The US Men’s faced Colombia on Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Here is what we learned following a 4-2 Colombia win against a makeshift US Men’s National Team
Missing their three most important players, the US Men’s National Team put on an unconvincing display against a star-studded Colombian national team. The result is not surprising given the absence of the USMNT’s three most important players: Cristian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie — all out injured.
What was somewhat surprising was the relatively flat performance from a majority of players, a bit surprising considering this was a rare chance for the players on the fringes of the USMNT program to convince the manager-to-be (whoever that may turn out to be was surely watching) that they should be part of the future plans.
The Anthony Robinson experiment needs to end
As mentioned previously, the US Men’s team seems to be in a constant and seemingly never-ending search for a left back. We have entered the latter stages of the Anthonee Robinson experiment and it is safe to say that he is not the answer.
The 21-year old was given the starting role yet again, mostly because there are no other viable options. Robinson’s defending was poor, repeatedly getting beat 1-v-1 defensively and not contributing much offensively. Sarachan’s willingness to stick with Robinson may be understanding, considering that the back up option is a gentleman by the name of Ben Sweat, an(other) MLS journeyman that will undoubtedly prove to be a terrible mismatch against any national team with World Cup qualifying aspirations. The evident lack of a left-back option leads to the following crazy idea:
The U.S. may need to experiment with a three-man backline
Given the evident lack of a bona fide left back combined with an embarrassment of riches at the center back position it may be worth going out on a limb and playing the best XI available. This would include proven players such as John Brooks, Matt Miazga and a less proven but very promising Cameron Carters-Vickers shoring up the backline.
DeAndre Yedlin would play in his more natural position of right wing back, allowing him more freedom offensively by exploiting his world-class speed. Yedlin’s counterpart on the left side is not as obvious of a choice but it seems more likely that between Jorge Villafana, Darlington Nagbe or Tim Weah lies a solution, at least more probable than hoping Antonee Robinson magically evolves into a serviceable left back.
The delay in hiring a national team coach is a costly mistake
While there may be something commendable about a patient approach to hiring a new, permanent head coach, it is becoming obvious that we are firmly into the lame duck session of the Dave Sarachan era. This is increasingly problematic as the US Men’s team has not been able to implement a style, formation and personality in the image of a permanent hire. A year after the disastrous failure to qualify for the World Cup, the US Men’s team is still lacking direction and a clear sense of identity.
A handful of individual highlights aside, there is very little in the sense of a rebuild of this national team. Any pundit from any random soccer bar across this land can pick out the names that deserved to be called, it is beyond obvious who the deserving players are and that youth needs to be served. However, if the USMNT is to take the next step towards a rebuild it will need to be more than a collection of players.