United States vs. Paraguay
WakeMed Soccer Park — Cary
Tuesday, March 27 – 6:30 pm CT
WATCH: FS1, UniMas
After a drab goalless draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina in January, the youth movement within the United States national team program continues Tuesday when a 22-man roster with an average age of 23 years old faces Paraguay at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park Tuesday night in an international friendly.
Among Dave Sarachan’s roster are 17 players age 24 or under, which means it could be the nucleus — sans Christian Pulisic — that would compete to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Pulisic was excluded because Borussia Dortmund has a key match coming up with Bayern Munich and the club is trying to secure a spot in the UEFA Champions League.
“As much as we wanted him here I felt it best suits the player to continue in the rhythm and form he’s currently in with his club,” Sarachan said.
United States Outlook
While the roster is young, there are some familiar faces, including former New York Red Bulls central defender Matt Miazga and Newcastle United fullback DeAndre Yedlin, whose 49 caps are tops on this squad.
There are are also names some United States fans might be unfamiliar with, like Andrija Novakovich, a forward at SC Telstar in the Netherlands on loan from Reading. He is one of five first-time call-ups who could make their first U.S. national team appearance.
“Being 6-4, he’s a different type of forward than some of our other players that we have in this camp and in the program,” Sarachan said. “He’s an intriguing one and obviously he’s young, so for me it’s about getting him in and seeing what he’s like now when he’s put amongst the National Team players in training.”
Like the United States, Paraguay narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, conceding in the 84th minute to Venezuela on the final day of CONMEBOL qualification. This is their first match since that crushing home defeat which came five days after a thrilling 2-1 victory over Colombia in Barranquilla that kept their World Cup dreams alive.
Interim coach Gustavo Morinigo hasn’t gone all youth movement like the United States, with his roster a mix of newcomers and established veterans, like 35-year-old Libertad midfielder Cristian Riveros, who has 100 caps.
There are four players seeking their first appearance, including 21-year-old midfielder Richard Sanchez, one of five players from Olimpia in Paraguay’s Primera Division.
“We look to the future already, we need to settle quickly, build a good team, a good roster, so that when the [new coach] comes to stay, he knows how to choose these players or that he wants at that moment,” Moringo said. “We think that everyone’s time is good. I hope we can take advantage of it.”
The United States is 3-2-2 all-time against Paraguay. The most recent meeting came on June 11, 2016 when Clint Dempsey scored the lone goal in a 1-0 victory in the Copa America Centenario in Philadelphia.
Players to Watch
United States — Tim Weah. The son of the legendary George Weah turned president of Liberia, the 18-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward scored a hat trick for the United States at the U-17 World Cup against Paraguay, the first ever for the U.S. in a World Cup knockout round at any level.
“He’s a versatile player that can fit in at a couple different positions, and when you have speed and technical ability combined as a young kid, I think he’s an interesting prospect to offer an opportunity to,” Sarachan said.
Paraguay — Miguel Almiron. The lone MLS player on the La Albirroja roster is the Atlanta United FC standout, who has made 12 appearances with Paraguay since his debut in Sept. 2015. The 24-year-old midfielder, named the MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2017, has one goal and two assists for Atlanta this season.
United States Roster
|GK||Alex Bono||Toronto FC||0/0|
|GK||Zack Steffen||Columbus Crew SC||1/0|
|D||Cameron Carter-Vickers||Ipswich Town||1/0|
|D||Eric Lichaj||Nottingham Forest||14/1|
|D||Erik Palmer-Brown||K.V. Kortrijk||0/0|
|D||Antonne Robinson||Bolton Wanderers||0/0|
|D||Jorge Villafana||Santos Laguna||15/0|
|D||DeAndre Yedlin||Newcastle United||49/0|
|M||Tyler Adams||New York Red Bulls||2/0|
|M||Marky Delgado||Toronto FC||0/0|
|M||Darlington Nagbe||Atlanta United FC||24/1|
|M||Cristian Roldan||Seattle Sounders FC||2/0|
|M||Wil Trapp||Columbus Crew SC||3/0|
|M||Tim Weah||Paris Saint-Germain||0/0|
|F||Rubio Rubin||Club Tijuana||4/0|
|GK||Roberto Junior Fernandez||Botafogo||5/0|
|D||Luis de la Cruz||Guarani||0/0|
|M||Miguel Almiron||Atlanta United FC||12/0|
|M||Derlis Gonzalez||Dynamo Kyiy||28/4|
|M||Juan Rodrigo Rojas||Cerro Porteno||15/0|
|M||Oscar Romero||Shanghai Shenhua||34/2|
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com.