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Steffen’s status and Bradley’s return headline key USMNT’s talking points – football news

There is something that feels a little desperate about looking for bright spots from a 4-2 loss, but when you’re talking about a young team being put through a gauntlet of difficult opponents, silver linings can become standard procedure.

Such is the case of the U.S. national team, which suffered a 4-2 loss to Colombia on Thursday in a match that was — save for one 10-minute stretch — thoroughly lopsided. Colombia showed its class and ruthlessness in identifying the fault lines in the U.S. defense and attacking them like a colony of fire ants.

The result was a one-sided loss that wasn’t all that surprising but was still painful to endure. Not just for the young Americans who were reminded once again how far they still have to go to reach the level of the world’s top teams, but also for U.S. fans, many of whom had to know deep down that a beatdown was more likely than an upset.

There were silver linings though, sprinkled among the charred remains of what passed for a U.S. defense. There was a goalkeeper who managed to impress even among the deluge of Colombian goals. There was the young winger who flashed the magic we are all waiting to see become a regular occurrence. There was also the inspired 10 minutes to start the second half that gave U.S. fans something to feel good about, even if it ended almost as quickly as it began.

There were those silver linings, but there were far more issues that went unresolved and uncomfortable realities exposed about the current USMNT.

Here is a closer look at five key takeaways from Thursday’s loss to Colombia:


Steffen solidifies starter status


Zack Steffen USA Colombia 10122018

When Miguel Borja’s bicycle kick skimmed off his fingertips and into the USA net for Colombia’s fourth goal, Zack Steffen couldn’t hide his disgust. He opened his mouth wide, stuck out his tongue and let out a desperate breath at a night that he would probably rather forget.

The reality is the match against Colombia was a good one for Steffen, who kept the starting role even with the arrival of veteran Brad Guzan in camp. Steffen has been the first-choice U.S. goalkeeper for most of the year and he only solidified his standing by making several top-quality saves to keep the match from becoming a blowout even earlier.

Does that mean he will start against Peru? Not necessarily. Sarachan could decide he wants to have a look at Guzan with what should be an even younger defense than the one that faced Colombia. But if Steffen keeps the starting job it will be well deserved and another sign that he has pulled away from the pack in the race to be the top U.S. goalkeeper in the next World Cup qualifying cycle.


Robinson was roasted, but is still a prospect to invest in


Antonee Robinson USMNT Colombia 10122018

Antonee Robinson probably had nightmares last night of Santiago Arias racing past him and James Rodriguez invading his space on the field.

Who could blame him? Colombia went after Robinson’s side of the U.S. defense for much of the night and far too often Robinson was beaten badly. In the first half, we saw the U.S. defense struggle to provide Robinson with ample support to deal with the onslaught, but in the second half Robinson simply made mistake after mistake, overwhelmed by Arias.

The natural reaction to Robinson’s awful performance was to toss him onto the scrap heep of failed left back experiments, but to do so would ignore a few things. First, he was tortured by an attack led by Bayern Munich star Rodriguez and Arias, who plies his trade at Atletico Madrid. We’re talking two veterans of top leagues with World Cup experience taking turns abusing a 21-year-old fullback who is in just his second full season as a professional starter (and it should be noted that Arias also torched Ben Sweat, who replaced Robinson, on the sequence leading to Colombia’s fourth goal).

Unlike the Brazil friendly, where Robinson rebounded from a rough first half to play very well in the second half, the Wigan defender never did find his footing and wound up enduring a second half that was among the worst ever turned in by a U.S. defender.

The bright side? Robinson is only 21, with the tools to still develop into a very good defender. Let’s not forget that DeAndre Yedlin’s defensive instincts weren’t the best when he broke into the pro ranks, but now he is a regular starter in the English Premier League and Colombia didn’t seem to want to test his side of the field very often on Thursday. Robinson also helped set up the first U.S. goal with a good cross for Kelyn Acosta. It was the third match in which one of his crosses helped set up a U.S. goal, showing that he does bring good attacking qualities to the position.


Attacking midfielders still wanted


Julian Green USA Mexico 09112018

When Christian Pulisic was forced out of the October friendlies due to injury, there were immediate questions about who would pick up the attacking midfielder duties. The initial answer seemed to be Julian Green, who plays the role for his German second-division club and who showed some promise playing centrally in the second half against Mexico in September.

If Thursday’s match against Colombia did anything, it reminded us that Green is more of a second striker than attacking midfielder and the true options in the number 10 role continue to be extremely limited once you get past Pulisic.

Green is and always will be a striker at heart, be it as a second striker or even lead striker, where Carlo Ancelotti memorably tried him out with Bayern Munich. Green can work on the wings and, at a certain level, he can probably make do centrally, but he doesn’t have the key ingredients to be an effective number 10. He lacks the vision, passing touch and ability to keep the ball in tight space and make the quick decisions that unlock a defense.

It was telling that Sarachan called his setup a two-forward system on Thursday, designating Green as a forward even though he spent much of the night clearly set up in midfield spaces. Aside from one promising shot he took from distance in the first half and a crucial tackle on Rodriguez to start the build-up to Bobby Wood’s goal, Green had a pretty quiet night.

If Green isn’t the answer to the question of who can fill the void when Pulisic is out, then who is? Kenny Saief looked like a player who wanted to be in the number 10 role, but was instead deployed on the wing where he offered little defensive support after the first 15 minutes. Nothing we saw suggests he is the answer in that role either, which raises the question of whether we simply have to accept the reality that there isn’t another option besides Pulisic at the moment.  

Building midfield groups that lean on the team’s depth on the wings and in defensive midfield will be necessary any time Pulisic isn’t available. It will be the case least until a few years from now, when prospects like Nick Taitague, Emerson Hyndman, Andrew Carleton and Giovanni Reyna might one day give the team some good additional options in the number 10 role.


Bradley has value, but also limitations


Michael Bradley USMNT Colombia 10112018

The contingent of U.S. fans who went into Thursday’s match unhappy that Michael Bradley was on the team, much less as a starter and captain, were waiting for the moment they could hang their disdain on to support the notion that he has no place on the team. That moment came, according to many of them, when Radamel Falcao raced past a jogging Bradley on the way to scoring Colombia’s third goal. It mattered little that four other players in the picture could have done better to help stop that Colombia goal from happening, to say nothing of the two U.S. central defenders who were caught napping upfield and out of position. The image of a slow-moving Bradley being dusted by Falcao was all the evidence the Bradley haters needed. Case closed.

Only not really. The blame on the Falcao goal was down to multiple players, including two who weren’t in the picture. Matt Miazga and John Brooks went upfield for a USA corner kick, but after Colombia cleared the initial corner, 20 seconds went by with the USMNT in possession before Rodriguez sparked Colombia’s counter with an intelligent and hopeful long ball upfield. Though 20 seconds had gone by, Miazga and Brooks had not managed to leave the attacking third of the field, leaving the U.S. to try and defend the Colombia counter with Robinson and Yedlin, with the U.S. midfield trio of Kellyn Acosta, Bradley and Marky Delgado too slow in their recovery to keep up with Falcao and Juan Quintero, who raced past the slow-reacting U.S. defense.

The Falcao goal wasn’t Bradley’s fault, but the sequence served as a reminder of the reality that Bradley doesn’t move like he used to. He was never known for having top speed, but it is clear he has slowed down from his best years. Falcao wouldn’t have been able to run away from Tyler Adams that way, or Weston McKennie, but those trying to pin that goal on Bradley while ignoring the clear reality that Robinson, Acosta, Delgado, Brooks and Miazga all needed to do better on the sequence were either not paying attention, or were simply trying to find something to roast Bradley over.

Perhaps Sarachan gave Bradley too much credit when he deployed a midfield that would see Acosta spending more time in attacking spaces, leaving the TFC man as the lone defensive midfielder to deal with Colombia’s multiple speedy threats, including Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado and Quintero. Bradley in his prime would have struggled to cope with that trio on his own. Bradley at 31, with serious mileage on his legs over a 15-year career of hard running and relentless midfield work, wasn’t going to be the one to shut Colombia down. And here’s a newsflash, even the tireless Adams and tenacious McKennie would have had trouble covering that much midfield ground against that many Colombian attackers in that U.S. midfield setup.

Bradley can still play a role in the USMNT lineup, but not as a solo defensive midfielder. He can still help bring some composure in possession, give the defense a consistent passing outlet and feed the ball to the playmakers, but at this point in his career he would be best served playing next to a player with the engine and speed to cover for his limitations, like an Adams or McKennie. Of course, the next U.S. coach could very well decide that his midfield going forward will be built around a base of Adams and McKennie, with Pulisic in front of them, which makes total sense, but as we have learned this month, injuries can sometimes require alternatives. As much as Bradley haters won’t want to admit it, Bradley could still be an effective option as part of a double-six tandem next to an Adams or McKennie.

Is Bradley still a starter when all options are available? That will be up to the new USMNT coach to decide, but with some real talents continuing to develop, and age creeping up on Bradley, his window to contribute is closing quickly.


Weah and Sargent should see bigger roles in rest of 2018


Tim Weah USA Colombia 10112018

Weah’s assist on Wood’s goal was a thing of beauty, one of the best moments of the match for the United States and a shining example of why it’s worth investing minutes in the PSG youngster. Sargent didn’t have quite the same moment, but he did have a promising run at goal during his eight-minute cameo that showed a player who is physically capable of handling the international level. Now he just needs the experience, both for club and country.

Sarachan said after Thursday’s match that there will be several changes to the squad that faces Peru on Tuesday. As impressive as Wood’s latest goal was, the Peru friendly would be an excellent opportunity to give Sargent an extended look against a better class of competition than the Bolivia squad Sargent debuted — and scored — against in May. Sargent has matured a good amount, both physically and mentally, in the five months since that Bolivia match, as his goal-scoring exploits with the Werder Bremen U-23 team have showed. If he doesn’t play at least 45 minutes against Peru it will feel like a wasted opportunity, especially if it means starting Wood again.

We shouldn’t expect Sarachan to trot out as young a team as possible against Peru, but Weah, Sargent and Jonathan Amon are all teenagers with serious ability and potential, and the sooner they can earn some real national team minutes the better.

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Pulisic, McKennie and Sargent: Projecting the USMNT squad for the friendlies against Colombia and Peru – football news

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:


GOALKEEPERS


Zack Steffen USMNT 06102018

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.


DEFENDERS


Matt Miazga USA Mexico 09112018 C

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?


MIDFIELDERS


Christian Pulisic USMNT 05282018

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.


FORWARDS


Andrija Novakovich Fortuna Sittard 09222018

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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.

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Thomas

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No commitment and no credit card binding

The subscription is a new way which relying on a simple activation code, no commitment and no credit card binding. Live streaming is fast and clear.

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Quality is Amazing

Just subscribed and tried, I gotta say the streaming quality is amazing! Very clear and no delay at all. I watched Man United match last Sunday, fatanstic video quality and I really enjoyed with my friend, great work and keep it up!

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Weah: My mom told me to stay at PSG – football news

Paris Saint-Germain forward Timothy Weah revealed his mother played a big part in convincing him to remain with the Ligue 1 champions, though he may reconsider going out on loan in January.  

The 18-year-old United States international scored his first Ligue 1 goal for PSG in the club’s opener and was rewarded with a start in its second game.

However, Weah was pulled at halftime in that contest and has yet to feature for the club since, with speculation mounting prior to the transfer deadline that he would head out on loan.

Weah decided to remain with PSG, and speaking to reporters after the USMNT’s 2-0 loss to Brazil, the forward explained how his mother played a large role in convincing him to remain.

“It was a family decision,” Weah told reports of his decision to not go out on loan. “My mom, she thought I am still really young and tender. There’s still some stuff to work on.

“She thought if I did go to a lower team in the same league, there would be so many expectations to carry that team or potentially fight for a league winning spot. I don’t feel that I’m ready for that.”

Instead, Weah thinks the experience of getting time on the training field with the first team and some of the game’s biggest stars is best for his development. 

“I’m always ready for a challenge but right now I feel like training with PSG, training with Neymar, Thiago Silva and getting better each day – I feel like that’s the way to go. That’s the choice we made.” 

While playing time is not guaranteed with PSG, Weah is still taking positive experiences from it, saying the environment has helped build his confidence before he arrived with the USMNT. 

“Playing with one of the best teams in the world, it gives you huge confidence coming to international camp,” Weah said. “I wouldn’t say on the same level but you feel more confident when you’ve played like guys like Neymar, Thiago Silva. You know how they play. You’re with them every day and they’re like your brothers. Coming into these games you’re super confident.

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“I felt with the touches that I had, I showed a confidence. It’s just right now, I’m super young and I’m still learning. I still had a bit of jitters playing against Brazil but it’s something to work on and the future is really bright for us.”

Despite remaining for now, Weah did leave open the possibility he may consider a loan away from PSG in January.

“There’s still so much time. I’m only 18,” Weah added. “So who knows? In January, when the transfer market is open again hopefully look see where it is.”

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Weah hits USMNT camp sporting new look and boosted confidence – football news

Tim Weah arrived at U.S. national team camp in New Jersey sporting a new look this week. Gone were the braids he wore the last time he was with the team, and that he’d had as recently as his last appearance for Paris Saint-Germain. Instead, he wore a very short haircut that made him look so different that one reporter on Monday began asking him questions about what it was like to be in camp with Tim Weah.

The precocious young forward began to answer the question before stopping and saying, “I am Tim Weah.” 

“I was just sitting in the [barber’s] chair one day and I was like, ‘wow, I need a change,’ so I just cut it off,” Weah said. “And it’s getting hot.”

Weah’s haircut isn’t the only thing different as he prepares for the USMNT’s upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Mexico. He has also arrived with an added level of confidence built through the playing time he has earned with PSG in the early part of the season.

Even just a couple months ago, few would have envisioned Weah earning the minutes he has in the season’s early going. 

“As you saw against Bolivia (in May), coming in as a young 18-year-old playing against professionals and playing with professionals that I used to watch,” Weah said. “I came in with a little bit less confidence, and a little bit less swagger because I was kind of holding back. I wanted to play simple.

“I’m more confident now,” Weah said. “I’m training every day with the best players so in this camp I really want to show the world and show our supporters what I can really do on the ball. Build plays, spark plays, create plays, score goals. That’s my main goal, racking up on stats. Once I get that no matter what age, 18, 19, 20, I’ll always have that confidence.”

Weah is off to an encouraging start to the season at PSG, staying with the French champions despite rumors of potential loan moves. He revealed on Monday that a loan away from PSG was an option, but the 18-year-old made a tough decision that he stands behind.

“I was supposed to go on loan earlier this season and I chose not to go,” Weah said. “I chose to stay and work on my game because I feel like under [PSG manager Thomas] Tuchel and the players that we have it’s going to be great for me. My game is going to develop so much and I’m going to mature and I feel like that was the best decision for me.

“I don’t want to rush anything,” Weah said. “I’m only 18. But in the future we’ll see. Maybe a loan takes me. Maybe after this year I’ll be a little more comfortable playing professional soccer.”

 

Excited and honored to be called up to represent my country again ……Can’t wait to get started …..🇺🇸❤️

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Weah also stayed to continue working with Tuchel, who has taken over at PSG and has already shown the same affinity for giving young players opportunities that he showed while at Borussia Dortmund.

“Amazing. One of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with,” Weah said of Tuchel. “Tactically he’s amazing, technically he’s an amazing coach. Without his coaching staff I feel like he wouldn’t be the coach he is. He’s a great person. I love him so much. With the young guys he really shows us that he cares about us. With all the guys he shows us he’s a team guy and he loves his players like they’re his children.

“He’s really there for us, and he pushes us to be the best we can be,” Weah said. “He gets angry at us sometimes but we all know it’s for the better. I can’t wait to get more games under Tuchel, and hopefully next season I’ll have a great spot and I’ll be in a good position to eventually take a path like Cavani.”

Speaking of PSG, Weah will be standing across the field from one of his club teammates on Friday in Brazilian star Neymar, who will guide a strong Brazil team into Friday’s friendly.

“He’s super talented. A great guy. Super confident when he’s on the pitch,” Weah said of Neymar. “You’ve just got to keep your eyes on him and just watch everything that he does because he’s one of the best players in the world and it’s super hard to play against him.

“I feel like with the group of guys we have here, with Tyler Adams helping in with the defense from the midfield, and John Brooks, Matt Miazga, [Cameron Carter-Vickers] I feel like, as young guys we can really get the job done.”

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While some might question the value of friendlies, especially at a time when the team has yet to hire its full-time head coach, Weah makes it clear that the chance to play against high-profile opponents is invaluable for a young group of players who have already put together some encouraging results in 2018, including the 1-1 draw with France in June.

“These games, they build confidence,” Weah said. “Playing against World Cup winners, we didn’t know they were going to win the World Cup, but we played our buts off like it was a final for us and we tied France 1-1. These games are completely important to this group because it’s something to build on, and it’s growth, and that’s what we need. We need to really jell together because we do have new guys coming in each camp. The squad is getting younger each camp.

“Games like this, playing against Brazil, if we do get a result — and I really feel that we will — it’s going to be a huge confidence builder and it’s going to be great going to Nashville to play Mexico.”

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