Lieria, Portugal – The USMNT wrapped up a disappointing 2017 in Portugal with a 1-1 draw against the reigning European Champions. Weston McKennie became the third youngest player to score in his first cap with the National Team, while others impressed. Ethan Horvath was probably the only one who didn’t show something positive, as his mistake led to the loan goal for Portugal. Here are three things we learned from the match.
USMNT vs. Portugal: Three Things we Learned
Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie are the Real Deal
Outside of Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence, the Portugal squad was still quite strong. Nelson Semedo, Luis Neto, Bruno Fernandes, all strong parts of the Portugese squad headed to the World Cup. Weston McKennie’s goal was a great piece of individual effort once he got into the box. His ability to set the play up, the smarts from Sapong to pull his man wide, and get McKennie isolated with a lot of space at the top of 18, it was just incredibly well worked. McKennie also made a good impact in the midfield.
While not needing as much defensive responsibility as he needs at Schalke, he was able to get forward into the attack, a bit more. McKennie could be a real creative force, especially with a good holding mid underneath him, freeing him up from significant defensive responsibility.
Tyler Adams was also very good last night on the right side. Deploying him as a right mid did the trick and he made a good impact defensively on that side as well. While his future may truly be at right-back, he is quite the swiss army knife. For these two first timers with the national team, as young as they are, to come in and impress the way they did really bodes well for the USMNT future.
John Brooks was Missed, and Miazga Should’ve been Used World Cup Qualifiers
John Brooks defensive effort, specifically his closing down and neutralization of Portugal’s attacking threats were huge. While his numbers aren’t through the roof, his presence on the backline was huge. Again, the Portugese attack was likely better than all but maybe one other team in CONCACAF (Mexico). John Brooks was a huge force for them last night. Brooks was part of the debacle at the end of Klinsmann’s era. However, it was no coincidence that the only other two games that Brooks played in during the WCQ, the U.S. won by a total of 8-0, against teams that later caused them trouble.
The USMNT also could’ve severely used someone like Matt Miazga during the Qualifying campaign. Why he was just relegated to being a “experience getter” during the Gold Cup, despite being incredibly impressive in his games, befuddles me. I put together a tweet with the centerback duo’s involvement last night, which was quite the positive one.
A look at Miazga and Brooks’ involvement last night. One defensive mistake, a few bad passes, but overall not bad. Involvement was huge. pic.twitter.com/VvJWagDGUV
— Daniel Sperry (@sperrydaniel94) November 15, 2017
The Goalkeeper Issue Is Still a Thing
Jesse Gonzalez still didn’t get his first cap yet, Horvath spilled the ball, and while Hamid blocked a few shots, the weird parrying thing going straight up and almost into the goal, instead of wide away from danger just doesn’t convince me yet either. Tim Melia is likely going to win Goalkeeper of the Year, Stefan Frei is an American, and you also have Zach Steffen. I’d take all three of those guys over the two we saw last night.
Horvath has the highest ceiling, but has been severely error prone this year for Brugge, and that was apparent yesterday. The USMNT isn’t someone that can afford to live through a young kids mistakes, at least in goal that is. If they want to move forward, they need a strong guy in goal. It’s gonna take some convincing to tell me if any of those guys called in are “the guy” down the road.