It may only be the U-20 World Cup, and sure, it was just a friendly match for the main squad, but US Soccer put the world on notice today with victories in both contests. Advancing to the Quarter Finals is a huge step for our developing players, and any time you’re able to beat the FIFA #1 ranked squad (friendly or not) it’s a big deal. Plus, Schweinsteiger, Ozil, and Gotze all played, so don’t tell me the Germans didn’t come correct. The USMNT may be ranked 27th for now, but we’re trending in the right direction.
The USMNT stirred up some chatter last week when we beat the Netherlands 4-3. We’re not traditionally known for scoring a ton of goals, so dropping 4 on one of Europe’s premier squads is a pretty big deal, too. The strong showing at the 2014 World Cup paired with these recent victories shows we can compete with anyone in the world.
While the U-20 team doesn’t get much publicity, it may be time to focus on the younger players donning a US jersey as our current stars are getting up there in age. Landon Donovan is retired at age 33. My favorite USMNT player of all-time, Clint Dempsey, is 32. Tim Howard will be 39 when the 2018 World Cup rolls around. The torch is going to be passed sooner than later, and it looks like the youngin’s can handle the heat.
Timmy Howard may be the Secretary of Defense, but heir-apparent Brad Guzan is no slouch. He’s seasoned at 30 years old, but he plays in the Premier League for Aston Villa as their primary keeper. While I wouldn’t rule out Howard for 2018, it’s more than likely we’ll see Guzan between the pipes, and we’ll be in good shape.
Shockingly, the American media has done a good job of not hyping up our developing players in recent years to the point where the pressure becomes too much to bear. Remember Freddy Adu? The poor kid was doing Pepsi commercials with Pele before he was legally allowed to vote. Since then he’s bounced around from club to club (most recently signing with KuPS in Finland) and hasn’t seen USMNT action since 2011. He’s only 26, but we’ve seen the last of him for the main squad.
Instead, uncle Jurgen has been developing up-and-coming stars such as 22-year-old Bobby Wood (scored vs Netherlands and the game winner today vs Germany), 21-year-old DeAndre Yedlin, 20-year-old Julian Green, and 21-year-old defender John Anthony Brooks. Oh, and don’t forget Mix Diskerud is only 24. As for our U-20 squad, midfielder Gedion Zelalem torched Colombia today, and will be a name to remember come 2018. The future is bright.