U.S. Soccer has announced the squad called in to play a friendly against Portugal in Leiria on November 14, the USMNT’s first match since the disaster in Trinidad & Tobago. The squad is highlighted by five uncapped players — goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez (22), defender Cameron Carter-Vickers (19), midfielders Tyler Adams (18) and Weston McKennie (19), and forward Josh Sargent (17).
It’s a youthful squad with relative experience provided by the likes of John Brooks, Tim Ream, DeAndre Yedlin, Alejandro Bedoya, Danny Williams and Juan Agudelo — the only players on the team with over 20 international appearances.
The USMNT will be managed by caretaker Dave Sarachan, the assistant to Bruce Arena throughout qualifying.
“The one word that I would use in reference to all of this is opportunity,” Sarachan said. “It’s an opportunity for many players who haven’t been in the picture that we feel have a bright future with the national team to get to measure themselves in a game against a quality opponent.
“It’s an opportunity for our national team to finish out 2017 in a positive way. It’s also just an opportunity to move on. As much as we’re still gutted from how things turned out with qualifying, we have to look ahead and finish out the year the right way.”
An eye towards the future.More than half of the #USMNT roster is 24 or younger » https://t.co/vF2RZyvTMC pic.twitter.com/GKn4vEEjsR
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) November 7, 2017
That’s evident in the squad selected to play Portugal. In Gonzalez, Bill Hamid and Ethan Horvath, we see the three goalkeepers many predicted would battle for the No. 1 spot with Tim Howard, Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando all nearing the end of their international careers.
Brooks and Miazga have been touted as the future at the heart of defense while the same has been said about the likes of Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie in midfield.
Up top, there’s no bigger talking point than Sargent. The 17-year-old becomes the first player in USMNT history to play in a U-17 World Cup, U-20 World Cup and receive a senior call-up in the same calendar year.
The biggest omission is Christian Pulisic, but that simply boils down to giving the 19-year-old a much-needed rest.
“Christian has had a very long year, not only with the national team but finding his way with Borussia Dortmund,” said Sarachan. “Between his contributions for the national team and his club, he has probably played more total games than almost anyone in our pool this year, and in doing that Christian has really pushed the limits mentally and physically. With those things in mind, this was an opportunity for Christian to get a break and recharge for the rest of an important campaign with Dortmund.”
Portugal are approaching this friendly in a similar vein despite actually preparing for next summer’s marquee event. Portugal coach Fernando Santos has excluded Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Quaresma and Nani from his squad to play Saudi Arabia on Nov. 10 and the USMNT on Nov. 14. For Santos, the matches represent an opportunity for Portugal to play against nations with styles his players “rarely” get to see.
USMNT Squad For Portugal Friendly (Club | International Appearances)
Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas | 0), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland | 3), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge | 1)
Defenders: John Brooks (Wolfsburg | 32), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Sheffield United | 0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest | 13), Matt Miazga (Vitesse | 3), Tim Ream (Fulham | 26), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna | 14), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United | 48)
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas | 16), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls | 0), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union | 65), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland | 2), Weston McKennie (Schalke | 0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution | 3), Danny Williams (Huddersfield Town | 22)
Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution | 26), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City | 3), C.J. Sapong (Philadelphia Union | 2), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen | 0)