The Future of the USMNT


Jillian Shapiro '24, Staff Writer

The United States Men’s National soccer team has been seen as the embodiment of the failures of Men’s soccer by many Americans. Failing to qualify for both the 2018 Fifa World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics helped bring to light the major issues with the Men’s National Team. The most significant issue that was cemented during this time was the lack of players playing in higher-level leagues in European countries. The MLS, while still a high-level soccer league, does not compare with leagues such as the Premier League in England and La Liga in Spain. The lack of higher-quality competition on a regular basis for most of the American players reflected in their poor performances on the international level.


Following  these issues in Men’s soccer in America, there has been a steady increase in the development and quality of players which can be seen by the dramatic increase in Americans being recruited and transferred to teams in Europe.  The USMNT hosted a two-week camp in Wiener Neustadt, Austria during the March break in club play.  The vast majority of the 26 player roster that was named on March 17, 2021, for the two-week period of international play, were young players who compete on teams based in Europe.


The team played their first friendly match against Jamaica on March 25. The Americans defeated the carribean nation with a score of 4 to 1.  Three days later they played another friendly match against Northern Ireland. They were victorious again, winning with a score of 2 goals to 1. The strong performances displayed by many key players such as Barcelona’s Serginñio Dest and Christian Pulisic from Chelsea show the bright path the USMNT is starting down. 


Christian Pulisic, a MNT featured player since the age of seventeen, has continued to proudly represent the United States by playing for the Premier League side Chelsea. While he struggled to establish himself as a starter under their new coach Thomas Tuchel, his performances have started to reflect his talent, scoring 3 goals in his last 2 starts. Last year, after the league restart because of the postponement of their season due to COVID-19, Pulisic helped lead Chelsea to secure their place in European competition and a fourth-place finish in the Premier League.  


In Chelsea’s draw in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 progressions, they defeated Atlético Madrid 3 goals to none on aggregate, earning them a spot in the quarterfinals against Portuguese team Porto. In the second game in their draw, which took place on March 17, Pulisic came on as a sub and instantly impacted the game. He brought the high level of intensity he is known for and bagged an assist, helping to secure their victory and progress further in the competition. His recent performances heavily reflect the skills and speed he brings on the pitch and everything he can do for the United States. 


Sergiño Dest is another exciting player who featured at the March camp from FC Barcelona. While only at the age of 20, he has established himself as a regular starter alongside world-class players such as Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann. While lacking in experience with the United States, he makes up for it with his skills both on and off the ball. On March 21, in Barcelona’s game against Real Sociedad, he scored his first 2 goals for the team and helped bring them to a 6 goal to 1 victory. His performances are constantly showing his skill both defensively and going forward which will be a massive asset to the United States.  


Another young player who was named to the roster is Medford, New Jersey Native  Brenden Aaronson. He made his way through the Philadelphia Union Youth Academy teams and played professionally for their MLS team. He was named to the MLS Best XI in 2020 and  in January 2021 he secured a transfer to the Austrian team Red Bull Salzburg. In twelve appearances he has already scored 2 goals and made 3 assists, frequently featuring in his favored role as an attacking midfielder and a winger.