Opinion: Analyzing the U.S. friendlies pre-World Cup

Jake Adams headshot

Jacob Adams

Any other World Cup year, these early June games would mean short-term preparation for the U.S. men’s national soccer team. This year, things are a bit different, so the preparation involves more of developing young players and less of getting a starting XI for the most watched sporting event in the world.

With that being said, these friendlies showed us a lot about some of the future stars of this rebuilding team. Now, it is important not to overreact. These games have no meaning and served strictly for learning purposes. I’m going to break down the assessments by positions.


Zack Steffen was the man of the match in a draw against a powerful French team. He had a fantastic double save to end the match, which easily could have led to defeat if a worse goalkeeper was playing. The 23-year-old positioned himself as a solid replacement for Tim Howard. I believe the U.S. would have qualified with Steffen in goal over the ancient Tim Howard. That is not a complete overreaction either.

On the reverse side, Bill Hamid had a disappointing “redemption game” against Ireland. The last time Hamid was in net against Ireland he had to get the ball out of his net four times. Not all four goals were his fault, but it’s still a confidence killer. This year, he only had to get it out twice, but was shakey the whole game. He struggled to come off his line on set pieces, and did not pass well out of the back.

Alex Bono was the goalkeeper in the 3-0 victory against a weak Bolivia team, which was not the ideal test for someone with hopes of being called back for the national team. Still, a clean sheet is a clean sheet.

Finally, I was surprised that Ethan Horvath didn’t get any playing time, since he is a promising goalie. It may have to do with lack of playing time with his club, and the own goal he gave up in a November friendly.


This was the best unit of the team. It shows why the U.S. never has to worry about the depth at this side, especially at center back. Matt Miazga was by far the best, and rooted a starting job with the team. Not only was he a strong defender, but his ability to pass the ball forward and between the lines is incredible.

Cameron Carter-Vickers did well for having to take on some strong competition at the age of 20. He showed his raw physical strength and power, but did place some mistimed tackles that led to fouls. While he may not be the starter, he will definitely be getting called up often.

Tim Parker showed some flashes of excellent defense but also had his fair share of bad moments. Most noticeable on set pieces and with dealing with the pace of the French team.

Antonee Robinson was solid on the left side, which was and has always been a weak spot for the U.S.. He could end up being the long term solution. La Liga right back Shaq Moore had a solid showing as well, although that position is pretty much DeAndre Yedlin’s spot.


The initial reaction has to be the excitement surrounding Tyler Adams, Tim Weah, and Weston McKinnie. Adams is one of the most athletic guys on the team, and can run up and down the pitch. He is an engine in the midfield, which is something the U.S. has been looking since Jermaine Jones.

McKinnie showed his all around skill at the position. He can make tackles and also push up the field into the attack.  I’m excited to see him work with Christian Pulisic in the coming years.

Tim Weah came as advertised, he showed off some pace and skill with the ball. However, he himself said that he wanted to work on being more clinical on goal. That will have to come with first team experience, which is going to be nearly impossible to find at PSG, so I expect to see him placed on loan this upcoming season.

Wil Trapp was impressive as a holding midfielder. He can sit in front of the backline and pick out passes up field. That will be important, depending on whether or not Michael Bradley will make a return to this team.

Julian Green is good for a goal against a powerhouse European team every four years. Will he ever reach the star status expected from him? Probably not, but he can be a good forward in the future, something any national team always needs.


Josh Sargent had an excellent camp, and if he can play right away at Werder Bremen, in Germany, then he’ll be an automatic call up. He is going to need time to develop, though, since he is only 18.

Bobby Wood was disappointing since he is one of the most experienced players on the team. His mistimed run into the box led to a goal, but was marked offsides. This could have given the U.S. a win over France instead of a draw.

Overall Team Performance:

The most impressive aspect of this team was how they played as a unit. The energy and movement was excellent. It’s the type of work ethic that you’d hope to see from a team. However, they are still working on the communication and passing aspect, which should come naturally the more they play and practice together.

At the end of the day, I was just happy to watch a U.S. game where it didn’t seem like the 10 other players relied on Christian Pulisic to pull off a magical play. This may seem biased since he was didn’t play the last two friendlies, but the young players held their own against opponents with more skill and experience than them.

I’d say this was a successful “first step” in a four year rebuilding project that is the United States Men’s National Soccer Team.

 Jacob Adams is an opinion columnist. Email him at [email protected]