USMNT youth movement gave us a year of incredible highs and lows

Tyler Adams celebrates Weston McKinney’s goal last month while Christian Pulisic jumps on McKinney’s shoulders like a happy little boy. Useful and fun all around.
Photo: Getty Images

As mentioned many times before, what USMNT really tried and achieved in 2021 is unheard of in international football. The entire menu was not handed over to the children at once. Typically, teams try to blend generations, mixing in geriatric vets (around 30) with those in the prime of their lives (24-25) while spraying hot shots that will carry the flag for the next decade (18-20). The United States has overtaken these first two, with the exception of mainly Christian Pulisic, except that he is only 23 years old. He’s not in his prime yet, and he’s basically the steady hand or the wise (let’s give him Gandalf’s crew to enter the court with him). he’s crazy.

Parody The Simpsons’baby admiralThe USMNT has basically done that in real life.

So when reviewing this, one has to balance the chaotic nature that has arisen in this kind of experiment/turn/turn the tables. The results may not look as good as you’d like; The offerings are not as polished or consistent as you would like them to be; But they will never be perfect. Because the whole team, and the manager, was going through all of this for the first time. Your kids will be knocking on the car. You just pray they don’t drive her into a lake.

But the high points… oh, the high points. They are mostly three wins over Mexico in the matches that are counted. Some friendly leagues in Dallas or Phoenix aren’t set up just to make some money. All of these were for something. The United States won them all. Perhaps the most encouraging thing is the evolution in how they do this.

A League of Nations victory, perhaps in the most turbulent match in international history, was just about holding out the madness, keeping nerves while lagging, and finding a way. The Gold Cup win, done by Team B to C, was all about strong defense, Mexico’s frustration, and your place selection. And winning Cincinnati in the World Cup qualifiers was simply facing them off the field, especially in the second half.

And it’s something the United States has never done. Many victories and historic ones have been achieved. But they were mostly about defending, responding, and then holding on. The United States dominated the last match against Mexico, and took it to them. Perhaps having such a young band who didn’t know anything better, and Mexico couldn’t be brushed aside just because they felt like it, was such a blessing.

But the waves break and retreat. The performance in Panama was tasteless, perhaps the last rattle for some Major League Soccer interlopers on the team when a schedule crunch didn’t require their presence. The draw with Jamaica in Kingston was a disappointment, as grabbing the octagon by the throat was available to them. They sometimes threw themselves into the two performance poles in the same match, being full clown shoes in the first half against Honduras, then put up four in the second.

And all of this is normal, given the vacillation of young people at this stage. The flight was quiet.

The most important thing, in the long run, is the number of players the team has discovered who will be mainstays going forward. We knew Pulisic. Tyler Adams and Weston McKinney (When He’s Not horny break the rules) We did that too. We did not know Younes Musa. He became a foolproof start before his nineteenth birthday. Tim Weah became an important piece of depth during Jiu Reina’s injury absence. Miles Robinson and Walker Zimmerman moved from the B-team Gold Cup in the summer to key players going forward in the first team, and Both are rumored to have Many suitors across the pond to take them away. Ricardo Pepe at times looked like a US No. 9 he simply hadn’t before (and sometimes he didn’t, and this would happen to an 18-year-old, but in the desert where we lived we’d drink sand). Matt Turner has taken his goalkeeping gloves away from Zack Steffen for some time there, as USMNT is not without controversy over goalkeepers (my heart aches for Keeler vs. Friedel rejoices).

Most will refer to Moses as the greatest development, and I wouldn’t argue with that. I’m biased towards Miles Robinson, just because a USMNT close support position has been hard to find as the focal point at the other end of the field. Robinson can make the game look easy in a way that few can do with anticipation and instincts, and if he moves to Europe either this winter or next summer, he’ll feel like he’s going to be a real star.

And perhaps most importantly, the United States will never have to do this again. First, this is their last qualifying session in about six years. They don’t have to qualify for the World Cup they host in 2026. So it would be different.

Second, they would be hard-pressed to stop the torch’s passing from one generation to the next with the same difficulty they did four years ago. Quite simply, the United States did not develop anything beyond the Dempsey crop of Bradley Howard and before this. And that is why they sniffed at Russia 2018. The old guard was very large, and only Pulisic was behind them. Bobby Wood? Darlington nagby? Paul Areola? Get the fuck out of here.

The sudden hunger from European clubs for American talent (due to relative affordability and return on investment), as well as MLS clubs that have honed their development systems to take advantage of those European offerings, should ensure that the generation behind this has to be even harder. Who came before. And because of the still stunned youth of this national team, there is plenty of time to develop this generation!

Having survived the risky and unique transformation to only the smallest of options possible, USA and coach Greg Berhalter don’t have to worry about blending generations and determining the time for 31-year-old Player A to make way for 20-year-old Player B yr The headache that can come from snooping on a veteran from the start 11. It’s just this generation. No more wondering how Michael Bradley was knocked out of the squad when he can’t move anymore but is so well established due to experience and reputation.

It was wild. It took years of our lives. In the end it was more helpful than we expected. We don’t need to do it again.


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