The USA Men’s National Team has been a bit of an anomaly in the past couple of years. By defeating Mexico at the legendary Azteca Stadium, America has increased the list of big victories that includes teams like Italy and Spain in recent times. But, amongst such glorious victories have also been painful defeats at the hands of Brazil and also Mexico. Another issue for the USA was the failure to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, which hampered hopes that America will improve in international matches.
But the youth was on fine display in the Mexico friendly and proved vital in scoring the game’s lone goal. Brek Shea made a fine run to set up the goal, putting in a glorious nutmeg on a Mexican defender and penetrating deep into the penalty box, before sending a pass across the face of the goal. Shea is only 22 and plays for FC Dallas in the MLS. At 6’3”, the winger is a physical presence and will be a key weapon for the national team if he continues to make plays like these. Shea trained with Arsenal during the offseason and may well make a move to Europe in the coming years to further develop.
Another solid youngster is forward Terrence Boyd. Only 21, Boyd played a fantastic role in setting up the goal against Mexico when he received Shea’s pass, and back-heeled it further across the goal where Michael Orozco Fiscal could tap it into the net. Boyd plays in Austria and looks like he could be a favorite of Jurgen Klinsmann with his German roots and good early performances.
Although he didn’t play in this match, Jozy Altidore is enjoying a resurgent season at AZ Alkmaar in Holland. Through the first two games, he has scored an impressive four goals and could be righting himself again. Aged 22 he is another force to contend with up top.
Clearly USA is still going to favor Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey as they continue to impress and are in the prime of their careers, but these young forwards are biting at the chomp to impress and have earned the right for extended playing time. More competition is only a good thing for the team, so this week America can celebrate the glorious Mexican victory and feel confident going forward to 2014 World Cup qualification matches. Let us only hope that the team can establish some sort of consistency after this run and may actually compete when another big match comes about. If the youngsters continue to shine, we may have a great American soccer team in the making.