For America’s young stars, it’s time to earn their stripes at the World Cup – Trentonian
When the United States men’s national team takes to the field to begin their World Cup campaign – a four-year campaign after their infamous failure – there will be something distinct about this group.
Like very young.
The United States, with an average age of 23.4, will be the youngest team in the tournament. In fact, that number would have been even lower had it not been for the injuries that necessitated the return of 35-year-old centre-back Tim Ream, the team’s oldest player, from the desert international.
But four years after that 2018 debacle, just how much better is this team? And is he ready to compete with the world elite?
Well, we’ll find out from Monday when USA start the Group B game against Wales at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar.
(Quick box: there’s a lot to say about this World Cup in Qatar. You’ve got accusations of corruption, human rights abuses, weather issues, schedule congestion, the list goes on and on and on. Again…)
But it is here. As unconventional as it is, it means the eyes of the world for the next month will be on the beautiful game.
For the American team, these young people will have to earn their stripes in a group which also includes England and Iran.
It was a top-down takeover project for Gregg Berhalter’s side as they automatically qualified as Concacaf’s third team behind Mexico and, yes, Canada. He won just one of seven games on the road, but went 6-0-1 at home, including another Dos a Cero against arch-rivals Mexico, which was a third win at the time. consecutive competition against El Tri.
The pre-World Cup friendlies – a 2-0 loss to Japan and a 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia – did not inspire much confidence. When this team gets in trouble, which is evident in these two warm-ups, is when they get sucked in by excessive back play – too many side and back passes in their own half – and turn the ball around in the wrong ones. locations.
Despite all that – don’t click on Twitter (if it’s still around after the weekend) if you want to keep your sanity – when the lights come on, this team will appear.
There is his talisman, Christian Pulisic, the best player, who at 24 is already a Champions League winner with Chelsea.
There’s 23-year-old Tyler Adams, a hyped defensive midfielder with the lungs of two men.
There’s Weston McKennie, 24, a two-way Italian Juventus midfielder with a knack for popping inside the box at just the right moment to use his noggin for a goal.
There’s 19-year-old Yunus Musah, a rising star midfielder in Valencia, Spain, who is on the radar of every big European club.
There’s 22-year-old Brenden Aaronson, who burst onto the scene at Leeds with club-mate Adams and can change a game with his relentless pressing.
There’s Giovanni Reyna, 20, Borussia Dortmund player, son of American football royalty – his parents both played for the national team – who, while he can stay healthy, brings a touch of class .
There’s Sergiño Dest, 19, a mercurial talent playing at AC Milan, who is scary defensively but can produce a quality moment (see his goal against Costa Rica in qualifying).
Then there’s Matt Turner. He’s old compared to those guys at 28, but he’s the starting keeper, and what a story he has. He didn’t start playing football until he went to St. Joseph Montvale High School in North Jersey to keep fit for other sports. He then played at Fairfield (yes, we have MAAC-tion at the World Cup) and then the New England Revolution before earning a transfer to Arsenal in the Premier League.
It’s an incredibly diverse and friendly group to boot.
This is exactly what you want a team representing the United States to look like.
All you have to do is go out there and do it.
It’s time to earn those stripes.
To learn more about Kyle, follow him on Twitter @kj_franko and contact him at [email protected]