The US Men’s National Team has officially begun their journey to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They defeated the Czech Republic in Prague last night by a score of 1-0. Alejandro Bedoya scored a goal in the 39th minute to propel the US to victory. ‘”It just shows that the States has a deeper pool,” said Bedoya. “There’s a bunch of great, young, talented players coming through.”
America had better have some young, talented players coming through if they’re to meet head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s lofty goals. As many soccer fans know, USA made it out of the “Group of Death” in this summer’s World Cup. They finished second behind Germany in pool play, while Portugal and Ghana were sent home. However, the Americans’ dreams ended in the Round of 16 with a 2-1 loss to Belgium.
“Once you get out of the most difficult group in the World Cup, you should go further than just Round of 16,’’ Klinsmann told the Boston Globe. “This is our goal going toward Russia, not to stop at the Round of 16, maybe not to stop at the quarterfinal, to say clearly, listen: We have four years to prepare for this cycle. Our goal is going into a semifinal in a World Cup. And that means a lot of work, a lot of competition, a lot of grind.”
With four years before the Russian-hosted 2018 World Cup, Klinsmann has plenty of time to prepare younger players. Much has already been made about budding stars like Julian Green, the 19-year-old who scored against Belgium, and John Brooks, the 21-year-old defender who scored the go-ahead goal in a victory over Ghana. However, there were some new faces in the lineup against the Czechs.
18-year-old midfielder Emerson Hyndman made his first national appearance, as did 21-year-old forward Joe Gyau and 23-year-old defender Greg Garza. Klinsmann spoke about the youth movement by saying, “It was important to see what is coming through in our talent pool. For 65, 70 minutes, it went really well.”
One player who was noticeably absent from the starting lineup was Tim Howard. The famed goalkeeper has decided to take a well-deserved year off from international play. However, even at age 35, many expect him to be manning the net for USA when the 2018 World Cup arrives.