Autumn Friendlies: USMNT Set to Take on Big Names This Fall
With international friendlies against some of the world’s best teams later this year, the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team should gain valuable experiences from the matches.
Updated: June 30, 2018 • 9:00 AM ET
The USMNT has big matches coming up this fall.
The United States may have missed out on the World Cup this year, but with the latest announcement of their upcoming friendlies to close out 2018, it appears that the USMNT has decided to throw their own World Cup.
Granted, these are just friendlies and more akin to assessing young talent while giving players the opportunity to mesh and get valuable minutes. But all the same, since missing the World Cup this year, the USSF has taken great strides to help get U.S. soccer back on track.
The young Americans will end the year playing matches against Brazil, England, Italy and Mexico. Though this young, vibrant team shouldn’t expect the full-frontal of three of the most elite soccer teams in the world, it’ll still be the perfect opportunity to test their ire.
The point of friendlies isn’t really to simply win, but rather to give coaches an opportunity to evaluate their players. For the U.S. moving forward, especially with the Gold Cup coming next summer, it’s imperative that they prepare their young squad for the road ahead. And even though fans shouldn’t expect to see the full sides of Brazil, Italy and England, don’t expect lackluster rosters either. These countries’ B and even C squads are better than most of the world’s A teams.
It’s no secret that the U.S. has fallen hard in soccer. It’s not simply the missing of the World Cup this year, but the state U.S. soccer finds itself in. The USMNT could have and should have made the World Cup this year, as they were better than Panama and Honduras. Yet, the U.S. failed because of poor decision-making from the National Team all the way down to youth development.
The state of youth development was, and still is, pitiful. If nothing else, playing against strong sides better prepares current prospects and lets them test themselves against some of the word’s best. The U.S. has a long way to go before it can truly stand on the same level as the elites of the soccer world, but it’s slowly inching in the right direction.
The result against France in their last friendly earlier this month may not be indicative that the U.S. has propelled itself back onto the global stage, but it was a promising showing against a French side in the midst of preparing for the World Cup. It may have been just a friendly, but that shouldn’t diminish the optimism for this young American side. That was a strong French team that stood as one of the favorites for the World Cup. Now, the U.S. looks to carry that momentum into the end of the year.
As frustrating as U.S. play has been this past year, fans shouldn’t go into the friendlies with full expectations of winning, nor should they succumb to pessimistic worries should the U.S. continue to lose. Don’t misunderstand, securing victories against any of these sides should be celebrated, and rightly so. But it’s most unlikely, considering the current state of the roster.
Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that this young American team will gain nothing beating teams that they should beat. There’s little to nothing to be gained winning friendlies against the likes of Guatemala, New Zealand or Belize, other than feeling good.
The biggest question moving forward is whether the U.S. can sustain some sort of success, while seeking out active improvements from the young prospects who will fill up the roster for official matches in the near future. Yet, despite this being a rebuilding process, the U.S. should remain optimistic, as there are already several great young players who have shown flashes of brilliance, such as Tim Weah, Bobby Wood, Tim Parker, Zack Steffen and of course, the face of U.S. soccer, Christian Pulisic.
Even Julian Green, who scored the USMNT’s lone goal against France in his first start for the U.S. since Oct. 11, 2016, has shown that he might become the player Jurgen Klinsmann hoped he would be when he recruited him back in 2014.
Tough times lie ahead for the U.S. But if they continue to venture in the right direction, they’ll be able to finally get over the hurdles that have plagued them for so long.
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