Last night, in what was admittedly a mostly meaningless match even by the standards of international friendlies, the USMNT blew out a Bolivian B-team 4-0 in Philadelphia. Neither country is going to the World Cup. It was hot. The Bolivians seemed overmatched at best, disinterested at worst.

And yet, despite all of this, and despite all the lingering disappointment of the Americans missing out on the trip to Moscow, there were some moments last night that were legitimately a lot of fun! A lot of that comes down to Dave Sarachan, the interim manager with little chance of getting the full-time job when US Soccer gets around to hiring for that position, likely later this summer.

Sarachan’s lineup was full of youth, led by the return of Christian Pulisic, playing his first game for the national team since their devastating loss last fall in Trinidad & Tobago. But while he did some Pulisic things, the most encouraging thing was that he wasn’t clearly the best American on the field. That’s because rather than the aging, MLS-based core that failed to reach the World Cup for the first time in thirty years, the team was filled with players like Schalke’s Weston McKennie, another American teen getting actual minutes on a top German team.

A case could be made that he and Pulisic, both just 19, are the two best American players right now. Pulisic we knew about, of course, but McKennie was a revelation last night as the holding midfielder in Sarachan’s favored 4-1-4-1 formation, roving all over the field, putting out fires, starting attacks, and generally looking like the kind of talent who would be preparing to play a big role this summer had the United States actually qualified. He also looked like the kind of talent that could have been very helpful during qualification. If only he’d played for D.C. United instead of a Champions League team, maybe he’d have had a shot.

But while a few other young players shined (notably a returning Rubio Rubin and a debuting Antonee Robinson, who looks the part of the left back prospect the United States has needed for a very long time) there were two standouts. Tim Weah and Josh Sargent are both 18, both signed to top-level European clubs (PSG and Werder Bremen, respectively), and they both made their first starts for the USMNT last night.

And they looked awesome. Most of the Americans best first-half opportunities came from interplay between the two, and both ended up scoring in the second half. Sargent bagged his goal in, well, unorthodox fashion:

That was a bit fluky, but it was certainly deserved; Sargent had been dangerous the whole night, and is a physical presence despite his age. Weah’s shot was set up thanks to a great run and cross from Everton’s Robinson:

Weah, Pulisic, Sargent, McKennie…it’s a group to dream on. There’s really no need to see the older generation anymore, to be honest, because with this group of players, we’re not really talking about prospects who need time to develop vs. the established vets who are better now. These are players getting top-flight minutes in Europe right now. They’re good now, with the potential to get better. American soccer media struggles with that concept, but this generation might finally prove worthy of any level of hype.

If only they were getting ready to play their first World Cup instead of friendlies against Ireland and France.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.