In the heat of the MLS playoff chase we have a couple international friendlies for you to keep an eye on. Despite multiple RSL players being called up for their respective national teams, none will feature for the red, white and blue. These games are still worth watching though. Let me break down Thursday’s game and what you need to know.
When: Thursday, October 11th at 5:30pm
Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
How to watch: FS1, Univision, or Univision Deportes
What to watch for:
The US continues a fall that sees a young core of players take on some of the best nations that World Soccer has to offer. The US played Brazil and Mexico last month, splitting those games with a win and a loss. Now, over a stretch of a week the US will face both Colombia and Peru. Two nations that qualified for the 2018 Russia edition of the World Cup.
There are a number of exciting players on this Colombia squad that can electrify the crowd and get goals by the handful. Keep an eye on the dynamic likes of James Rodriguez of Bayern Munich as well as Juan Cuadrado of Juventus fame. Both should get the start and push the US teams ability to defend. Combine the midfield duo with strikers like Radamel Falcao and Carlos Bacca and this should provide ample testing for the US’s shape and discipline.
On the US side of things there are some notable absences as well as a couple of first timers. Three of the most promising young US players are all out with injury. Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams all had to decline call ups due to knocks they have suffered at the club level. However, due to their absence, the US has three new faces that could all receive their first caps.
Jonathan Amon is a pacey 19 year old from Summerville, South Carolina. He recently signed his first adult pro contract for FC Nordsjælland in the Dutch Super League.
Reggie Cannon, a 20 year old Chicago native is currently under contract as a defender for FC Dallas.
And Ben Sweat, who despite being 27 years of age will get his first call up to the senior team. He is a defender for NYCFC in MLS.
On the other hand, you also see two veterans who in my humble opinion should not have been called in. Both Brad Guzan and Michael Bradley received call ups for the friendlies. Despite their experience and quality, I think this is a step back for the federation and could be a detriment to youth development. It is well documented that Bradley is an “alpha-male” who is highly competitive and less than kind to young, up and coming players. With his voice in the locker room, the fear is that the younger leaders will defer to him rather than seek to establish their leadership. While Alexi Lalas can be controversial, I think he is right on in his assessment that you can listen to here. All around, not a good choice and frankly, both should have retired after their failed bid at qualification in 2017.
My Prediction: I don’t think this friendly ends well for the US, I am going with a 3-0 route for Colombia. That is of course unless Hurricane Michael causes the whole thing to be cancelled.