Joe Scally remains to be a young person. So are Gio Reyna and Yunus Musah — for a number of extra days, at the very least. Christian Pulisic is a multimillionaire and well-known the world over however, at 24, there are some states the place he could not hire a automotive. Jesus Ferreira was in junior excessive the final time the U.S. males had been within the World Cup.
So, sure, the U.S. workforce headed to the World Cup in Qatar is younger, with greater than half the roster 25 or youthful. Inexperienced, too, with DeAndre Yedlin the one participant left over from the 2014 World Cup workforce.
However younger doesn’t essentially imply naïve. Inexperienced doesn’t imply incapable.
“This group has been collectively for 4 years now. We have had a number of good experiences with one another and are available up to now,” defender Antonee Robinson mentioned after the 26-man roster for the event in Qatar was introduced Wednesday evening.
“After I take a look at this workforce, I see younger expertise taking part in so properly on so many alternative ranges at so many golf equipment,” Robinson mentioned. “The one factor I see is starvation, dedication, depth.
“I don’t suppose anybody feels younger and inexperienced or something like that. They’re simply fired up and able to go.”
The Individuals start the World Cup on Nov. 21 towards Wales. They play England on Nov. 25, and end Group B play on Nov. 29 towards Iran.
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Had issues gone otherwise 4 years in the past, it is a good wager lots of the kids on their strategy to Qatar would nonetheless be attempting to catch the coach’s consideration or be caught behind a extra veteran participant. However as a result of the USMNT missed out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, U.S. Soccer was capable of begin recent.
Proficient younger gamers acquired alternatives years earlier than they could have in any other case. When Gregg Berhalter got here in as coach in 2018, he determined the participant pool could not be too huge or too broad.
A technology that was alleged to peak for the 2026 World Cup in america, Canada and Mexico was out of the blue on the quick observe.
“It is just a little bit underrated how this younger group has developed, how this program has developed,” Berhalter mentioned. “We just about began with a brand new participant pool in 2018, and now we’re again within the World Cup.”
These gamers weren’t simply making an impression with the USMNT, both. The US was cranking out gamers proficient sufficient to play in Europe. And never in a few of these lower-tier leagues the place Individuals used to go.
Fourteen of the 26 play at top-tier golf equipment in England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France, and 5 are taking part in within the UEFA Champions League this yr. When Leeds shocked Liverpool at Anfield final month, Tyler Adams was man of the match. Pulisic helped Chelsea win the Champions League title two seasons in the past.
They won’t have World Cup expertise, however they aren’t strangers to the large stage.
“(Not qualifying in 2018) lit the gas to the fireplace that constructed this workforce and constructed this younger group,” Yedlin mentioned. “You see guys stepping up in large moments these final 4 years, whether or not it was Christian scoring a penalty towards Mexico, Tyler having a person of the match sport towards Liverpool, Sergino (Dest) taking part in at Barcelona and now A.C. Milan.
“There are such a lot of situations of the place guys stepped up.”
If there’s a weak spot for the Individuals, it’s not their ages however their restricted taking part in time collectively just lately.
Reyna, Dest, Musah, Tim Weah and Weston McKennie have all missed time due to accidents, with Reyna absent for a lot of the final yr. Scally and Haji Wright made their USMNT debuts in June.
There isn’t a gradual studying curve at a World Cup. A workforce must be able to play, and play collectively, from the primary whistle.
And that is the place the post-2018 reset was additionally useful. This workforce has, in some ways, grown up collectively. They’ve shared related paths and shouldered the burden collectively of rebuilding the USMNT. Their affection for each other is each apparent and real.
Robinson used the phrase “love” a number of instances when speaking about his teammates. Spend greater than a minute or so with anybody on the workforce, and he’ll invariably discover a strategy to bust on McKennie — who takes the ribbing good naturedly. Low season plans usually embody visiting these gamers who’re nonetheless in season.
When a workforce has that type of chemistry, it does not take lengthy to settle again right into a rhythm.
“It is like a greatest good friend that you simply needn’t preserve in touch with, however everytime you hyperlink again up, all the things is regular and it simply flows,” McKennie mentioned.
This group has already gained Concacaf Gold Cup and Nations League titles, and so they beat Mexico thrice in a calendar yr final yr. However Berhalter, and his gamers, know it is how they fare within the World Cup that issues.
The USMNT has been centered on Qatar for 4 years now. It is time now to see what the kids can actually do.
Comply with USA TODAY Sports activities columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.