United States begin their search for a way forward after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup when they host Brazil in a soccer friendly in the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Friday (7:30 PM ET).
USMNT had qualified for seven consecutive World Cups before missing out on Russia 2018 and have unsurprisingly since shifted focus to the younger players coming through who will have opportunities to be involved at Qatar 2022 and beyond.
The squad selected by interim coach Dave Sarachan for the game against Brazil and next Tuesday’s encounter with Mexico in Nashville features not a single player over the age of 29 and just three older than 25. New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long is the only uncapped inclusion, but there are 17 players in the 25-man group with less than 10 caps to their credit.
Sarachan has taken a similar approach in all six of his previous matches in temporary charge since stepping in to replace Bruce Arena in the wake of the failure to qualify for the World Cup. He has said that it is important to establish a core of young players so that when the next permanent head coach is named, he already has some building blocks in place.
The search for those building blocks has been a rather frantic one, with 38 different players starting across those six matches. But certain patterns have begun to emerge. Cameron Carter-Vickers, DeAndre Yelin and Matt Miazga look like preferred options in defence, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Wil Trapp in midfield and Bobby Wood up front.
Others will be slotted in around them, including teenage talents such as Timothy Weah, who scored on his first start for the national team against Bolivia, and Josh Sargent, who also scored in that match but has not been selected for these friendlies. Christian Pulisic will also undoubtedly become a key player but has again missed out through injury.
Brazil are at a slighter different stage in their development path. Although there is clearly a need for a degree of regeneration given the age of some of the players they took to Russia in the summer, it is not the full-scale revolution being undertaken in the United States. During the cycle, head coach Tite will gradually filter out some of the older members of his group.
That much is clear from the squad he has selected for Friday’s match and a second against El Salvador in Maryland next Tuesday. Filipe Luis and Thiago Silva are still present despite both being 33, while Willian, who will be 33 himself by the time Qatar 2022 comes around, is also included.
There are also a number of new faces, with over the half the squad made up of players who were not involved in Russia. Some of those are older stopgaps, but there are younger talents, too, including new Barcelona midfielder Arthur, Everton forward Richarlison, Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira and the highly promising Flamengo attacking midfielder Lucas Paqueta.
Given that being a head coach in South America, whether at club or national team level, generally involves a great deal of instability, it was somewhat surprising yet also refreshing to see Brazil stick with Tite after their quarter-final exit from the World Cup. He and his team were far from flawless in Russia, but he clearly improved them after taking over from Dunga early into the qualifiers and deserves the opportunity to lead them forward.
Indeed, Brazil’s quarter-final loss to Belgium came at the end of a 15-match unbeaten streak, while their sum of results under Tite to date reads: 20 wins, four draws and two defeats.
That is quite the record, and one that the United States will struggle to make a dent in on Friday. Even with both teams at full strength, Brazil would be expected to secure a relatively comfortable victory. That this match pits a Brazil squad with Neymar and a number of experienced internationals against a fresh-faced USMNT group in transition will only amplify that difference.
Our Preview’s United States vs. Brazil Picks & Predictions Verdict
When looking at our preview’s USA vs Brazil predictions with the top U.S. offshore betting sites, even the most ardent Team USA fans might have to concede that Brazil are by far the more likely winners.
- Bet on Brazil to be winning at both half time and full time @ -110 with Bovada.