Viewpoint: The genesis of USA’s golden generation of soccer
As the World Cup begins, the U.S. team is the second youngest in the tournament, with an average age of 25.2.
It has been eight years since the United States Men’s National Team played in a World Cup. The majority of this year's team were playing summer soccer for their local club the last time the Stars and Stripes appeared on the world’s biggest stage in 2014. With only one player returning from the 2014 team, inexperience is something the USMNT is going to have to contend with.
Does experience matter? This is one of the questions the Americans will have to answer with their play. Looking at it negatively, it could mean players won’t have any shared history to pull from in crucial moments. Or, conversely, it could be a positive to be young, naive, and blissfully unaware of the pressure on their collective shoulders.
This American team is the second youngest in the tournament, with an average age of 25.2. As I mentioned before, they only have one player on the roster who was on the team that last appeared in the tournament in 2014; Deandre Yedlin. He isn’t expected to start, but one would assume his leadership and experience are something the coaching staff are going to try to utilize. Whether that is strictly as a mentor to the younger players, or it’s subbing on to protect a one goal lead in the 75th minute in the group stage remains to be seen.
This is the first time the United States has arrived at the World Cup with multiple players featuring for some of the biggest clubs in Europe. Fourteen of the 26 players on the roster are based in Europe; five of whom are playing in the Champions League. Clubs like Juventus (Weston McKennie), Chelsea (Christian Pulisic), AC Milan (Sergiño Dest), and Borussia Dortmund (Gio Reyna.) This is significant, because the stage isn’t as overwhelming if you’re used to playing in top leagues and top competitions week in and week out. This is what gives this USA team a different feel than any in the past.
Cambridge Dictionary defines "Golden Generation" as “a group of skillful soccer, rugby, etc. players of similar ages who achieve success or are expected to achieve success for their country.
Additionally, the core of the team is young and the hope is their best days are in front of them.
This is what the USMNT has now. Of their projected starting 11 players, eight are younger than 25 years old. The 2022 World Cup is the first chance for this group to show the world what they’re capable of, but it won’t be the last. All eight of those sub-25 players are playing abroad, and most of them were heavily sought after by top European clubs. This group of players is unlike any group of players the United States have ever had, and 2022 is just the beginning of their story.
Luke Schulz, of Grand Forks, is the head soccer coach at Grand Forks Central High School.