The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is simple and easy. Keep your back straight, put your tongue against the roof of your mouth and purse your lips just a little bit.
Now... BIG, whooshing exhale through your mouth. Then close your mouth and take a slow, quiet inhale through your nose to a four count. Hold your breath to a count of seven. Then exhale slowly through your mouth to a count of eight. Now close your mouth again and take a slow, quiet inhale through your nose to a four count. Hold your breath to a count of seven. Then exhale slowly through your mouth to a count of eight.
Repeat until you calm down.
Ok, we all good? The US national team roster for Portugal is out and it's always a stressful day, so I thought some pre-column breathing exercises would be helpful. I know the vast majority of the fanbase gets pretty worked up on roster day, but I have your continued good health in mind, dear readers.
Here's a thing to remember: It's 600 (or so) days until the next official USMNT games. We've already hit the low point, and now begins the process of climbing off the bottom of the pit, step by step. It's not going to happen all at once, and quality players who aren't on this roster will surely get at least a look for future rosters, and it'll be under a coach other than Dave Sarachan, the current acting head coach.
Let's take a look at what the US have for Portugal next week...
Youth is served
There are four teenagers on the roster (Cameron Carter-Vickers; Weston McKennie; Tyler Adams; Josh Sargent), which is a lot. There'd have been a fifth if the US had pushed and demanded that Borussia Dortmund release Christian Pulisic, and maybe a sixth if Djordje Mihailovic hadn't ruptured his ACL in the Knockout Round. Then there'd be a seventh if the US had stupidly wanted to force Monterrey's hand on Jonathan Gonzalez (more on that in a minute).
So yes, this roster could conceivably have been younger. But we're still getting a look at four guys under the age of 20 who most have pegged as long-time centerpieces of the program. Maybe they will be, maybe they won't be. Either way I'm glad the discovery process starts now.
Why no Jonathan Gonzalez?
He’s playing in a match to secure first place in LigaMX this week. We’ll see him soon!— Evan Peters (@The_Fuchs) November 7, 2017
MLS isn't the only league that occasionally plays through an international date. Monterrey are currently top of Liga MX with a game in hand, and that game in hand comes this Thursday. Gonzalez, an 18-year-old d-mid who chews up ground in the center of the park and is a simple and efficient passer, is their Ozzie Alonso. He is essential to their hopes.
Calling him in and forcing him to miss such an important game – Rayados would be obligated to release him, as per FIFA regs – would have been counterproductive. It would for sure have alienated the team, and would also have risked alienating the kid. The first is bad, but the second is worse since Gonzalez is a dual-national who still has the option to represent Mexico.
There are, so far, no indications he's going to use that option. Gonzalez signed with Monterrey over Chivas three years ago specifically because he's committed to the US program, and recent indications are that commitment is solid (reports in the Mexican press say so, as does a friend of mine who's very involved with the US team and just spent a week consulting for the Monterrey academy).
Even if it wasn't solid, though, calling him up for this game does... nothing. Gonzalez can't be cap-tied until the 2019 Gold Cup, so just keep doing your breathing exercises, folks.
(For what it's worth, that game on Thursday is against Santos Laguna, and the US did in fact call Santos left back Jorge Villafaña for this roster. Villafaña is a sometimes-starter for los Laguneros, but this game means next to nothing for for them – they're not in danger of relegation, and they have no chance at making the liguilla.)
Cristian Roldan could do that midfield job, too!
Perhaps, and so too, perhaps, could Marky Delgado or Wil Trapp or Michael Bradley. All those guys are busy with the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, though, and it's good of U.S. Soccer not to force them to fly across an ocean for a friendly. It's the right move.
We'll see plenty of those four guys in the camps to come.
I know, right? I'm kind of excited about that, too, even though I don't rate Sargent quite as high as many other folks do. And I generally hate calling in non-professionals, no matter how talented. The last US player to get that honor, of course, was Jordan Morris.
But I get it with regard to Sargent. He's a high-level prospect, and it's very unlikely the US will get to see him in January camp, and there's kind of a risk he could end up disappearing until 2019 or even 2020, since he's signing with a team that's in a relegation scrap. Werder Bremen are objectively terrible (five points through 11 games) and are probably going to be playing in the 2.Bundesliga next season, which means Sargent's going to a team that will first be A) clawing to stay up, and then likely B) clawing to get back up.
Young players, even in Germany, tend not to get a lot of run in situations like that. Managers in relegation battles are notorious for turning to old hands.
That doesn't mean Sargent can't get called in the future, of course. Even if he's going to be spending more time than I'd like from him in the reserves, he's still a talent. But my guess is that his next 18 months consist of a lot of time with those reserves and a lot of goals with the US U-20s, and not too many full USMNT camps and caps.
Hopefully I'm wrong. Dude understands how to make runs and has looked like the best pure finisher in US youth set-ups since Steve Snow:
Truth be told, the US could've called in all three guys on that above goal and I'd have been mostly ok with it.
Why the olds, then?
Only two (Alejandro Bedoya and Tim Ream) of the 21 players on this roster are over 30. Have you ever started a new job and learned a few tricks of the trade from guys who've been at said job for a while?
Nobody's saying that Bedoya and Ream are going to be around til 2022. But both have experience on two continents in good leagues, and neither's particularly busy at the moment. Any coach in the world will tell you it's good to have a few guys like that in the locker room just to help set a tone.
That defense looks niiiiice... wait, no Justen Glad????
I don't get it and am a little bit heated, but here's the thing: Any time I talk about Glad to someone in U.S. Soccer they talk about how he needs to get stronger (and I don't disagree). It's universal.
Now, it's not going to be Sarachan making these picks in the future. But Glad should spend a lot of time this winter eating protein and then going to the gym, and then eating more protein and then going to the gym again. He's got a good frame that should fill out, but the sooner the better.
Well, at least we can begin the Ethan Horvath era!
Calm your jets, hoss. Horvath just lost his starting job with Club Brugge. My guess is that it's a wide open competition for the USMNT No. 1 kit over the next two years, with the three guys in this camp as well as veteran Brad Guzan and fellow youngsters Zack Steffen and Alex Bono.
Who else should be here?
I'd have called in both Fire fullbacks, Matt Polster and Brandon Vincent. I'd definitely have taken Christian Ramirez as well, over one of either Dom Dwyer or Juan Agudelo. And – not kidding here – I think I'd have figured out how to get a young, creative attacker like Jonathan Lewis or Andrew Carleton (hey, if Sargent can make it, why not Carleton?) onto this roster as well.
The US, in the years to come, are stocked at center back and central midfield, and seem to be in a better place with regard to both fullback slots than they've been previously. It's not clear, however, if there are any elite attackers out there besides Pulisic. I want to see some creativity pushed through the ranks.
We saw guys like Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan and Lee Nguyen marginalized for a decade. We didn't get to see Kelyn Rowe (who I'm happy is on this roster) til he was 25, and didn't get to see Sebastian Lletget until he was 24. Culturally speaking, we have a nasty habit of not trusting our own attacking talent at the club level, and that means they don't get to show out for the national team until years after they should.
A big chunk of the next two years should go toward fixing that.
U.S. Men’s National Team Roster vs. Portugal
|GK||Jesse Gonzalez||FC Dallas|
|GK||Bill Hamid||FC Midtjylland|
|GK||Ethan Horvath||Club Brugge|
|D||Cameron Carter-Vickers||Sheffield United|
|D||Eric Lichaj||Nottingham Forest|
|D||Jorge Villafaña||Santos Laguna|
|D||DeAndre Yedlin||Newcastle United|
|M||Kellyn Acosta||FC Dallas|
|M||Tyler Adams||New York Red Bulls|
|M||Alejandro Bedoya||Philadelphia Union|
|M||Weston McKennie||Schalke 04|
|M||Kelyn Rowe||New England Revolution|
|M||Danny Williams||Huddersfield Town|
|F||Juan Agudelo||New England Revolution|
|F||Dom Dwyer||Orlando City SC|
|F||CJ Sapong||Philadelphia Union|
|F||Josh Sargent||Werder Bremen|