U.S. young give hope for men’s national team

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Lucas Milgrim, Sports Editor

The U.S. mens national soccer team has historically had its share of ups and downs.  Early on in its history, the team was extremely competitive and successful, reaching the semifinals of the 1930 World Cup and winning in 1950.  However, it quickly entered a downward spiral after that, not returning to the cup for 40 years, and then achieved glory again, with success in the 1990s and 2000s the team has struggled recently.  It failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, an extreme disappointment.

Lately, however, the team seems to be taking steps in the right direction.  Head coach Gregg Berhalter has stacked his squad up with a few big-name stars and a supporting cast of players with the potential to become great.  We have seen this begin to translate into success in the recent friendly matches, which ended at  1-0-1.  They drew against Wales, 0-0, but had a resounding victory over Panama, 6-2, without some of their main stars.  These two promising games give hope for the future, especially considering the personnel available. 

The biggest source of excitement for the future of U.S. soccer is the 22 year old midfielder Christian Pulisic, who is already one of the best soccer players in the world.  Pulisic plays in the highly-regarded English Premier League with Chelsea when not with the U.S. team.  He began his professional career as a 16 year old, signing with Borussia Dortmund in 2015, and Pulisic shone early on.  

Two years later, he was named the U.S. Player of the Year.  He holds many records as the youngest player to reach multiple milestones, including the youngest USMNT player to appear in and score in a World Cup qualifier and the youngest to score a goal in a Champions League game.  Pulisic is already an astounding player, and he has shown out on the international platform.  He has netted 14 goals and set up nine others by assisting in a mere 34 games.  At 22, Pulisic’s future is bright, and he is poised to lead the USMNT for years to come.

“Pulisic excites USMNT fans, as he is a star for one of the biggest, if not the biggest, clubs in Europe,” said sophomore Jesse Schiff.   

Pulisic is the clear headliner for the promising group, but there are many other potential greats in the making on the team.  One of these is Gio Reyna, the son of U.S. legend Claudio Reyna.  Reyna is only 18 years old, but he has already begun to prove himself as a potential starter for the USMNT.  

He, like Pulisic, saw his professional career begin in Germany with Borussia Dortmund, at the age of 16, and he appeared in multiple matches for the renowned team before becoming the youngest to score a goal in the German Cup.  Prior to his first appearance, Reyna was a leader among the U.S. national team’s youth affiliates.  He had been in the organization since he was 15, and was named the captain of the under-17 squad before his eventual promotion.  

Gio Reyna’s career is just getting started, as he has had only two appearances so far with one goal.  Reyna is set to start for the U.S. men’s team as a midfielder alongside Pulisic, creating a young duo with the potential to dominate the international stage for many years to come.  

With an established star in Pulisic, and a potential one in Reyna, the U.S. team only has to build a solid starting lineup around these two in order to succeed.  Much of the rest of this lineup is also youthful, and, by developing them all together, Berhalter has a unique opportunity to groom the entire team for the future.  

Some of these players, like Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie, are experienced in international play, but are still young, at 21 and 22 years old, respectively.  McKennie, the first American to play for the storied Italian club Juventus, has scored six times in his 21 appearances.  Adams, a defender, has had 12 games on the squad, and both players provide necessary experience to help bring along the youth.  

“If you take a look at the past decade, the amount of young American prospects have increased exponentially, playing at some of the top leagues in Europe.  Normally you would never hear of an American playing in some of these leagues, but you have youngsters like Sergiño Dest playing along the likes of Messi and Christian Pulisic playing on Chelsea, a team third in the premier league.  This gives hope to the future of the USMNT, putting us on the right path to success,” said sophomore Youso Lee. 

The U.S. men’s team has been headed in the wrong direction in recent years.  After failing to qualify for the previous World Cup though, they appear to be poised to make many championship appearances in the next few years.