NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — The star of the team is relegated to the bench in his team and made only two starts this season. Two goalkeepers have just been relegated to the second division in England. The third plays for a big club in the English Premier League, but has not played a single game.
The United States returns to the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament and will field what is probably the youngest team in the tournament. There is talk of perhaps the most talented generation Americans have ever had, but full of unseasoned players. They just qualified, on goal difference, after losing the last game of CONCACAF qualifying.
“I’m very worried,” said former national team goalkeeper Kasey Keller, today a television analyst. “In the last two friendlies nothing encouraging was seen. We have important players who don’t play for their clubs. Or recovering from injuries. There is nothing that inspires confidence.”
The United States, who had made seven straight appearances at the World Cup until the 2018 fiasco, will make their Group B debut against Wales on November 21. They will then face England and finally Iran.
For Landon Donovan, a pillar for years of the national team and today retired, the duel with Wales will be key.
“If things go well early on, this can be a very dangerous team,” Donovan said. “Otherwise, it could go very badly for us. I don’t see anything in the middle, because teams without a lot of experience tend to play very well or very badly”.
The team, coached by Gregg Berhalter, lost 2-0 to Japan and drew 0-0 with Saudi Arabia in their last two outings before traveling to Qatar. In their seven most recent games they have had one win, three setbacks and three draws. In six of those games they did not score a goal.
the drama of pulici
Pulicic, the first American to play in, and win, a Champions League final, is struggling to find a place at Chelsea. Under both Thomas Tuchel and current manager Graham Potter, he has been relegated to the bench.
“Always, when the national team is involved, they start with ‘how are things at Chelsea?’… It’s hard to deal with that,” Pulicic said last year. “It’s difficult from a mental standpoint.”
Berhalter, 49, is the first coach the team has who was also a team player and participated in a World Cup.
Hired in December 2018 and the brother of the then head of the US federation’s commercial and strategic area, Jay Berhalter, he has employed 91 players and made 56 debut in the national team. He likes to use a 4-3-3 scheme.
There is only one player left from the team that competed in the 2014 World Cup, 29-year-old right back DeAndre Yedlin.
The average age of the team in the qualifiers was 23.82 years. The second youngest team, Ghana, had an average of 25.67. The average of the 31 teams that qualified playing was 27.5, according to the American federation.
There is no entrenched archer
For the first time since the 1980s, the bow does not have a confident and experienced owner, as in the days of Tony Meola, Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel and Tim Howard.
Matt Turner, who started eight of the 14 qualifying games and in the two friendlies in September, is Aaron Ramsdale’s substitute at Arsenal and has not yet made his Premier debut; Zack Steffen was used mostly in cup matches by Manchester City before being loaned out to Middlesbrough and Ethan Horvath was sent on loan from Nottingham Forest to Luton.
doubts in defense
The center back will have to do without Miles Robinson, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in May. Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long, who played in the friendlies in September, play for clubs that did not qualify for the MLS playoffs and will reach the World Cup without having played in a month.
Right-back Sergiño Dest was discarded by Barcelona and transferred to Milan, with whom he started only two games since April.
Gio Reyna, an injury-prone player, played the full 90 minutes just once for Borussia Dortmund from April 2021. Tim Weah (Lille) missed the first two months of the season with injury.
Due to injuries and suspensions, Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie started for the team only five times.
“This is not a perfect team and I suspect that Gregg Berhalter is the first to admit it,” said former national team defender Alexi Lalas. “The ideal is to have people who are playing and who are doing well.”