USA-Peru: U.S. verdict? Young, inexperienced but plenty of potential

The U.S. men's national team closed out the home phase of its 2018 fall series with a 1-1 tie against Peru before 24,959 fans in East Hartford, Connecticut.

In what should be the last game before a new national team coach is appointed -- there is still a good chance Dave Sarachan will coach the team against England and Italy in Europe next month -- the USA fielded one of its youngest and most inexperienced teams ever.

Making nine changes to the starting lineup from the team that lost to Colombia, 4-2, on Thursday in Tampa, the USA started a backline with a combined six caps -- Cameron Carter-Vickers was the veteran with five caps, Ben Sweat had one (all of 16 minutes against Colombia) and Reggie Cannon and Aaron Long were making their international debuts -- and the frontline consisted of three teenagers -- 18-year-olds Josh Sargent and Timothy Weah, plus 19-year-old Jonathan Amon, the night's third debutant.

Here's how the game went ...

1. USA gets another result against World Cup 2018 opponent.

The USA showed its youth and inexperience, getting off to a very nervy start. Fortunately, Peru had nothing to show for its dominance in the first half -- and didn't get off a shot on target until the 70th minute.

Six of the 10 opponents since the USA was knocked out of the 2018 World Cup took teams to Russia, and it has led five of them. It was shut out by Brazil, 2-0, but otherwise led Portugal, France, Mexico and Colombia and went ahead against Peru on Sargent's goal in the 49th minute. The lead held up until the 86th minute when Edison Flores caught the U.S. defense -- sub DeAndre Yedlin and Marky Delgado -- napping and scored the equalizer.

The result left the USA with one win, two losses and three ties in the six games it led World Cup opposition, a record it would take considering its inexperience and, frankly, how badly dominated it was most of the time.

2. Sargent had makings of special center forward.

Both the USA and Werder Bremen have been patient with Sargent. Sarachan did not call the St. Louis product in for the games against Brazil and Mexico in September, and Bremen has yet to dress him for a Bundesliga game. But he has the makings of a very special player, a center forward the likes of which the USA has never seen before.

It wasn't just his goal off a free kick designed in practice on Monday that stood out. Sargent's hold-up play and ability to combine with his teammates were impressive. He played a back-heel flick to spring Amon in the first half and fed Weah for a good chance in the 47th minute after a cut that sent Peru's NYCFC defender, Alex Callens, to the ground.

In 2017 when he played at both the U-17 and U-20 World Cups, Sargent did not just score goals -- four in each of the two tournaments -- he also demonstrated a rare ability to play in a 360-degree radius, capable of moving the play in any direction.

3. Sarachan nudges kiddy corps along.

There is still a heck of a lot to be concerned about the state of the national team -- and American soccer in general -- but if Sarachan has coached his last game -- it might depend on likely successor Gregg Berhalter's availability in early November -- he should be credited with bringing along a promising corps of youth talent like the USA has never seen before.

Amon became the sixth teenager to appear for the USA in 2018, the most of any calendar year during the modern era. Sargent and Weah are still 18, Tyler Adams and Amon are 19, and Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic both recently turned 20. All play for or should soon play for European teams -- Adams is expected to be transferred to RB Leipzig in January -- and all play positions in the front six.

If you want to talk about rebuilding, they have the potential of giving the USA a solid nucleus around which to build for the next two World Cup cycles leading up to 2026.
16 comments about "USA-Peru: U.S. verdict? Young, inexperienced but plenty of potential".
  1. beautiful game, October 17, 2018 at 10:54 a.m.

    Who brought their "A" game to the table? Which player showed efficacy and consistency? Time to get serious people!!! Either the player has it or doesn't have it is the question. If he doesn't have it, delist him; and give him another chance based on club performance. What kind of potential are we talking about. The "potentioal criteria" for the last decade has been a disaster and repitiition of a stagnant evaluation process.

  2. Kent James, October 17, 2018 at 12:23 p.m.

    If the six teenage players who played this year live up to their potential, we will finally have the opportunity to challenge the best teams in the world.  I had never heard of Amon before this game, and I was impressed.  Sargent I knew about, but wasn't sure he could live up to expecations (since they're so high), but he does seem to "have it".  And none of the 6 are defenders or goalkeepers, which is usually where our strengths lie.  There is hope!

  3. R2 Dad replied, October 17, 2018 at 12:55 p.m.

    KJ, to the best of my knowledge we have never produced a world-class defender. Keepers, yes (howard, friedel). But the concern is the Nats silo still doesn't know what constitutes good 2 way play. Cannon and Sweat are more proof of this.

  4. frank schoon replied, October 17, 2018 at 4:20 p.m.

    R2, World Class?,lets just say  relatively speakingthey have played at much higher level than other
    US players. Playing keeper in England is a lot easier due to the style of game that is played in England as compared to Spain , Germany, Holland or other countries where ball placement via kicking/passing abiilities
    are  also very important, of which none of these three Friedel, Keller or Howard were even capable of....
    Neuer is world class, for example...the goalie from Juventus idem ditto..., although he might not have ball distributive qualilties but has other qualities that makes him great. There are fewer world class goalie currently unlike in the past, though

  5. R2 Dad replied, October 19, 2018 at 12:04 p.m.

    c'mon Frank. You're picking nits--you can't tell me 2014 USMNT vs Belgium, Howard wasn't a world class keeper. Or Friedel 2-0 against El Tri WC 2002. Duration as a top keeper is something else.

  6. frank schoon replied, October 19, 2018 at 6:16 p.m.

    R2, sometimes keepers can have a great game but are not necessarily world class. There is no way that I would put them in that category of World Class. The average fan in Europe if asked to name were world class keepers in the past 2 decades, I'm willing to bet none would come up with the names of Friedel, Howard, etc.....

  7. Right Winger, October 17, 2018 at 12:42 p.m.

    The best part of that game last night was Twellmans commentary on the Soccer Hall of Fame.

  8. frank schoon replied, October 17, 2018 at 4:09 p.m.

    Hall of Fame for lousy socccer commentators....

  9. Ginger Peeler replied, October 17, 2018 at 8:01 p.m.

     I often still tend to think of Twellman as a cute kid. But, I agree with you. He nailed it last night!

  10. Dikran Chamlian, October 17, 2018 at 3:46 p.m.

    Sarachan did very well by replacing veterans by teenagers and very young adults. Except Sarachan broke the most cardinal rule in soccer, I.e. Replacing a defender during the game. He did it in the last minute of the game and he was severely punished.

  11. John Munnell replied, October 17, 2018 at 7:09 p.m.

    Amen! And was it Yedlin who lost track of a defender? Say it ain’t so! We have wholes at outside back (both)...and Antonee Robinson is NOT one of the answers. Yedlin has long since disqualified himself for me. The “kids” should have been given the chance to finish their result.

  12. Kevin Leahy, October 17, 2018 at 7:54 p.m.

    The time is running out for replacing the coach! The new coach needs to start putting together a team he can work with. Please make the hire!! There are @ least 2 players in this group we need to move on from. Since national team training is very limited it, is imperative for the new coach to get what he wants before qualifying starts again.

  13. Ginger Peeler, October 17, 2018 at 7:57 p.m.

    Paul, thanks so much for your uplifting report of our young guys! I was totally discouraged by the grades the individual players were each given after the game.  I saw no signs of the hope that was present on that field last night. But I saw/felt it, As did you and others who are commenting here. It was the same hope I saw/felt in 2002 when Donovan and Beasley erupted on the scene. It was FUN!!!! They (D & B) hadn’t been exposed to our resident naysayers who mournfully urge all of us to give up all hope (you know who you are). So, thanks, guys. You’re a lot more fun when you can see that the sky’s the limit!!!! I’ve even been told that I don’t have the proper background to truly contribute to these pages. As one of the few females commenting on Soccer America, I realize I often have a different approach. But my concerns are just as valid as yours. And my observations are just as valid as yours. I appreciate (almost) all of your posts. I skim over the continual obvious lecturing on our woeful ineptness in all things soccer in the United States. I’m old enough to figure that stuff out for myself. Anyway, thanks to all of you for sharing the joy of what might be with the kids we saw last night. It’s exciting!

  14. George Varsa, October 17, 2018 at 10:20 p.m.

    i think we'll have something if the new coach will start a pulicic/seargent/weah frrontline in the future but there is no #6 on the horizon yet to feed them

  15. R2 Dad, October 20, 2018 at 5:47 p.m.

    Until we realize the inability to possess the ball = failure of midfield, we'll continue to choose the wrong midfielders and can never make a deep run at a world cup. Kids at 19 either have the skills and ability or they don't. Despite what Bradley and Arena think, playing those same mdifleilders together for the next 10 years won't make them any better at retaining the ball. Blow up the mdifield until you find players that can retain possession in the middle third at the very least.

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, October 21, 2018 at 4:56 p.m.

    R2 Dad, I don't believe it is that simple. Successful possession is a team trait. It requires good positional play and sufficient passing and first touch skills. Many times the player that looses possession is to blame, but many times the blame belongs on team mates for bad decision making, bad positioning, poor execution or all three. These are all fundamentals which players should have mastered long before age 18, as you imply, but all 11 players must have them, not just the midfielders. 

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