Josh Sargent, Tyler Adams named in U.S. squad to face Portugal, Pulisic out
Josh Sargent, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams are among five young uncapped players who have been called into the 21-man United States squad that will face Portugal in a friendly in Leiria on Nov. 14.
The roster has a decidedly youthful bent, featuring seven players with fewer than five international appearances, in addition to five uncapped players -- Sargent, 17, Schalke's midfielder McKennie, 19, the New York Red Bulls' Adams, 18, Sheffield United's defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, 19, and FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, 22.
The roster is the first to be named since the United States suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Trinidad & Tobago back on Oct. 10, one that eliminated the Americans from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Since then, manager Bruce Arena has resigned his position, with the U.S. now being led by caretaker head coach Dave Sarachan, Arena's longtime assistant.
"The one word that I would use in reference to all of this is opportunity," Sarachan said in a statement. "It's an opportunity for many players who haven't been in the picture that we feel have a bright future with the national team to get to measure themselves in a game against a quality opponent.
"It's an opportunity for our national team to finish out 2017 in a positive way. It's also just an opportunity to move on. As much as we're still gutted from how things turned out with qualifying, we have to look ahead and finish out the year the right way."
Among the more intriguing call-ups is Sargent, who will join up with Bundesliga side Werder Bremen after he turns 18 in February.
Sargent is the first player in U.S. national team history to play in a Under-17 World Cup, an Under-20 World Cup and be called into a senior national team camp in the same calendar year.
"With this particular roster and the availability of players, it was a great opportunity to bring Josh," said Sarachan. "He's in good form coming off his time with the U17s and is someone who will be able to handle the fitness level we're looking for in this camp. He's obviously impressed at both youth World Cups this year, and so this camp gives us a chance to give a first look to a young player we think will have a bright future in the national team program."
The team does contain some experienced players, especially in defense, with the likes of Wolfsburg center-back John Brooks, Fulham defender Tim Ream, and Newcastle United right-back DeAndre Yedlin all on board.
Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya is the most-capped player on the roster, having made 65 appearances for the U.S., and is one of six players that was part of the team that was eliminated from World Cup qualifying last month.
Conspicuous by his absence is Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic, but Sarachan said he was mindful of Pulisic's workload in 2017, and the decision was made to give him some rest.
"Christian has had a very long year, not only with the national team, but finding his way with Borussia Dortmund," he said. "Between his contributions for the national team and his club, he has probably played more total games than almost anyone in our pool this year, and in doing that, Christian has really pushed the limits mentally and physically.
"With those things in mind, this was an opportunity for Christian to get a break and recharge for the rest of an important campaign with Dortmund."
Another player left home is Monterrey midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez, 18, who has appeared in 14 matches for the Liga MX table-toppers this season. But with the Liga MX playoffs fast approaching, the decision was made to have Gonzalez remain with his club. An appearance in a friendly would not have tied him internationally to the U.S. anyway.
No players from the four teams still alive in the MLS Cup playoffs were named, while injuries also played a part in the roster's construction. D.C. United midfielder Paul Arriola was rendered unavailable after undergoing what was called "a minor procedure" at the end of the MLS season. Hamburg forward Bobby Wood was also left off the roster, the better to heal up from a lingering knee injury.
"Bobby was excited about the opportunity to come into this camp and was on board to be a part of it, but he has had a lingering knee issue that has gotten to the point where it needed to be addressed," said Sarachan. "He was excited to be a part of this last game of 2017, but like with Christian, we felt it was better for Bobby to get a little extra time to rest and recover."
Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will skip the game, as the Americans' opponents announced their squad last week.
The full U.S. squad (club; caps/goals):
Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas; 0/0), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland; 3/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge; 1/0)
Defenders: John Brooks (Wolfsburg; 32/3), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Sheffield United; 0/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest; 13/1), Matt Miazga (Vitesse; 3/1), Tim Ream (Fulham; 26/1), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna; 14/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United; 48/0)
Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 16/1), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 0/0), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 65/2), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland; 2/0), Weston McKennie (Schalke; 0/0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 3/1), Danny Williams (Huddersfield Town; 22/2)
Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 26/3), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City; 3/2), C.J. Sapong (Philadelphia Union; 2/0), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen; 0/0)
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.