EAST HARTFORD, Conn. – Dave Sarachan keeps giving the U.S. a glimpse of its soccer future. His successor will find out whether these kids are all right.
Josh Sargent scored early in the second half and three more Americans made their debuts under Sarachan before a young United States team conceded an 86th-minute goal to Enrico Flores in a 1-1 exhibition tie on Tuesday night.
“They’ve established an identity of competing, playing aggressively, coming together, understanding each other, building a camaraderie on and off the field,” Sarachan said.
Sarachan has given debuts to 22 players in 10 matches since replacing Bruce Arena after the Americans’ loss at Trinidad and Tobago in October last year, which ended a streak of seven straight World Cup appearances. The U.S. has three wins, three losses and four ties under the interim coach.
A new coach is expected to be hired this year – Gregg Berhalter of Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew is the favorite – but it remains unclear who will run the team for matches at England on Nov. 15 and five days later against Italy in Genk, Belgium.
“Until they tell me I’m not, I’m full bore man, keep going,” Sarachan said. “This is too much fun.”
Sargent, an 18-year-old who has yet to play a first-team professional match, made his second international start and fifth appearance. He scored off a training routine in the 49th minute when Kellyn Acosta took a free kick from a flank and sent the ball along the ground toward the middle of the penalty area. Sargent made a curling run and from the right side of the penalty spot took a shot that deflected off a leg of Renato Tapia and past goalkeeper Jose Carvallo.
Sargent, among a record six teenagers to play for the U.S. in 2018, has six goals in 10 games this season for Werder Bremen II in the German fourth tier. This was his second goal for the national team.
“We have a lot of young guys trying to figure everything out still, bond and figure out how one another plays,” Sargent said. “We’re still going to try to improve that going forward.”
Right back Reggie Cannon, central defender Aaron Long and 19-year-old midfielder Jonathan Amon were given debuts as Sarachan made nine changes from Thursday’s 4-2 loss to Colombia. Left back Ben Sweat also started after making his debut as a second-half substitute last week.
Brad Guzan was in goal for the first time since a World Cup qualifier at Honduras in September 2017. The 34-year-old made his 59th international appearance; the other 10 U.S. starters combined for 48 coming in. The starting lineup included three teens and averaged 23 years old.
“A lot of us have played with one another on youth teams and I think there is a lot of team chemistry coming through,” Sargent said.
Before a mostly pro-Peru crowd of 24,959 , Guzan didn’t have much to do until Flores scored his 10th international goal when he got behind DeAndre Yedlin and tapped in a cross from Andy Polo. Yedlin had replaced Cannon two minutes earlier.
Polo almost tied it for Peru in the 75th minute, hitting the underside of crossbar from 25 yards. Guzan had to punch out a cross from Yordy Reyna in stoppage time.
Michael Bradley, who played for the U.S. last week for the first time since the loss in Trinidad, entered in the 79th minute for his 142nd international appearance, passing Clint Dempsey for third on the American list behind Cobi Jones (164) and Landon Donovan (157).
Cannon appreciates having the veterans around.
“They give us the confidence that we’re here and we belong here,” he said. “These young players, we were called for a reason.”
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