Two teams searching for a way forward after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup meet when United States host Paraguay at Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary, North Carolina on Tuesday (7:30 PM ET).
Team USA endured a disastrous qualifying campaign, with neither Jurgen Klinsmann nor his replacement Bruce Arena able to prevent them failing to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986. In terms of talent, organisation and preparation, they were found wanting.
Dave Sarachan is currently in interim charge as US Soccer seek the right candidate to lead the team forth into the 2022 World Cup cycle, and Arena’s former assistant has named a young and experimental squad for Tuesday’s match that very much looks to the future.
His 23-man squad has an average age of just over 23 years. There are a full seven previously uncapped players in his selection, a further 10 with five or less caps to their name and just three with 20 or more. Sarachan has taken the fixture as an opportunity to gather together some of the country’s brightest young talents in order to test them out at this level.
Christian Pulisic will not be involved following negotiations with his club side Borussia Dortmund, who are keen to have him fresh and ready for their match against Bayern Munich next weekend. There are other promising youngsters to watch out for.
Timothy Weah is the son of the great Liberian striker George Weah and recently made his debut for Paris Saint-Germain in France, while left-back Antonee Robinson is getting regular minutes at Bolton Wanderers in the English Championship. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Erik Palmer-Brown and Matt Miazga are interesting options in the centre of the defence, while in midfield, Kenny Saief and Weston McKennie are getting regular minutes at European clubs.
While the squad for next year’s Gold Cup is likely to feature a few more experienced names, this is probably now the end of the road for the likes of goalkeeper Tim Howard, central defender Geoff Cameron, full-back DaMarcus Beasley and forward Clint Dempsey. USMNT needs to move forward by putting faith in a promising next generation.
Paraguay find themselves in a similar position. They always knew that qualification would be a tough ask in the highly competitive South American qualifying group, but despite an inconsistent campaign, victory at home to Venezuela on the final match day would have been sufficient to see them qualify. As it was, they fell to a frustrating 0-1 defeat.
Interim coach Gustavo Moringo hasn’t, however, been quite as ambitious as his opposite number when it comes to his squad selection. There are four uncapped players in his 21-man group, but of those, only midfielder Richard Sanchez is younger than 26. There are plenty of players in their mid-twenties but no obvious bet on youth.
The squad does feature a familiar face for American fans in the form of Atlanta United attacking midfielder Miguel Almiron, winner of the last year’s Best MLS Newcomer award, while Dynamo Kiev winger Derlis Gonzalez and the Romero twins, Angel and Oscar, are also worth keeping an eye on. They are the players around whom Paraguay’s attack will now be built.
United States secured a 1-0 victory when these sides last met during the group stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario, but they are tied at two wins apiece in their four encounters since the turn of the millennium. It is a fixture with a certain degree of history behind it, as USMNT ran out 3-0 winners when they met in the first ever World Cup back in 1930.
But all eyes are now on the future. It would be unrealistic to expect a particularly cohesive performance from United States on Tuesday given the inexperience in the squad, but if there are some standout individual performances and signs that fruitful partnerships are being established in key positions that will be enough to provide hope for what lies ahead.
Our Preview’s USMNT vs Paraguay Betting Tips Verdict
Paraguay have more experience in their ranks and that could prove decisive, but this is nevertheless a tough match to call. In truth, when considering our Team USA vs Paraguay predictions and picks, it could go either way. The safest betting approach may be to back ‘both teams to score’ and simply see how the match plays out.
- Back both teams to score @ evens (1/1 or +100) with Bovada.