The U.S. national team’s September friendlies had a bittsweet feel to them, between being dominated by Brazil and beating a young Mexico side. The team’s next set of friendlies won’t carry the same level of hype, but they will be just as challenging to a young team still learning how to play as a group.
The big question for interim USMNT coach Dave Sarachan is should he go even younger with his group?
The answer is yes, and if Sarachan agrees, then we should see an even younger roster for the next set of matches, and at the top of the list of players Sarachan should call is Josh Sargent.
The Werder Bremen striker is still waiting for his Bundesliga debut, but the 18-year-old forward has been lighting up the German U-19 level, scoring goals in almost every match and making a good case to be part of Bremen’s first team.
Sargent isn’t the only American teenager impressing in Europe. Speedy winger Jonathan Amon has looked very sharp in Denmark with FC Nordsjaelland, and looks very much like the type of fast wide midfielder the USMNT needs more of.
Romain Gall isn’t a teenager, but his exploits in Sweden have earned him a look with the national team. The USMNT needs an infusion of winger talent and Gall has the versatility to contribute in multiple areas.
Given the fact MLS is in its stretch run, and there are several MLS matches being played in and around the international window, the October roster should be heavy on foreign-based players, with several MLS-based regulars being allowed to stay with their club teams.
So who will Sarachan call on to feature in a pair of challenging friendlies in October? Here is a look at the players we could see called up to face Colombia and Peru:
Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath, Alex Bono
These same three goalkeepers were called in September, and it should be more of the same, unless Toronto FC requests that Bono stay put in order to have him for a crucial match against Orlando City the day after the Peru friendly. TFC has a capable back-up in Clint irwin, but if Sarachan decides to leave Bono home he could call on a veteran like Brad Guzan. If Sarachan wanted to bring in a young goalkeeper, he could consider Jonathan Klinsmann.
DeAndre Yedlin, Shaq Moore, John Brooks, Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tim Parker, Eric Lichaj, Antonee Robinson
There shouldn’t be too many changes from the group of defenders we saw last time around. Young fullbacks Moore and Robinson should continue to get looks, and while FC Dallas’ Reggie Cannon has played well enough to earn a call, FC Dallas has a game during the international break so now may not be the time to give him his first USMNT camp. Another defender Sarachan could consider is Brendan Hines-Ike, who is starting regularly in Belgium with Kortrijk.
Carter-Vickers has started just one match for Swansea City since joining on loan, and hasn’t appeared in either of Swansea’s past two matches. Will that open the door for Sarachan to take a look at someone else, like Aaron Long?
Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Kellyn Acosta, Jonathan Amon, Romain Gall, Julian Green, Lynden Gooch
Sarachan has made Will Trapp his captain this year, but with a chance to bring together the central midfield trio of Pulisic, McKennie and Adams, this camp will be a good one to let Trapp stay in Columbus and let the youngsters play together.
McKennie has recovered from the leg injury that threatened to keep him out of the October friendlies, which should allow Sarachan to partner him with Adams in defensive midfield roles behind Pulisic, who heads into the October friendlies in outstanding form.
Will Sarachan give Amon and Gall their first senior national team looks? Both are deserving, and will give the USMNT flanks some much-needed fresh blood. Paul Arriola isn’t likely to be called in given D.C. United’s important games during the international break, which should make it easier for Sarachan to bring in some new faces.
Bobby Wood, Andrija Novakovich, Timothy Weah, Josh Sargent
Sarachan made it clear he felt that leaving Sargent in Germany during the September international break was better for his development, and while you can understand the rationale, doing it again in October will feel like overkill. Sargent is a special talent, and has been lighting up the Werder Bremen reserve team. He did well with his first taste of the USMNT back in May, and now is the perfect time to bring him back.
Novakovich is in outstanding form in the Netherlands, and not only does he deserve a return to the national team, he absolutely need to get some minutes in the October friendlies. Sarachan turned to veteran Gyasi Zardes, but Novakovich is well past due for his first national team start.