A lot happened over the past couple weeks in American soccer. We take it on piece by piece. Check the show notes.
An in-depth show about the U.S. men's national soccer team, the players who could one day make it better, and American soccer in general.
A lot happened over the past couple weeks in American soccer. We take it on piece by piece. Check the show notes.
Andrew Erickson, the former Crew SC beat reporter for the Columbus Dispatch, joins the pod to talk about covering newly announced USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, and then Belz and Matt Hartman discuss what we learned about the U17s in the Nike Friendlies.
U.S. men's U20 coach and youth technical director Tab Ramos joins to talk about the Concacaf Championship and a few other things. Then Greg and Belz talk briefly about the Italy friendly, evaluate the first team minutes requirement floated by some after the game, and break down the satisfying, trophy-winning 2-0 win over Mexico in Bradenton from the U20s.
Belz, Joey Anthone and Matt Hartman take a deep dive into the pool of players born in 2002 or later and therefore eligible for the U17 World Cup next year. We talk about how this age group stacks up against past cycles, discuss more than 50 individual players and try to answer a bunch of very good Twitter questions. This is a long one. Use the show notes. If you get bored with the discussion of one position, skip to the next. We start with the top prospects, generally, and move our way down at each spot on the field.
It was a pretty bad performance from the Americans at Wembley, but hiring a coach should help. Don't worry. This is not as sad of an episode as you might think.
The USA will face England on Thursday afternoon and Italy on Tuesday, and we’re here to talk about the roster and who we’d like to see in the starting XI. Might be the first time we get to see Pulisic, McKennie and Adams on the field at the same time! We talk about the U20s and the USWNT later in the episode.
We talk about the soccer being played by our U20s in the Concacaf Championship, assess individual performances in some detail, give the new USMNT roster a once-over and welcome Alex Mendez to the podcast.
We roll through the American soccer news of the week -- MLS Decision Day, U20 World Cup qualifying, Sargentwatch and USWNT and USMNT rosters -- very quickly so we can get to an interview with Richie Ledezma, the 18-year-old phenom linked with PSV Eindhoven.
The 4-3-2-1 seems to work better than the 4-1-4-1, but nobody’s claimed the central advanced midfield role. We run through the candidates, and the future candidates, for the job. Then we discuss the U.S. U20 roster for the Concacaf Championship, and then, best of all, Atlanta United 2 Coach Scott Donnelly joins to talk about coaching in USL, George Bello, Andrew Carleton, and USL as a place for young players to develop.
The USA drew Peru in Hartford on Tuesday, but the big story was the US lineup. We got a starting front three of Jonathan Amon, Josh Sargent and Tim Weah. Reggie Cannon got his debut at right back. Aaron Long got his debut at centerback. Ben Sweat got a debut at left back. Brad Guzan returned from the wilderness. What did we learn? A lot! Listen up.
The laboratory was humming Thursday night in Tampa when the USA lost 4-2 to Colombia, with Saief, Bradley, Green and Weah experiments underway, among others. What did we learn? How did the midfield look in McKennie's and Adams' absences? How good is Kenny Saief? Those and many other questions asked and answered in today's episode.
Let’s start with the bad news. Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic will be absent for the upcoming friendlies against Colombia and Peru, but there are still a bunch of interesting players involved in the camp (Weah, Sargent, Novakovich, Amon, Cannon, Saief). We get into all that and discuss the lineup.
Sarachan released the 24-man roster for the friendlies with Colombia and Peru on Oct. 11 and 16. The big question is who will play in which capacity in the midfield, and we talked about that for a while, among other things.
U20 World Cup qualifying is now just over a month away. Special guest Joey Anthone (@USAprospects) and I do a bare-bones run through the roster options for Tab Ramos. We also discuss the format of the U20 Men's Concacaf Championship, the roster rules and the changes that Ramos might make mid-tournament.
Greg and I wrap up the last USMNT camp and what we learned -- it's quite a bit more positive than our reactions to the games themselves. Then we’ve got an interview with Marc Nicholls, director of player development and academy director for the Seattle Sounders, and we come back with Short Corners at the end.
We won the game. It was not pretty. But Greg thinks we learned a lot. I just wish we’d learned how to get Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie to simultaneously thrive in the midfield, which we did not.
Sarachan surprised us with a 2-centerback formation and some shuttling specialists on the wings, and the U.S. lost 2-0 to Brazil in a limpid but not disastrous friendly on Friday night.
Dave Sarachan's roster, omissions, our starting XIs for Brazil, and a solid (IMO) discussion of Pulisic's absence.
We’re back in our comfort zone and we’ve got a roster episode. The men’s national team faces Brazil on Sept. 7 and Mexico on Sept. 11. We break down the options and in the process conduct a routine checkup on the U.S. player pool. Then we review the first matchday of the Bundesliga season and Belz spotlights the recent USL appearances of Joshua Atencio for Sounders 2.
Games kick off Sept. 1 for the U19 regular season of the U.S. Development Academy. It is the ocean from which the youth player pool is largely drawn. Joey Anthone (@USAprospects) joins to detail his preseason top 10 teams and key up-and-coming players across the nation. We cover some big themes at the top and then dive in. Bext XIs, preseason “awards” and answers to listener questions ensue.
A cold dose of hype kryptonite: worst case scenarios this season for the key Americans playing in Europe.
Chris Richards joins for a conversation from Bavaria, where the 18-yr-old is on loan at Bayern Munich, getting ready for his first regular season U19 game this weekend. Then Greg and Belz run down the European-based player pool ahead of the regular seasons in the big leagues, and then we take a few Short Corners.
We take a closer look at the league that has become the destination of choice for young American players by interviewing people who regularly talk or write about Werder Bremen, Hannover 96, Schalke and Dortmund. Josh Sargent, Bobby Wood, Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic are the main events in this episode, but each guest gave a good sense of each club’s overall situation and addressed the rising population of Americans in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga academies. Greg and I had planned to talk about Frankfurt, Wolfsburg and Gladbach but we ran out of time, as you’ll see.
European preseason is always a time of inflated hopes and dreams. Players getting chances, and fresh starts, and new contracts. We run down of a lot of the action, and then Greg breaks out some half-assed high school math as we try to sort out whether the player pool is taking a step forward. (It is.)
Joey Anthone (aka @USAProspects) joined the pod to comb through the U-20 player pool and we didn’t stop. Who will be available for November qualifying? We projected that. What are the biggest challenges for Tab Ramos? We explained them. What are the areas of strength in the pool? We pointed them out. Who will be the 6? Who will be the 9? Who will be the centerbacks? Check, check, check. And then we each gave a 20-man roster and answered several listener questions. Carve out time over multiple days because you won’t be able to handle this in one sitting.
18-year-old DC United holding midfielder talks through how he thinks about his job on the pitch, his development as a player, and his assessment of the USMNT's World Cup qualifying failure, among other things. Greg and I get into Jesse Marsh's move and the large number of American players on the move in Europe.
A vacation-truncated mini-episode acknowledging the end of Concacaf's time at the World Cup.
U.S. men’s soccer doesn’t need a savior. It needs savior by committee. We take the metaphor to within an inch of its life and run down the USMNT depth chart as we go. Later in the episode we talk briefly about Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama at the World Cup.
Mexico beat Germany 1-0 and we break it down from a U.S. perspective, and then talk about the game, which was really good. Later in the episode, USYNT striker Sebastian Soto joins for an interview. Don't miss that.
Former USMNT striker and ESPN analyst Herc Gomez gets on the phone to discuss El Tri ahead of Sunday's showdown with Germany, then Greg and I talk Mexico, make quick work of Costa Rica and Panama and take a few short corners.
Has American fight been restored? Greg thinks that's "garbage narrative stuff." Did Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie play well? Hmm, not really. But the kids got a result in France, we got a few standout performances and we broke it all down.
Long episode alert: we talk about the 2-1 loss to Ireland. It was a real test for a young American side, and yet our veteran fullbacks were the biggest problem on the field. Hmmm. We try to break it down player by player, and then look ahead to France.
Pulisic didn't show up and neither did Bolivia, but everyone else did. Debut goal for Sargent. A goal for Weah in his first start. Strong stuff from Robinson at left back. McKennie was a man among boys.
We try to rough out a lineup for the Memorial Day friendly in Pennsylvania, and then discuss Efrain Alvarez, Tyler Adams to RB Leipzig, Peter Vermes' contention that U.S. Soccer doesn't have a plan, and Chris Durkin's progress at holding midfielder.
We go down the list, and give our locks, our hopefuls, and the somewhat longer list of those we are ambivalent about getting called-up for the friendlies with Bolivia, Ireland and France.
Buck up, America. It's time to root for Concacaf. With no USMNT to talk about in the World Cup, we're going to follow Mexico and Costa Rica, because a better Concacaf is better for us in the long term. We explain ourselves and talk about the Mexican player pool, their chances of getting to the quarterfinals, and Costa Rica's prospects. (We don't talk much about Panama.) Then we run down the latest on young Yanks at home and abroad.
Klopp's gegenpressing Liverpool is a game away from the biggest crown in club soccer, so naturally we discuss whether the USMNT should adopt a full-throttle pressing style. Then we get into the virtues and drawbacks of USL versus going to Europe and joining an academy, and round up some of the past weekend action.
FC Dallas midfielder Jacori Hayes joins for a great conversation on his path to MLS, the value of his USL experience last year, why he always tucks his shirt in and what he needs to do to get better. Then Greg and Belz take on the burning topic of the day: Michael Bradley (and Jozy Altidore).
Justen Glad joins the show for an interview, we talk about the Revierderby and the two Americans involved, and we get to our Major League Update, with special mention of the Atlanta United-NYCFC match and our regular notes on young Americans in MLS.
With Greg stepping aside on this one because he's too much of a realist, I got on the horn with Dillon Payne (aka @DontTreadSoccer) and we held a draft to each pick a starting XI for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Totally speculative, totally irresponsible. But fun.
We talk about Sarachan's decisions against Paraguay, what the point of these friendlies is, try to dispense with the word "meaningless," talk a bit more about what we learned in the friendly, and discuss Marky Delgado and George Bello at some length.
Not much happened in the attacking third, but there was reason for encouragement. Good performances from Tyler Adams, Matt Miazga, Darlington Nagbe and Jorge Villafana, a solid showing by the midfield trio, a tight defensive effort and a lot of good energy, especially early.
The matter at hand is the friendly against Paraguay on Tuesday. We break down the roster and each give our ideal starting XI. Then we jump into MLS, chat about the upcoming Concacaf Champions League semifinals, and spend a good deal of time on encouraging performances over the weekend from American teenagers in MLS.
We lay out the cases for optimism (Belz) and realism (Velasquez) on Andrew Carleton's future. We get into the MLS and CCL excitement a bit. Greg wants Gregg Berhalter called up to the USMNT. We talk at length about the March friendly roster.
We talk about Bruce Arena's three biggest mistakes in World Cup qualifying, and go on a walkabout on the hiring of a new USMNT general manager and what a "braver," as Hugo Perez put it, type of American soccer might look like.