It’s been a little over a week where the USMNT was eliminated from World Cup qualifying for the first time since 1986. For many, it caused the end of being interested in whatever US Soccer does for at least another four or five years. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good international teams from the United States.
For one thing, you have the defending World Cup champion US Women’s National Team, while they don’t have a World Cup for another 20 months, just defeated South Korea 3-1 Thursday night and have been 39-4-4 since their World Cup triumph. Despite losing in penalties to Sweden at the Olympic quarterfinal, the USWNT remains tough to beat. They face South Korea again in a friendly this Sunday at 2 PM ET.
But while many knew about the strength of the USWNT, it’s the U-17 USMNT who is surprising people and maybe gives fans hope that the senior team could someday be a contender.
After a 3-0 win over host India and a 1-0 win over Ghana, the “Baby Nats” had already clinched a round of 16 berth and hadn’t allowed a goal. Their final group stage game against Colombia was somewhat of a disaster, losing 3-1. And after a 4-0 Ghana win, Ghana, Colombia and the United States were all tied with six points. Ghana wound up winning the group on goal differential and Colombia took second from the US on the fifth tiebreaker.
After that Colombia game and falling from first to third in a blink of an eye, fans probably thought “Here we go again.” After seeing the senior team lose out after controlling their own destiny, it seemed like the youth team would follow in those footsteps.
The team could have wallowed in their disappointment and let it fester in their round of 16 match against Paraguay. Instead, the Baby Nats took out their frustration in a dismantling 5-0 victory over Paraguay to advance to the quarterfinals against England this Saturday morning at 10:20 AM ET.
It should be noted that the players on this team still have a long way to go before starting at a future World Cup, but there are some great potential superstars.
Newly signed Werder Bremen striker Josh Sargent is the star of the team but other players have stepped up at various times and have really made the United States a team to be reckoned with.
PSG’s Timothy Weah, son of Ballon d’Or winner George, was a goalscoring machine against Paraguay, scoring a hat trick.
Add in Atlanta United’s Andrew Carleton and defenders Chris Durkin (DC United) and Jaylin Lindsey (Sporting KC) among others and this team could compete.
The rest of the tournament isn’t going to be as much of a cakewalk as the results made it seem. England is capable of winning the tournament and if they get past England, they face the winner of Germany/Brazil in the semifinal. And if they make it to the final, they are likely to face favorite Iran.
Can the United States defeat England today and advance to the semis? Sure, they could. Can they go all the way and win the World Cup? I doubt it but anything can happen. Maybe it’s not the point. After a week and a half of dread and uncertainty of the future of US Soccer, a bunch of 17-year-olds are doing something that the adults tried and failed to do and give fans hope that maybe things in US Soccer are someday going to be alright.
[Photo: US Soccer]