A year after the USA lost to Trinidad & Tobago, knocking it out of 2018 World Cup, it entered its final preparations for Thursday's game against Colombia in Tampa.
Dave Sarachan, who
was an assistant coach in Couva when the USA lost to T&T, has coached the USA in its eight games since then and says he has seen the team get better each time it has assembled, beginning with a
1-1 tie at Portugal last November. USA since Couva: 1.
(T, 1-1) 2. Bosnia & Herzegovina
(T, 0-0) 3.
(W, 1-0) 4. Bolivia
(W, 3-0) 5. @Ireland
1-2) 6. @France
(T, 1-1) 7. Brazil
(L, 0-2) 8. Mexico
"We've gotten a number of games under our belt with a lot of fresh faces, new faces, young guys that we feel have a
real future in this program," he said on Wednesday. "I'm pretty proud of this group that, the way they've handled things. It's business as usual; they come in and want to stake a claim."
Sarachan acknowledged the USA has been in a transition phase, not like other major programs, only its began earlier because it didn't go to Russia.
"We've established a bit of an
identity with this particular group.," he said. "We've been building each and every friendly that we've brought them in. Our starting points have been just a little bit further along each time. That's
what teams begin to do. I think looking back on all of these friendlies since Trinidad until now, there's been a progression. It's by no means a finished progression, but it's moving along in a good
He says the identity of the team remains the same even with the introduction of many new faces. Eight players who played in the 1-0 win over Mexico in Nashville on
Sept. 11 made their international debuts on Sarachan's watch.
“It is a broad statement," he said, "but in the years that we’ve all followed the national team, through
many cycles, the takeaway usually is that when you watch the U.S. play, you see a team that is organized and competes and plays without a lot of hesitancy or fear of an opponent. The messaging I and
my staff have tried to continually harp on with this group is to check all those same boxes. Each and every time it is still about the honor of wearing this crest. It is still about competing. It is
still about trying to win games. It is still about being yourself and showing your personality."
He says that is what fans see in his young team.
"I think when
I’ve bumped into people over the past few months who have watched our teams, that is one of the first things that is said. ‘Really enjoying watching your team’ and that they are
‘competing and playing hard’ and ‘playing without fear’ so I hope that continues. That is when you see the real personalities and players play without any kind of handcuffs on