The US Men’s National Team defeated Paraguay 1-0 last night in Cary, North Carolina, in a game that was billed to be an opportunity for many American youngsters to get valuable playing time. This was true, to a certain extent. Older national team regulars like Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Geoff Cameron were left off of the roster, while exciting prospects Tyler Adams, Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers were given starting nods. As a fan who bought tickets to this match specifically to see the next generation of American soccer in person, the starting lineup seemed to be an encouraging and exciting sign for the night to come.
I should have known better than to get my hopes up, especially when the second half started without a single change on the field. The second half dragged on and on, with very little exciting action from either side. I found myself longingly watching the substitutes warm up on the sidelines more than the players on the pitch, hoping that one of them would come on soon and change the entire mood of the stadium. Unfortunately, my wishes for a change weren’t granted until the 67th minute, when Rubio Rubin was subbed on, yet he failed to make a palpable difference.
Throughout the rest of the match, only 3 more subs were made by the US, none offering a player more than 15 minutes of game time. The lack of subs was incredibly frustrating and completely inexplicable. This Tuesday night on the humble fields of WakeMed Soccer Park offered the perfect environment for a young player to experience the international game. The stakes were low, yet still against formidable opposition in Paraguay, and since it was an international friendly each team was allowed six substitutions. Why wouldn’t you use this chance to evaluate and develop all of the players that you have at your disposal?
If I could find any solace at all in the night, it was that the young players who were given a chance from the start ended up being the best players on the field. Adams, Marky Delgado, and Wil Trapp solidly dominated the midfield all game, while Miazga and Carter-Vickers each overcame shaky moments to put together a largely successful showing. With such encouraging performances from those who got to play against Paraguay, the US coaching staff should take note. Play the kids!