With no World Cup positional battles to sort out and no job security issues to concern him, interim USMNT coach Dave Sarachan passed over mainstays from Michael Bradley to Christian Pulisic in favor of a young, inexperienced squad to face Paraguay in Cary, North Carolina on March 27.
This callow crew has an average age of just over 23 years old, so it is no surprise that the roster features five first time call-ups, with that quintet among the more interesting prospects in the group.
Previously best known as the son of George Weah, the current President of Liberia and the former World Player of the Year, 18-year-old attacker Tim Weah recently made his senior debut for French super club Paris Saint-Germain after impressing for the U.S. at the U17 World Cup.
Another to make his European club debut of late is former U.S. U20 captain Erik Palmer-Brown who began his career with Belgian side KV Kortrijk, following a loan from Manchester City, who signed the center back from his home club of Sporting KC.
Antonee Robinson is another young player who has gone on loan to seek the first-team action, in his case the English born and raised 20 year old went from Everton to English Championship side Bolton, where he has seen regular minutes at a perennial position of need for the U.S., left fullback.
Another fullback to get his first call to the full national team squad is Shaq Moore, who made his La Liga debut for Levante in September, even earning a start against Barcelona. With competitors returning from injury, Moore has not seen much action of late for Levante, so this call-up comes at a good time for the 21-year-old.
The least known of the five is 6’4” striker Andrija Novakovich. The 21-year-old Wisconsin native signed on with English Championship club Reading in 2014 but has only recently hit his stride with a loan to Dutch second division side SC Telstar. Novakovich’s total of 18 goals is second in the Eerste Divisie, reason enough to bring the lanky striker in for a closer look.
Though no longer a debutante Israeli-American Kenny Saief returns to the U.S. fold after picking up an injury in his U.S. bow at last summer’s Gold Cup. After switching allegiances from the Israeli national team Saief was injured in his Gold Cup debut last summer. Now after impressing this season for Anderlecht, the intriguing midfielder gets another chance to impress, well, I’m not sure who this group needs to impress.
WIth no permanent coach and no General Manager yet on board this young group will just have to go and do its job and let the chips fall where they may.
UPDATED U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Alex Bono (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland/DEN; 5/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 1/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Ipswich Town/ENG; 1/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 14/1), Matt Miazga (Vitesse/NED; 4/1), Shaq Moore (Levante/ESP; 0/0), Erik Palmer-Brown (Kortrijk/BEL; 0/0), Antonee Robinson (Bolton Wanderers/ENG; 0/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 15/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 49/0)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 2/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Kekuta Manneh (Pachuca/MEX; 0/0), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 1/1), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United FC; 24/1), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 2/0), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 1/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 3/0), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 0/0)
FORWARDS (3): Andrija Novakovich (Telstar/NED; 0/0), Rubio Rubin (Club Tijuana/MEX; 4/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER; 36/10)