Last night the United States faced their final game of FIFA World Cup qualifying. Win and go to Russia. . . or lose and go home.
The opponent was Trinidad and Tobago, two small islands from the Caribbean whose backup goalkeeper is still in college. A winnable game? Yes. Did they win? No, they played like they didn’t care. Clint Dempsey didn’t break the goalscoring record. Christian Pulisic’s heroics didn’t rescue the United States. Small, lonely T&T knocked off the land of “fake news”.
Naturally people are bound to overreact, and of course I get to rip this apart. A common phrase sweeping around the Internet is “the USMNT are doomed!” Clint Dempsey will be 38 in four years. Michael Bradley will be 34. Tim Howard will be ancient. How could we possibly recover?
Look at the players coming up through the youth system. Club Brugge’s Ethan Horvath has proved himself a decent shot stopper for one of the Belgian Pro League’s finest sides. He’s only 22. We don’t have to talk about 19 year old Pulisic. We can mention Darlington Nagbe, a 27 year old energetic playmaker that burst onto the scene last summer, and should fill Bradley’s shoes.
Remember the name Weston McKennie. The lively 19 year old midfielder is making waves in the Bundesliga, and Schalke 04 have rewarded him with a five year contract extension. He’s appeared in six of Schalke’s eight games since the end of preseason, and is creating chance after chance for Leon Goretzka and Co.
I can’t wait to see him play alongside Pulisic in the red, white, and blue. Both will be 24 when Qatar rolls around, and even Gedion Zelalem might take strides at mighty Arsenal. To everyone who thinks the USMNT are doomed:
McKennie — Nagbe — Pulisic