This week the US Men’s National Team made headlines for the first time in a while. We got our first glimpse at the beautiful kits that the Men’s and Women’s teams will be wearing against Paraguay on Tuesday and throughout 2018. Despite the clean and crisp look of the new Nike jerseys, it was attended by a melancholy that comes with knowing that we won’t be wearing them in Russia. The jersey generated no small buzz though, especially amongst the young and hungry national team players like Tim Weah of Paris Saint-Germain that are chomping at the bit to get on the field and prove themselves for their country. So with all the positivity that we can muster, here is everything you need to know about Tuesday’s tilt with Paraguay!
Why it matters
There is so much to be excited for and optimistic about with the upcoming generation of footballers in the US. I cannot remember a time in recent history where so many young national team players were signed with well known European clubs and actually seeing minutes. We have Matt Miazga at Vitesse, Weston McKennnie at Schalke, Kenny Saief at Anderlecht, Tim Weah at Paris Saint-Germain, Shaq Moore at Levante, DeAndre Yedlin at Newcastle United, and the list goes on. Most notable amongst them is Christian Pulisic at Borussia Dortmund, and while he won’t be apart of this friendly as he was granted permission to stay with his club, he and the list of others are something to be very excited about as we move forward. To put into perspective the potential of these young yanks, look no further than Shaq Moore at Levante. He is a baby faced 21 years old and is only the fourth American ever to feature for a top flight Spanish team in La Liga. The future looks bright!
The average age of this week’s roster is 23 years old. So while we won’t be playing for any hardware any time soon, we are laying the foundation of our countries national team for the next decade.
The US and Paraguay go back, way back. They played against each other in the group stage of the first ever World Cup of 1930. In that match the US won resoundingly 3-0, with Bert Patenaude scoring the first ever World Cup hat trick for the US.
Paraguay is affectionately known as La Albirroja and they have squared off against the US 7 times total since their first ever match in 1930. The US holds a slight advantage going 3-2-2 all time against Paraguay. The most recent win for the US coming in La Copa America Centenario back in 2016.
Similar to the US, Paraguay failed to qualify for Russia 2018 and will be watching the World Cup from home.
Players to watch out for
Paraguay is in a very similar rebuilding phase. Like the US they are directed by an interim head coach in Gustavo Morinigo, and like his American counterpart Dave Sarachan, he will be fielding a team of mostly youngsters as they build for World Cup 2022.
Our Paraguayan player to keep an eye on should look very familiar to US fans and players alike. Miguel Almiron of MLS’s Atlanta United is someone we will be keeping our eyes on. He is familiar with many of the US players he will face, including his club teammate Darlington Nagbe. He is also familiar with the physical style of play that is typical of the US. Expect him to get a good chunk of minutes and feature prominently in the attack for Paraguay.
For the US, we will be keeping a very close eye on Tim Weah. The midfielder burst onto the international scene behind a very solid showing at the U-17 FIFA World Cup in India last summer. Since then he has turned 18 and signed his a first team contract with Paris Saint-Germain. In the last month he has been subbed in twice along side the likes of Neymar, Edinson Cavani, Thiago Silva and Kylian Mbappe just to name a few. This kid has loads of potential and if he can show well on Tuesday we could see him combining with the likes of Pulisic for years to come.
Because it is a friendly featuring a lot of youth on both sides, expect to see a lot of subs and a decent amount of mistakes. This is one of those games that could go 0-0 just as easily as it could go 3-3. With teams this young who haven’t had much time to gel anything could happen. Looking into our crystal ball however, we see a 2-1 Paraguay win in the cards. At the end of the day, the result doesn’t matter, what does matter is that the US sorts out the talent they have on hand, and starts identifying the pillars of the national team for the years ahead.
When: Tuesday, March 27th at 5:30 Mountain Time
Where: Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, located in Cary, North Carolina
Television: FS1 and UniMas