When the USMNT rolled out the roster loaded with youth versus Portugal, the game was bound to be filled with many interesting scenarios. From Ethan Horvath’s fumbled goal to Weston McKennie’s superb performance, there was no shortage of storylines. Yet, as the international break is now over, the question still persists as to where the USMNT goes from here.
The first thing on the agenda is undoubtedly finding a permanent coach to replace Bruce Arena. Dave Sarachan is nothing more than a temporary substitute. The USMNT needs to find a coach that will have a plan of attack to take the next step with the team. Whoever ends up as the manager for the US Men’s team has a long period of time to put their vision into action as the next major tournament for the team won’t be until the CONCACAF in 2020. While some names have emerged as candidates, its likely that a new manager won’t be chosen for quite some time.
The biggest takeaway from the USMNT draw against Portugal would likely be the status of youth in the squad. While it’s true that the team brought a group of players unlikely to mirror a squad that would be named for a major international match, one cannot help but be intrigued by the level of play of some of the youth in the team. The backline combination of John Brooks and Matt Miazga is something to be developed over time. With both players still in the early stages of their careers, their development as a tandem will be an important part of the USMNT future.
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At the goalkeeper position, it will be difficult to figure out where to go following the match. Ethan Horvath’s blunder, followed by other risky moments throughout the game certainly raise questions about his ability to represent the national team. His performance led many supporters to call for Zack Steffen to be considered in the future. The Columbus Crew goalkeeper has played brilliantly in recent games and is showing a tremendous amount of poise despite his youth. Whoever ends up between the posts for the USMNT, it will likely be a while before supporters are content without Brad Guzan or Tim Howard in goal.
Finally, the attacking third is drumming up some excitement in the US. With performances in the U-21 World Cup that highlighted some up and coming stars, the strong play of McKennie and Acosta in the Portugal tie, as well as the players already having made appearances for the US team, fans have a right to be excited.
With no World Cup to look forward to, the USMNT will focus its efforts on developing for the future. While the talent that exists in the youth ranks is exciting, a lot needs to be done structurally with the team before they will be ready for any major competitions.