So in the middle of watching some good world teams in their last warm ups before the World Cup (see TV Schedule Below) – it will be fun to see our kids match-up against Paraguay Tuesday night on Fox Sports 1. I am excited to see the some of new kids – especially Wing/Forward Tim Weah – now getting some time at PSG in France along with Nocakovitch who’s tearing up the scoring sheet at Telstar. Interesting to see if McKinnie (Schalke) and Tyler Adams (NY Red Bulls) can continue their tear in the middle (they looked really good last game together) and what will happen in the back with 2 experienced but young outside backs in Villafana on the left and Yedlin on the right along with last games starting pairing of Matt Miazga and Carter-Vickers in the middle in front of Hamid.
Below is the predicted start from Stars & Stripes –
LM Saief RM Nagbe
DM Mckinnie DM Adams
LD Villafana CD Miazga CD Carter Vickers RB Yedlin
GK Bill Hamid
Just a few days left until the Indy 11 open their 1st USL season home season vs FC Cincinnati on Saturday night, March 31st at 7 pm at their new home – Lucas Oil Stadium and we have a Special Ticket Offer from the 11 as we look to fill the stadium and welcome the over 2000 Cincy fans expected to make the trek. Of course our Boys in Blue won their first game 1-0 on the road at Richmond last Saturday and stand as just 1 of 6 teams in the USL East that are undefeated!
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Park and Tailgate for indy 11 Games with the BYB – Parking in the Gate 10 BYB Section is $4 cheaper per game than the stadium’s South Lot- and OBVIOUSLY more fun! Located at 343 W McCarty Street, Gate 10 is just across the street from Lucas Oil Stadium. Gate 10—the 2018 official home of the BYB–is convenient and affordable. Parking is $11 per car for single games, $150 for the season! Click HERE to purchase your pass today.
US Soccer Bonus
Meet the New USMNT Kids ESPNFC Jason Davis
US What to Watch for – Stars and Stripes –
GAMES ON TV
Tues, Mar 27
12:50 pm ESPN Desp Russia vs France
3 pm Fox Sports 1 England vs Italy
3:45 pm ESPN3 Germany vs Brazil
4 pm ESPN Desp Spain vs Argentina
8 pm Fox Sport 1 USA vs Paraguay
11 pm Fox Sports 1 Mexico vs Croatia
Sat, Mar 31
7 am beIn Sport Eibar vs Real Madrid
7:30 am NBCSN Crystal Palace vs Liverpool
9:30 am FS1 Schalke vs Freiburg
10 am NBCSN Man United vs Swansea
12:30 pm NBCSN Everton vs Man City
12:30 pm FS1 ? Bayern Munich vs Dortmund (Pulisic)
3 pm Fox LA Galaxy vs LAFC
7 pm Home Indy 11 vs FC Cincinatti
Sun, Apr 1
8:30 am NBCSN Arsenal vs Stoke City
10:30 am FS1 Werder Bremen ( ) vs Frankfurt
11 am NBCSN Chelsea vs Tottenham
3 pm ESPN Atlanta United vs DC United
United States vs. Paraguay | 2018 International Friendly Match Preview
March 25, 20187:14PM EDTDylan ButlerContributor
United States vs. Paraguay International Friendly
WakeMed Soccer Park — Cary Tuesday, March 27 – 7:30 pm ET 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 Bullscentral defender Matt Miazga and Newcastle United fullback DeAndre Yedlin, whose 49 caps are tops on this squad.There are seven MLS players on the squad, including goalkeeper Alex Bono and midfielder Marky Delgado from treble-winning Toronto FC, both of whom are looking to make their U.S. debut.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|
Tim Weah, Marky Delgado and more: meet the new USMNT kids
Mar 24, 2018Jason Davis
The U.S. men’s national team faces Paraguay on Tuesday in Cary, North Carolina, with a clear focus on the future. The group called in by interim head coach Dave Sarachan is young and largely new. The squad has an average age just over 23 and includes 14 players with three or fewer senior caps.Let’s meet the new kids on the block hoping to put the USMNT on track for the World Cup in 2022.
GK: Alex Bono, Toronto FC
Winning an MLS Cup title as a 23-year-old goalkeeper is bound to get you noticed by the national team. At a point in time when the future of the position is up in the air, Bono has emerged as a legitimate candidate for future No. 1 consideration.”He’s got a ton of growth left. We’re just building the foundation of his career,” TFC goalkeeper coach Jon Conway coach told ESPN FC. “We’ve had some things come together nicely, one being his attitude and improvement and two being the success that the club has had.”Conway also believes in Bono’s ability to win the top spot with the national team. “I don’t see why he can’t be a first-choice international goalkeeper,” he said. “I think at this point, the goalkeepers that we have, between the three we have in, it’s anybody’s position at the moment.”
DF: Shaq Moore, Levante
A 21-year old right-back who took on the challenge of making it in Spain as a teenager, Moore debuted for Levante in November 2017. His combination of speed and technical ability earned him a chance to play in one of the top leagues in the world.”We never had any doubt,” Levante manager Juan Ramon Lopez Muniz told reporters after Moore’s first outing. “He’s a player that we’ve said for a long time is young, he comes from the second team that comes from a lower level, and the level in the first division is high, and he had a rival in front of him of high quality, but we knew he would do well.”He’s a serious kid, disciplined, hard-working, with some important characteristics. Physically, he’s a marvel, fast, he can handle the ball. We didn’t have doubts that he would do badly. He was very calm in that position.”
DF: Erik Palmer-Brown, Kortrijk
Palmer-Brown, 20, is a product of the Sporting Kansas City academy who signed with Manchester City last season and is on loan in Belgium with Kortrijk. Smart, athletic and versatile, the defender moved into the spotlight with excellent performances at last year’s U-20 World Cup.”Erik made big improvements over the last two years, starting with his loan to Porto. This loan helped prepare him as we went into qualifiers for U20 World Cup and had him playing at a high level,” Brian Bliss, Sporting’s director of player Personnel and a U20 national team assistant, told ESPN FC.”He excelled even playing out of position as a midfielder, which helped his development in seeing the game quicker. I’m sure with his passing abilities improving, coupled with his physical qualities, he will be on the right track to helping Kortrijk and Manchester City in the future.”
DF: Antonee Robinson, Bolton Wanderers
An English-born full-back on loan at Bolton from Everton, Robinson is already turning heads at the age of 20. Robinson is a player of real potential at a traditionally weak position for the USMNT.Bolton manager Phil Parkinson highlighted Robinson’s qualities after a strong performance against Sunderland in November. “He was so comfortable physically, and he offers us something extra in the team because he’s so dynamic going forward,” Parkinson said. “The modern-day full-back, like the boys at Fulham last weekend, cover 1,100 meters at high intensity: well we’ve got our own one in Antonee who can cover that kind of distance, no problem.”Robinson’s ability to cover distance and get forward has him second in the Wanderers team in assists, highlighting his potential as an attacking weapon for the United States.
MF: Kekuta Manneh, Pachuca
Originally from The Gambia, Manneh moved to Texas as a teenager to chase a professional soccer dream and famously resided in the U.S. while playing in Vancouver to stay on track for American citizenship.Manneh’s former teammate in Vancouver, defender Pa-Modou Kah, heaped praise on him in 2017 while pointing to issues with consistency. “He’s the kind of player that you pay to come to watch,” Kah told The Canadian Press. “But in football, there’s more to it than just flashy moments. But what he has when he is on the ball, that is God-given talent. That is not something you teach somebody.””There aren’t too many people as quick as him in the league,” said Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter at the time of Manneh’s move from Vancouver in 2017. “One thing I think that gets overlooked is how good of a finisher he is. He’s very good in front of goal.”
MF: Marky Delgado, Toronto FC
A fixture for various U.S. youth national teams, the 22-year-old midfielder came into his own as a member of Toronto FC in 2017. Dan Calichman, a TFC assistant who worked with Delgado at Chivas USA, identified the midfielder’s strengths for ESPN FC. “Marky is a runner. He will break lines, he will look for good spaces. He’s a good one-touch passer. He’s a solid ‘eight’ as a midfielder: he’s a true eight.”Every day he gets to compete against guys that are his equal or better. When you do that, when that’s your environment, you’re going to move up,” he added.As for whether Delgado can help the U.S. get back to the World Cup, Calichman has no doubts. “I would say it’s a no-brainer that Marky can help [the United States] get into that World Cup.”
MF: Tim Weah, Paris Saint-Germain
Living up to his famous name will be difficult, but 18-year old Weah is already making waves at Paris St.-Germain and has an extensive résumé as a U.S. youth international.”At this age, he has a lot of potential,” said U.S. U17 head coach John Hackworth after Weah’s hat trick against Paraguay at the U17 World Cup last year. “He is one of those guys who you can say has a lot of lofty expectations on him because of his name. But he isn’t his dad, he is Tim. He needs to make his own way.””He’s playing for a high-profile club who has seen fit to give him first-team minutes, which is a great sign of his progression,” said U.S. interim coach Dave Sarachan in a Q&A for U.S. Soccer on Sunday. “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.”
FW: Andrija Novakovich, Telstar
Novakovich might be one of the more under-the-radar call-ups in a team full of new names with little exposure. The son of Serbian parents who settled in Wisconsin, Novakovich is a big forward who prefers to play with his head towards goal and the ball at his feet.”The forward position is a very important one, and I’ve always felt in general — not just with our national team but in our country as a whole — that you can’t have enough depth there,” Sarachan said of Novakovich.”Being 6-foot-4, he’s a different type of forward than some of our other players that we have in this camp and in the program. 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 among the national team players in training.”
USA vs. Paraguay, 2018 friendly: What to watch for
Youth will be in abundance in Cary when the Yanks take on La Albirroja.By Donald Wine II@blazindw Mar 26, 2018, 6:00am PDT
The United States will take the field tomorrow in Cary, North Carolina to take on Paraguay in their only friendly match during the March international window. A young squad has been training under American manager Dave Sarachan for the opportunity to test themselves against a South American nation who didn’t make the World Cup but still has a strong squad. The last time these two teams squared off was in the 2016 Copa America group stage, when a Clint Dempsey goal was the difference in a 1-0 victory for the USMNT that sent them through to the quarterfinals.The mission for this match: evaluate the future talent that could be on the international stage for a long time. The average age for the USMNT roster is under 24, with 8 players not having a single international cap. We will get to see how these players compete against a Paraguayan team that has some youth but also some with experience in big matches.
What to Watch for
Control the midfield. Paraguay’s midfield can get out and run, and it will be important for the USMNT to control possession in the midfield and not get stuck on counter attacks. With the all at our feet, the midfield should spread out and put pressure on their defense with crisp passes and being creative in space.
Bend, don’t break. The American defense is young and very inexperienced, and this will be a major test for them to corral the speed that Paraguay possesses. There are going to be times when La Albirroja gets behind them, but if they can bend but not break, we could catch them with numbers going the other way.
Can the youth make the most of their opportunity? This is a chance for the young guys who have never featured for the United States to show that they have the moxie to make it on this stage. It will be cool to see what players like Timothy Weah, Antonee Robinson, and Andrija Novakovich can do against top level competition. Will they respond? Can they break through and execute? It will be fun to watch these young Americans compete.
American manager Dave Sarachan has some options for the lineup that walks onto the field tomorrow to start against Paraguay. In the end, I think he combines some of the experienced players with some of the youth:
LM Saief RM Nagba
DM Mckinnie DM Adams
LD Villafana CD Miazga CD Carter Vickers RB Yedlin
GK Bill Hamid
In goal, Bill Hamid seems to have the edge over Zack Steffen and will earn the start, but I won’t be surprised to see Steffen play in the 2nd half. On the back line, I think Jorge Villafaña and DeAndre Yedlin will start at left and right back, respectively. I could see Antonee Robinson in this lineup as well, but I imagine he and Shaq Moore would be one of the first defenders off the bench. In the middle of the defense, Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers are the two I expect.The midfield is one where I think the starting options are more stable. Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams in the middle, McKennie operating more as a central defensive mid and Adams moving forward at times, should be Sarachan’s preferred option. Darlington Nagbe will try to create havoc on the right wing, and Kenny Saief will get a chance to show he can help out on the left.Up front, I think this is the interestin one. While Timothy Weah is on the roster as a midfielder, I could see him up front later in the match. In the end, I think Sarachan starts with the tall Andrija Novakovich as a second striker to Bobby Wood. Can we use his height on set pieces and corners? Absolutely, and I think Sarachan will think it’s worth a trial.This is an important match for the future of the USMNT. With the several players who have little to no experience on the international stage, the curiosity of what they can do makes this match all the more intriguing. Can the team break through and score their first goal in 2018? Can they hold off La Albirroja’s speed and creativity? It all unfolds tomorrow night in Cary, North Carolina.
Miazga, Carter-Vickers, Palmer-Brown forming crucial defensive foundation
12:13 AM ETJeff CarlisleSoccer
CARY, N.C. — Dave Sarachan has seen a few defenders develop during his coaching career. He was witness to Carlos Bocanegra’s final season with the Chicago Fire before the United States stalwart departed for Europe. He also was present for some of Eddie Pope’s best years in a U.S. national team jersey.Now as Sarachan’s time as caretaker for the U.S. enters its final few months, part of his remit is to help move along the international careers of the next generation of center-backs. Ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Paraguay, he’s seeing some intriguing prospects up close in Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Erik Palmer-Brown. All have excelled for the U.S. Under-20 national team in the past, and all are currently on loan to European clubs from Premier League sides.
“I think we have a good generation of center-backs developing,” Sarachan said on Sunday at the team’s hotel.Good thing, because the window of opportunity at the position has been thrown wide open. Most of the defenders used during the failed attempt to qualify for the 2018 World Cup will be well into their 30s when qualifying for 2022 begins. A notable exception is Wolfsburg’s John Brooks, who is just 25, but he has proven to be injury-prone for much of his career.So with that in mind, Sarachan is keeping an eye — both when he can — on the trio of center-backs in camp. And while playing the ball out of the back is a must for a central defender, Sarachan’s focus is on the defending side of the ball.”It’s defending in all sorts of moments that appear in a game, in transition moments, counters, whether it’s isolated in 1-v-1, keeping-your-feet-moving defending,” he said.”Or if it’s off the ball defending, not being a ball-watcher but understanding that when the ball goes wide, as a center back, you’ve got to take care of a lot of different things — the ball, your opponent, the second runner, your partner.”So it’s multitasking which is the developmental part of experience. It’s not just about one thing, it’s about two or three or four things.”Palmer-Brown, who recently was signed by Manchester City, is currently on loan to Belgian side Kortrijk. Having joined in midseason, he has made just one league appearance, and he admits he’s playing a bit of catch-up with his new club.”I think it’s going good,” the 20-year-old told ESPN FC prior to Sunday’s training session. “The lifestyle, everyone speaks English there, so it’s been an easy transition in that aspect.”But it’s really demanding physically. For like two weeks, I was running after training for an hour. For me, it’s kind of old-fashioned in that sense. That was what was difficult for me.”
That said, Sarachan says he hasn’t detected much rust in Palmer-Brown’s game.”His feet are good, his distribution has been good,” Sarachan said. “The little bit of defending we’ve seen — because we haven’t had that many full scrimmages — seems like he’s comfortable.”Carter-Vickers is undergoing his first full season of first-team action, having made a combined 29 appearances for Ipswich Town and Sheffield United while on loan from Tottenham Hotspur. Carter-Vickers is a defender who seems as wide as he is tall, but also has some skill to go along with his physicality.”This guy is steady, man, steady as a rock,” Sarachan said of Carter-Vickers. “He’s hard, he’s alert, he’s better than you think with the ball.
“He looks like a running back, but as you can imagine, when the moments come that he’s got to get in on a play, or not allow a guy to get behind him, he knows how to use that body. There’s a lot of big guys that don’t, and there’s a lot of little guys that do, but he’s a big guy that knows how to use his body and moves better than you think. He’s just been very consistent all week long.”Of the three, Miazga seems the furthest along, which isn’t a surprise given that at 22, he’s two years older than both Palmer-Brown and Carter-Vickers. He’s made considerable use of nearly two seasons on loan at Vitesse from Chelsea. Last season he helped lead Vitesse to the KNVB Cup, the first major trophy in the club’s 125-year history.With two months to go in the season, he’s played more than 30 matches, including some in the Europa League, and the challenge of playing twice a week is one he welcomes.”There’s not time for excuses, you’ve got to perform at a high level,” he said. “There’s competition, with grown men trying to take your spot. You’re the same.”Obviously it’s good competition, but that’s just the reality of it. You have to be fully ready, consistently focused on performing at a high level, no slip-ups, and just continue playing, and I’ve been able to do that playing a lot of minutes this year.”The right-footed Miazga has become more versatile by playing nearly two seasons as a left-sided center-back. He’s also taken on more of a leadership role within the team.”I’ve been slowly embracing that [role] and taking that to my game, and I’ve seen it paying dividends a lot in terms of communication, awareness and helping my teammates by organizing,” he said. “I think that’s what I’ve improved the most, my communication, my awareness and my organization.”is progress has been noted by Chelsea, who Miazga says pay him a visit every five to six weeks to gauge his progress, and give him feedback on his performances.”They’re very engaged,” he said.His focus remains on the end of the season with Vitesse, and then he’ll speak to the Chelsea brass about what’s next, though it remains to be seen if manager Antonio Conte will even be in charge after the current campaign.”There’s a lot of what-ifs. That’s how football works,” Miazga said with a shrug and a smile.Sarachan has spent much of the week trying to establish chemistry between players, but Miazga, Carter-Vickers and Palmer-Brown have a built-in advantage. All three played for the U.S. at the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup. Carter-Vickers and Palmer-Brown played in the tournament again two years later.”We’re just pushing ourselves along in this journey,” Miazga said. “We have a good connection. We’ve been playing in these national team programs for a while and hopefully we can continue working hard and establishing ourselves in the senior team.”uesday marks the next step.
U.S. fans should ‘temper’ expectations on young group – Sarachan
4:42 PM ETJeff CarlisleSoccer
CARY, N.C. — Interim U.S. men’s national team manager Dave Sarachan said he likes what he’s seen so far from the youthful roster that will face Paraguay on Tuesday, even as he sought to temper expectations about this group of players.Sarachan’s 22-man roster contains five uncapped players, as well as another 10 with five or fewer international appearances. But with this being the third training camp in which he’s been in charge, Sarachan is already noticing some upticks in improvement from some young players that he brought into his first camp last November, including Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie, defender Matt Miazga and midfielder Tyler Adams. “It’s not their first time now,” said Sarachan about his young holdovers. “A lot of them played with youth national teams, but with the senior team, now they come in and they have a familiar staff, a familiar system, a familiar way of doing things, and now it’s just another experience they can build upon.”I see a little more of a confidence factor with some of the younger guys, as opposed to the first camp it was just fresh for a lot of guys.”Sarachan cautioned observers to take a go-slow approach in terms of their expectations. That can be difficult given the pedigree of some young players, like McKennie and 17-year-old Tim Weah, who is the son of former FIFA World Player of the Year George Weah.”People that have followed this young group, there is this expectation that this is potentially the next generation,” Sarachan told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview. “I would say that we should just temper that a little bit because they are young.”Sarachan noted that moves the players are able to pull off in training with their clubs won’t be as easy come Tuesday against a Paraguay side that contains a fair bit of experience.”I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement and that will come hopefully with time,” he said. “I think the baseline has been good. It’s just going to be a little bit hit or miss and a few bumps along the road as they get prepared for this game.”The U.S. roster does have some veteran elements, including defender DeAndre Yedlin, forward Bobby Wood, midfielder Darlington Nagbe and defender Eric Lichaj. Sarachan stated that the quartet is excited to be back in the national team frame, especially now that there is some distance from the World Cup qualifying failure last year.”They’ve almost now have taken it a little bit upon themselves to try to translate some experience to a lot of the younger guys,” he said about the veterans. “But the majority of this group is so young, and with that comes great effort, attitude, initiative, energy and excitement to be here.”
Erik Palmer-Brown ready to take next step with U.S. national team
March 25, 20185:52PM EDTNeil Morris
CARY, N.C. — It was simply a matter of time for Erik Palmer-Brown.Of the five first-time call-ups into the US national team camp currently training in North Carolina, Palmer-Brown seemed the most inevitable. He’s one of only 12 U.S. players ever named to two FIFA U-20 World Cup rosters. Palmer-Brown earned the Golden Ball award as the best player in the 2017 Concacaf U-20 Championship, and he was the team captain of a U.S. U-20 World Cup squad that advanced to the quarterfinals last June.Palmer-Brown could attain another goal Tuesday: earning his first USMNT cap in a friendly against Paraguay at WakeMed Soccer Park (7 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, UDN). It would be the next step along an accelerating career path for Palmer-Brown, an Ohio native who joined the Sporting Kansas City Academy in June 2009 at age 13. He signed his first professional contract with SKC in 2013 and appeared in 20 regular season MLS games through the end of 2017. He also appeared in a smattering of matches last year for Swope Park Rangers, SKC’s USL affiliate team.Already the subject of intense overseas interest, the 20-year-old Palmer-Brown signed with Manchester City when his MLS contract expired following the 2017 season. He was soon sent on loan to K.V. Kortrijk in the Belgian Pro League in order to eventually meet the criteria for a UK work permit. Palmer-Brown made his debut for Kortrijk earlier this month when he played the full match in a 2-1 loss at Club Brugge.Palmer-Brown, who spent 2016 on loan to FC Porto B, says his full-time move to Europe was always a career aspiration.“It was one of my goals to go overseas,” Palmer-Brown says. “That’s something I wanted to do at a young age, and when I went on loan to Porto I saw how tough it was. It’s a struggle at times, but to grind through those [struggles] you come out a better person and player.”Palmer-Brown says his experience playing in Portugal aided his transition to Belgium.“There’s more English [in Belgium], so it’s been good,” Palmer-Brown says. “I don’t have to adapt — it’s been pretty easy.”Palmer-Brown, more commonly called ‘EPB’ by his club and country teammates, enters a U.S. team not only recovering from its failure to qualify for this year’s FIFA World Cup, but also the unending search for the next great American center back. He believes the stiff competition he faces in Europe will better prepare him to put his stamp on the USMNT.“I’ve been lucky enough to sign with one of the biggest clubs in the world now, and in watching those guys at the club, it’s very demanding,” Palmer-Brown says. “You see the whole field and you have to be able to lead from the back.”In the meantime, Palmer-Brown’s debut U.S. senior team camp carries a distinct youthful air. The average age of the players in the current camp is less than 24. Though it’s his first USMNT call-up, Palmer-Brown’s youth national team accolades and his experience playing with many of his fellow March invitees affords him an unexpected level of comfort and high regard.“EPB has done an unbelievable job so far coming into this camp,” says Tyler Adams, the 19-year-old New York Red Bulls midfielder and Palmer-Brown’s teammate on the 2017 U.S. U-20 World Cup team. “Having him gain minutes now with his Belgium team has been huge in his development. And it shows now with him getting called into [USMNT camp].”“It’s been a good vibe,” Palmer-Brown added. “It’s been easy to mix in because I know a lot of the guys, and I’ve watched the guys I didn’t know coming into the camp. Meeting them has been awesome; they’ve all been very welcoming. For me, it’s been a nice, calm vibe, but also intense training.”a
MLS rivals Alex Bono, Zack Steffen enjoying US national team camp
March 26, 201811:50AM EDTNeil MorrisContributor
CARY, N.C. — Alex Bono and Zack Steffen have faced off six times over the past 12 months as the starting goalkeepers for Toronto FC and Columbus Crew SC, respectively. Still, both instantly, and accurately, recall their first competitive match against each other.“One time in college, when Maryland came up to Syracuse,” Bono said.“My freshman year [at Maryland] in 2013, he was at Syracuse and we went up there,” Steffen said. “I think we beat them 1-0.”Amid their current bevy of MLS bouts, Bono and Steffen are again teammates on the US national team, this time for a March training camp in North Carolina that culminates Tuesday with a friendly against Paraguay (7 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, UDN). It’s the second consecutive USMNT camp for both keepers. In January, Steffen earned his first senior team cap in a friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bono, whose debut senior team call-up came in January 2015, is still looking for his first USMNT cap.“I’m just keeping my head down and working hard,” Bono said. “If it comes, then it’s a blessing and I’ll be honored. If it doesn’t, I’ll continue to come in and work hard until I get my first one.”US national team interim coach Dave Sarachan called three goalkeepers into the March camp. The most “senior” keeper is 27-year-old Bill Hamid, the former D.C. United minder who has five USMNT caps to his credit. Bono and Steffen return as part of an influx of younger players entering the senior team setup in the wake of the U.S. washing out of FIFA World Cup qualifying last October.This is also the second straight USMNT camp without Tim Howard or Brad Guzan, American goalkeeping figureheads for more than a decade. While Steffen has trained on the national team level with both Howard and Guzan, the 23-year-old Bono never has. Interestingly, Bono sees this innocence of youth as a benefit as the national team embarks on its next phase of development.“The beauty of this camp is nobody really has guys to lean on,” Bono said. “We’re kind of creating our own paths here, and that’s something that’s really unique about bringing in guys who are generally inexperienced at the professional and international levels. Bill [Hamid] would be the most experienced among the goalkeepers, but for us to come in and have to be open and competitive day in and day out … is really exciting.”The 22-year-old Steffen is one of only 12 US players ever named to two FIFA Under-20 World Cuprosters. After beginning his professional career with Bundesliga club Freiburg, Steffen signed with MLS in 2016. He’s appeared in 42 MLS games since becoming Crew SC’s starter last year.“The US coaches are definitely watching our [MLS] games,” Steffen said. “They’re evaluating all the players, and that’s how they get their list to bring in. Then they get to see us up-close when we’re in [national team] camp.”Bono, who began his professional career with Toronto FC in 2015, comes to camp amid a busy time for his club, which return to MLS action this Friday against Real Salt Lake. Toronto FC then plays the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League semifinals against Club América next week.“It’s obviously exciting that I get to be here and part of this camp,” Bono said. “But we also have matches coming up in Toronto. It’s about staying fit and sharp, and establishing myself here while realizing that as soon as I get back in Toronto, it’s straight back to business with them.”But first, Bono and Steffen have an international friendly this Tuesday. While Steffen has never played at WakeMed Soccer Park, Bono did once, a loss to Louisville back in the 2014 ACC Men’s Soccer Tournament.“That was my first time here in Cary,” Bono said with a laugh. “I’m hoping my second time will be a little bit more joyful.”