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.