Sarachan: USMNT friendlies too important to leave out MLS playoff players

When assembling the US men's national team roster for upcoming matches vs. England and Italy, interim head coach Dave Sarachan only thought about which players he and his staff most wanted to see in action.

That meant including seven players who are currently involved in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Those seven players — Atlanta United’s Brad Guzan and Darlington Nagbe, Columbus Crew SC’s Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp, the New York Red BullsAaron Long and Tyler Adams, and the Portland TimbersJorge Villafaña — are scheduled to arrive in Europe after Sunday's final legs of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

“These are important matches and we only have so many opportunities every year to bring our players together,” Sarachan told ussoccer.com. “This is a FIFA window and we are one of many countries playing matches during this time, so you want to include players that you feel are vital to your program. There are other leagues around the world that have games right before and after these windows, but I feel when the national team calls there is still an importance to bringing players that we feel will be significant to the team now and in the future.”

Aside from the seven still in the playoffs, five other MLS players were called up: Reggie Cannon, Walker Zimmerman, Kellyn Acosta, Sebastien Lletget and Marky Delgado. One noticeable omission was Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley, a longtime USMNT stalwart who returned to the group last month after a yearlong absence.

“With the availability of some players that we didn’t get to see in the last fixture window due to injury, the thinking is this roster gives us depth with young players that still need the experience of big games, especially games abroad,” Sarachan said. “With Michael Bradley, there are a couple reasons. The first is that after having earned 142 caps, his need for these games is far less important than it would be for players with less experience. Secondly, Michael’s schedule the past two years with Toronto FC has been virtually non-stop and he has largely played without a break. At this stage, it made sense to give him some extra time off and also allow these games to be a platform for players that lack that kind of experience.”

To read Sarachan’s entire Q&A with ussoccer.com, click here.


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