Editorial (June 6th, 2019)– The USMNT put together a woeful performance with a makeshift group on Wednesday night. They lost to Jamaica on American soil for the second time in recent history, making that two times ever that Jamaica has beaten the US on American soil. While this one is slightly more excusable than the last time, it’s still not good.
USMNT loses to Jamaica
The Jamaican Starting XI was comprised of mainly USL players, and the USMNT side was mainly MLS, and relatively elite MLS as well. But they lacked cohesiveness, drive, vision, and pretty much everything else crucial to winning a soccer match. First, let’s give some excuses though:
It was, by and large, a “thrown together team” that was put into a weird setup, a 5-2-3/3-4-3 ish thing. The setup looked awful and played awful. After they made a switch to a 4-3-3 they gave up the goal. It’s hard to expect an amazing performance out of guys who have never played together and did it in a setup that might be extremely foreign to them.
Throw in the fact that most of them had less than 3 days to prepare and join the camp to get ready for the match, it’s pretty ridiculous to expect anything more than what we saw on Wednesday night.
USMNT Gold Cup Roster
The USMNT announced their Gold-Cup roster today which had one major surprise as Josh Sargent was left off the roster. Of course, plenty jumped at the chance to further pile on Gregg Berhalter out of their frustration with losing to a Jamaican side that, on paper, was supposed to be inferior to the USMNT. But in reality, I don’t think this is a bad message to send.
For one, Josh Sargent has had plenty of experience in the USMNT shirt for a guy who finally joined a pro-team when he turned 18. Sargent has seven caps with the USMNT over the last two years and two goals as well. But his inability to make a difference against Jamaica should be somewhat shocking. Instead, there were plenty of “excuses” offered for him, and not the rest of the squad. On the eve of a roster announcement, and multiple players who have a lot more experience in this tournament available, Sargent laid an egg.
There are a couple of things I feel are important to point out regarding Sargent:
- Players shouldn’t be handed roster spots for the major tournaments that the USMNT participates in “just for the experience.” One of the most famous instances recently was Julian Green getting a World Cup roster spot over Landon Donovan. Yes, Green scored a goal, but in hindsight, Landon Donovan could’ve still been a game-changer for the USMNT, and he wasn’t allowed to be because “experience.” Now Julian Green is stuck in the 2. Bundesliga and is virtually out of the USMNT picture.
- Just because he’s not in this roster, doesn’t mean he’s not the future. Berhalter said as much in his conference call today, and it should hold true. There should be an obvious belief in Sargent as the future of the striker position with the USMNT. But just because he’s the future shouldn’t mean he gets an automatic tournament roster spot. Earn it.
- Sargent scored two goals in 10 appearances for Weder. While it’s not bad for a player in his first year of professional soccer, Bobby Wood scored three in 20 and he’s not even sniffing the USMNT rosters any time soon. Players have to perform. Pulisic didn’t start getting regular full USMNT looks until he was getting regular Dortmund looks, and performing in them. Sargent should be the same way, and the same went for guys like Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie. If/when Sargent is able to establish himself as one of the top two options up top for Weder Bremen or another club, then he can be guaranteed a roster spot.
Other notes on the USMNT Roster
Omar Gonzalez’s inclusion
I don’t like Omar’s inclusion in the roster for a few reasons. For one, he wasn’t good for a team that was relegated in Liga MX, and he was then on loan from Pachuca to Atlas anyways. Omar also hasn’t looked great for the USMNT. However, I’d like to believe he wouldn’t be included if John Brooks had been healthy. And that may or may not say something about the player pool depth at the center back position. So for now, that’s something we could hold on to as a reason for his inclusion.
The second reason I’m down on his inclusion is his stylistic fit. Gonzalez at his peak was never an athletic, smart, ball playing CB. He was a menace of a defender though, tough to challenge aerially and a great shot blocker. But what if I told you could get all of those with Ike Opara, plus a better ball-playing acumen. Or even if you wanted a veteran guy who fits a possession-oriented system and has a history of being within a USMNT squad, you could also look at Matt Besler. Besler has been injured for Sporting KC recently, but my goodness. Omar Gonzalez? In 2019? Earning a roster spot? I don’t like it in principle because he hasn’t really performed for club or country recently, and then on top of it, he’s a stylistic misfit and that just feels weird.
Tyler Boyd’s Inclusion
These are positive notes for me because I do really see where they could fit in this USMNT setup. Tyler Boyd is a great wide option if Berhalter wants to force Pulisic inside (he does). Boyd is really good at giving service from wide areas, as well as driving at defenders and putting them under pressure. Similarly to what Johnny Russell does for Sporting KC, Boyd does more of the same, and his style and ability is something that really doesn’t exist inside the player pool outside of himself.
He also has the production with his team to back-up his inclusion. He was directly involved in 10 goals in 14 games in the Turkish Super-Lig last year, and the talented winger should show well. Hopefully, he’ll do better than Kenny Saief ever did.
Duane Holmes’ Inclusion
Duane Holmes is also a player whose make-up and “game” is unique to the player pool. Holmes is really smart in the buildup and is great at creating chances from the number 10 position. He’s the closest thing to a “pure 10” in the player pool, and he played extremely well for Derby County, who was nearly promoted to the Premier League this season.
However, Holmes’ style as a number 10 reminds me of Darlington Nagbe in a similar role, without the defensive bite. If the USMNT wants to play a free-floating 10 within their system, it fits what Holmes does extremely well, and could help push Pulisic wide right which seems to be a more productive and comfortable position for him.
Starting XI and Potential Depth Chart
Have any agreements? Disagreements? Let us know in the comments below!