With the United States Men’s National Team not going to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, it would be easy not to be excited or invested in the two upcoming friendly games that the team is set to play against Ireland and France. While I won’t deny that I would certainly be following the games more closely if the team had a flight booked to Russia, there are still plenty of reasons to watch the two games, namely the players that will be taking part.
Interim Head Coach Dave Sarachan has named a roster comprised primarily of young players with little experience, but also including some players that haven’t been with the national team for quite some time. With that in mind, here are a few players to keep an eye on over the next two games.
The Young Guys
A name that should be familiar to those who follow MLS, Adams is a 19-year-old midfielder who plays for New York Red Bulls. With only three caps to his name, Adams is new to the international scene. He’s one of MLS’ most exciting young talents and scored against Club Tijuana to help put NYRB through to the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League. It’s always nice to see young MLS players get call-ups, especially ones of Adams’ caliber. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares, especially if he sees the field in the game against France.
While he’s only 20 years old, Carter-Vickers has been talked about by USMNT fans for some time, in part due to him (sort of) playing for Tottenham Hotspur. While the defender has yet to make a Premier Leauge appearance for the senior side, Carter-Vickers came up through the Spurs youth system and has spent the last two seasons on loan at Sheffield United and Ipswich Town, where he’s played well. With all of the trouble the U.S. has had finding a consistent and strong back line, he’s a name that many people are eyeing with particular interest.
In 2014, the now 21-year-old striker threw a letter of intent to play soccer at Marquette in the trash, and decided to go pro, signing with Reading. While he’s only made two appearances with the team, he made 35 with second division Dutch team Telstar, and scored 19 league goals. While the Eereste Divisie doesn’t offer the stiffest of competition, 19 goals are 19 goals, and though that shouldn’t make him the nation’s first choice striker, the team should leave no stone unturned after the failure to qualify. He had a short cameo in the 3-0 win against Bolivia so look to see if he gets more playing time with only two other forwards on the roster.
The Guys In From the Cold
The most obvious selection for this particular category, Green hasn’t had the easiest time of things since the 2014 World Cup. He’s struggled for his club, only recently playing consistent games for Stuttgart in the Bundesliga and playing more at second division team Greuther Fürth. Aside from the Bolivia game, the last time Green wore a U.S. shirt was in 2016. Fun fact about Green, he scored the goal that kept Greuther Fürth from being relegated from 2. Bundesliga this year, as it was able to stay out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
While Corona has 23 U.S. caps to his name, they’ve almost all come in friendlies or the Gold Cup. Don’t try to tell me that the Gold Cup is a premier competition, I’d rather not go down that road. While the midfielder was part of the 30-man preliminary roster for the 2014 World Cup, he was not selected in the final squad, and didn’t play any part in the qualifying cycle for this upcoming tournament. At only 24 years of age, there’s still time for Corona to make himself part of the framework when it comes to roster selection for competitive matches, but he’ll need to start impressing more in the opportunities he gets like these next two games.
The Uncapped Guys
A 21-year-old right back, Moore currently plays for Levante and has featured prominently in the U.S. youth teams. Moore is only the fourth American to ever play in La Liga and has a handful of games under his belt for the Valencia-based team.
Another NYRB player, the 25-year-old center back has played in over 80 MLS games. He’s received a couple of call-ups in the past but has yet to see the field so perhaps the third time will be the charm for the man from Hicksville (seriously?), NY.
Luca de la Torre
With over 40 appearances in the U.S. youth system, the 20-year-old could soon start to see more attention after his team, Fulham, won promotion to the Premier League for next season. While he’s only made five league appearances for the London side, it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on his development, potentially starting tomorrow night.
That’s all for me. Are there any players you’re looking forward to seeing in the next two friendlies? Let me know in the comments.