Accent on Youth as U.S. Calls in 21 for Portugal Friendly

Photograph by Matt Kremkau

US logoIt should come as no surprise that Dave Sarachan, the interim coach of the United States men’s national team, has selected a roster with more than half the 21 players younger than 24 years old. The revamped U.S. squad is scheduled to play No. 3 Portugal in Leiria on Nov. 14.

At the head of the list, at least for fans of the New York Red Bulls, is midfielder/defender Tyler Adams, 18, who could earn his first cap as a senior international. The others are: (24) Juan Agudelo, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin; (22) Kellyn Acosta, Jesse Gonzalez, Ethan Horvath, Matt Miazga; (21) Lynden Gooch; (19) Cameron Carter-Vickers, Weston McKennie; (18) Tyler Adams; (17) Josh Sargent.

“Being called up to the national team is a dream fulfilled,” Adams, who is from Wappingers Fall, N.Y., said. “As I continue to develop as a player I know I need to prove myself in every opportunity I get. Next on the list is the national team, with this opportunity I’ll put everything I have into it and represent my country with the highest degree of pride.”

Adams has been with the Red Bulls since Regional Development School at age 12, and signed his first professional contract at 16. In the recently completed Major League Soccer season, in which the Red Bulls were ousted by Toronto FC last Sunday, Adams made 24 appearances and 22 starts (he appeared in 32 matches in all competitions). He also played in every match for the U.S. at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea in May.

With the game in Europe during an official FIFA international break, Sarachan’s roster leans heavily toward Americans playing abroad. One omission is Hamburg’s Bobby Wood, who has been dealing with a knee injury. In addition, Sarachan, who served as Bruce Arena‘s long-time assistant, has included only a handful of players who were part of the national team roster that failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“The one word that I would use in reference to all of this is opportunity,” Sarachan said. “It’s an opportunity for many players who haven’t been in the picture that we feel have a bright future with the national team to get to measure themselves in a game against a quality opponent. It’s an opportunity for our national team to finish out 2017 in a positive way. It’s also just an opportunity to move on. As much as we’re still gutted from how things turned out with qualifying, we have to look ahead and finish out the year the right way.”

In addition to Adams, McKennie and Sargent are also seeking their first caps with the senior international team.

Sargent captained the U.S. to qualification for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup before being named to the squad at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. His four-goal, one-assist performance in South Korea gave him the tournament’s Silver Boot while leading the U.S. to a quarterfinal finish. Sargent then returned to captain the U.S. at the U-17 World Cup where the team also advanced to the quarterfinals. He becomes the first U.S. player to appear in a U-17, U-20 and senior camps during the same calendar year.

McKennie has appeared in seven of Schalke’s 11 league matches this season. He played 90 minutes in the club’s 1-0 win at Freiburg on Saturday.

downloadThe match against Portugal was originally scheduled to be played in the Algarve city of Faro, but will not be played at Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa (3:45 p.m. Eastern; FS1, UniMas and UDN), right, in the central city of Leiria.

The U.S. roster (all clubs MLS unless noted otherwise):

Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland/Denmark), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/Belgium)

Defenders: John Brooks (Wolfsburg/Germany), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Sheffield United/England), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/England), Matt Miazga (Vitesse/the Netherlands), Tim Ream (Fulham/England), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/Mexico), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/England)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Tyler Adams (Red Bulls), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland/England), Weston McKennie (Schalke/Germany), Kelyn Rowe (New England), Danny Williams (Huddersfield Town/England)

Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New England), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City), C.J. Sapong (Philadelphia), Josh Sargent (St. Louis Scott Gallagher)