The US is not going to the 2018 World Cup. It’s been over a month since that dismal night in Trinidad but it’s still a sore spot and it’s still shocking to hear and say. It’s also quite depressing. But it’s time to turn the page on that dark chapter in US Soccer history and to make sure that it never, ever happens again. Preparation for Qatar 2022 (which is also still very shocking to say) begins now with a friendly against Portugal.
Two days after the US failure to qualify for Russia 2018, Bruce Arena resigned as US coach. In his place US Soccer named his assistant Dave Sarachan as interim coach (though nobody knows how long he will hold that role). Sarachan named the roster for this friendly over a week ago and the calls of US fans to start calling in the younger players seem to have finally been heard. New faces like Josh Sargent, Weston McKennie, Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Tyler Adams have all been brought in while some of the veterans are there to teach the youngsters: Alejandro Bedoya chief among them. The goalkeeper position is an interesting one as Bill Hamid, Ethan Horvath and Jesse Gonzalez have all been called in, leading some wonder if this is the end of the road for guys like Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. The third category of players on this roster is guys who are still young but have been around the block before like DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Kellyn Acotsa and Juan Agudelo are in that mix. Also called in was Dom Dwyer, who looked set to be the breakout star for the US this summer with two goals in his first two US games, but was sent home by Bruce Arena after the group stage at the Gold Cup. His motor and effort were sorely lacking in the final four World Cup Qualifiers.
Portugal comes into this game having had a very good 2017 and quite frankly having been rolling since their group state exit at the 2014 World Cup. They won the 2016 European Championship and finished third at the Confederations Cup last summer. They also qualified for the 2018 World Cup next summer, losing only one game along the way (on the road to Switzerland who also qualified for Russia 2018). This game against the US is not Portuga;’s first game this window as they played Saudi Arabia on the 10th and beat them 3-0. Unfortunately for most of the viewing public, Portugal did not call Ronaldo in for this friendly against the US. But that doesn’t mean their roster is completely devoid of talent or skill. They’re still loaded and there’s plenty of experience. Pepe has been called in with 91 caps. Jao Mario is there with 30 caps. Bernardo Silva has 2 goals in 20 caps and plies his trade with Manchester City. Andre Silva has 11 goals in 18 caps for Portugal and is a regular at AC Milan.