When the USA came up short in Trinidad last month, it ended the team’s hopes for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But it also expedited the introduction of the next generation of the US Men’s National Team. At a camp with three first-time call-ups and 12 players under 24, the future starts now. A new wave of players is ready to take the first steps of their National Team journey, starting with Tuesday’s friendly against Portugal (2:45 p.m. CT; FS1, Univision, UniMás). The three first-timers – Josh Sargent, Tyler Adams (NYRB) and Weston McKennie (Schalke). Sargent is not expected to play today due to an injury.
It’s still surreal for the three teenagers progressing through their first MNT camp. Adams recalls watching forward Juan Agudelo score screamers for the MNT on TV. As one of the Red Bulls academy’s first MLS Homegrown products, his performance was something to aspire to. Agudelo has been a professional soccer player from the time that Adams was 11-years-old. Now, the two are sitting across from each other at team meals and connecting passes through midfield. Adams Named Man of the Match for U20’s v Senegal
McKennie’s ties to the MNT go even further back. Growing up in a military family, the central midfielder spent three years on the Ramstein Air Force Base near Kaiserslautern, Germany. When the MNT visited in March 2006 for a friendly ahead of that year’s World Cup, he was in the stands, watching Clint Dempsey salute the crowd after scoring on a diving header in the side’s 1-0 win against Poland. Earlier in the week, he met MNT legends Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra while the team was quartered on the base.
After a history-making 2017, Josh Sargent’s respite from the U-17 World Cup was interrupted with a call to action. Outside St. Louis, the 17-year-old was at home playing “Call of Duty” when he picked up the phone with an invitation to fly to camp in Portugal. The opportunity was impossible to pass up.
“I never thought I’d be here so soon,” Sargent said. “The fact that I am is amazing. I’m just looking forward to proving that I deserve to be here. We can do it a lot sooner than we thought. It gives the U.S. hope to see a lot of young talents.”