The United States Men’s National Team took to the field for the first time since February in Wales, taking on the Welsh and Panama over the last two weeks. This is the first glimpse fans got of the potential of the U.S. as we drift ever closer to the 2022 World Cup. The U.S. failed to qualify in 2018 and expectations are high for the squad to rebound and qualify for the tournament this time around. Here’s what you need to know from the past two friendlies.
Wales 0-0 U.S.
This game was fairly stale overall. The U.S. played out a 0-0 draw with a Welsh side playing on their home turf. It is important to note that this is a Welsh side that did not field many of their best players, including star Gareth Bale. Despite that, there are a few promising takeaways from the draw. The U.S. started a squad with an average age of just 22 and many of these youngsters are only going to gain experience as we get closer to the world cup. Ten of the starters for the U.S. are seeing game time in Europe. While the match itself lacked goals, the U.S. held 61% possession and held an 87% pass accuracy. This can be attributed to the Americans’ the strongest area of the pitch, the midfield. Manager Gregg Berhalter employs three in midfield and Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie anchor a midfield with McKennie providing cover in a more defensive role, with Adams working box to box moving the ball around and keeping defenses moving, opening up runs for attackers. The third midfielder in the Wales game was Valencia center-mid Yunus Musah, who is capable of playing a more attacking-minded CM, even driving out to the wing. His role should become more defined as he gets more game time, but at 17, he is certainly on the right track. Another important note from the game is we likely witnessed the backline the U.S. will field for the tournament. Experienced defender John Brooks will lead a line of Antonee Robinson at left-back, current Barca player Sergino Dest at right-back with Matt Miazga joining Books at center-back. A good blend of youth at fullbacks with Dest in particular very capable of making runs forward to contribute to the attack and whip in crosses.
U.S. 6-2 Panama
Attacking talent is where we switch to next as the U.S. put six goals on the board against Panama. Kansas City native Nicholas Gioacchini got the start up front alongside Giovanni Reyna, who scored, and Ulysses Llyanez. Gioacchini grabbed two goals, the 20-year-old adding his name on a growing list of striking options for the Americans. Another name on that list is Sebastian Soto, who also grabbed two goals in quick succession to put the game out of reach. Creativity was plentiful from the U.S. with fullbacks pushing forward to provide options to cross from out wide. These options to attack from out wide once again are spawned from McKennie, Adams, and Musah’s ability to anchor the center of the pitch and keep possession (61% in this match) and high pass accuracy (87%). Richard Ledezma, who came of the bench in this game, was an example of how the U.S. was able to dominate the wings, as the 20-year-old swung in cross after cross setting up both of Soto’s goals.
Fans should be excited about the prospect of this USMNT squad. With so many promising players from back to front able to play at the same high level, the U.S. will have depth going forward. These two friendlies showed off the promising future of the squad and if pliers like Dest, Musah, Adams, McKennie, Soto, Gioacchini, Reyna, and so many others can stay healthy and continue to get game time at the club level there id no question the U.S. will not only qualify for the World Cup but COMPETE and get results. Expectations are high and many of these players still need to grow into their role in this team, but that will come with experience and while these players are young, they are hungry and are well on their way to achieve more positive results for The U.S. going forward.
Edited by Tyler Kading