developed a nice understanding, but Sarachan was quick to point out the technical flaws in their games. (And makes one think how nice if would have been to have the technically smoother Jonathan Gonzalez as another piece in the new midfield mix.)

If the goal is to qualify for the next World Cup, the USA is off to a better start than it was four years ago. But if the goal is to be a serious World Cup contender -- say, as co-host in 2026 -- we're still dreaming.

The quality still isn't there, nor is the quantity. You just have to look at all this year's World Cup contenders -- teams like Germany, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Belgium and France -- and they have two, three, four established players to choose from at every position.

The USA? It struggles to cobble together a complete team.

The lineup Sarachan put out on Saturday night was heavy on European-based players -- seven in all -- but out of the seven, only McKennie is certain of where he will be playing and that he will be playing in the same division he spent last season in 2018-19. Of the rest, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Antonee Robinson, Julian Green and Miazga are all coming off loan spells, Shaq Moore was in and out of Levante's first team, and Bobby Wood's Hamburg was relegated.

On that basis, we should tip our hat to what Sarachan and the USA accomplished against France on Saturday night.

2 comments about "Legacy of Dave Sarachan's seven months in charge of the U.S. national team".
  1. P T, June 10, 2018 at 6:53 p.m.

    McKennie constantly is making cheap shots - he is 2/2 in the past two games. I personally don't want a Ramos style player.  The defense was better than the previous game but there are still glaring holes that the French did not capitalize on. It could have been easily 3-1 France. 

  2. John Soares, June 11, 2018 at 1:36 p.m.

    Of course it was just a friendly with no promise of what the future will bring.
    It was however a tie in France against France's A team. A good promising display.
    Lots of enegy that leaves room for hope.
    Based on several comments/editorials,
    it's almost as if there is dissapointment the USA team was not blown away.
    Just so some (glass is always empty) could say...see I told you so.

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