USMT vs Paraguay Friendly - A New Chapter

On March 27th in North Carolina at 7:30 EST on Fox Sports 1 the United State Men's National team will host South American rival Paraguay in a friendly match.  This match comes under a dark cloud still looming over United States soccer as World Cup 2018 will come and go without US participation.  It will take time for American Outlaws to cleanse the pallet of qualification failure, and the chaotic leadership the organization felt in the past year, but this friendly may be just what the doctor ordered.

The 22 man roster for the friendly was recently announced.  US Soccer is putting their youth front and center.  Of the 22 men called up, they represent 12 different leagues and 10 countries.  Only one third of the players are signed and playing in Major League Soccer.  5 of the players are currently signed and playing in the top leagues of Europe.  Despite the youth, this is a formidable and exciting roster presented for the mostly meaningless friendly.

This is exactly what the USMNT needs at this time.  Youth front and center, and on full display for American Outlaws.  The match outcome will mean nothing from a historical perspective, but psychologically it could get the USMNT fan base back on their feet and excited about US Soccer.

There are five players I have highlighted that represent a bright light off in the distance for the USMNT:

1.  DeAndre Yedlin:  Of the 22 men selected, Yedlin is the most experienced at the age of 24 with 49 USMNT appearances.  I love his attitude and leadership at this point for US Soccer.  He said in a recent interview, "I want to win the World Cup.  If that's not the goal then I don't think you should be playing."  Yedlin as become a staple in the Newcastle United lineup in the English Premiere League.

2.  Cameron Carter-Vickers:  CCV is on loan at Ipswich Town in the English Championship.  Tottenham Hotspurs own his rights.  CCV is performing well for Ipswich.  The club is crying out to retain him again on loan next season, but in his current form, it is more likely he will dawn a Hotspur jersey next season.  CCV has been a leader at all levels of US Soccer, and this may be the first step to firmly plant his foot in the USMNT defense from now into a long future.

3.  Shaq Moore:  He plays right back at 21 years old with Levante in La Liga.  He has started several matches for the club this season, including one against Barcelona and Messi.  The USMNT actually has a great problem in the future with two European Top League right backs in Yedlin and Moore.

4.  Tim Weah:  18 Years old and playing for Paris St-Germain!  He has made two appearances for PSG this season.  He is the son of legendary African footballer George Weah.  This will be his first appearance for the USMNT.  In Weah, the US has a calm and cool striker with an international football pedigree.

5.  Weston McKennie:  This 19 year old is a midfielder with Schalke in the German Bundesliga.  He has battled through injury this season, yet has still made 17 appearances for the #2 Bundesliga club.  McKennie is a versatile part of America's midfield.  The Schalke manager said of Weston, "He is an aggressive leader - he can play anywhere in midfield, in front of the defense or behind the attack."

The taste of salt may still linger in your mouth as the World Cup approaches.  Take time to give these young men a chance.  They may just lead you to a brighter, more hopeful perspective on our national team.

Jay Fratt