Time to see what the talented youngsters can do.
The U.S. men are sending their second-youngest team to the World Cup in Qatar, with three teenagers – Gio Reyna, Yunus Musah and Joe Scally – and six others 23 or younger on the 26-man roster announced Wednesday. Only the 1990 squad, the first U.S. team to play in a World Cup after a 40-year absence, was younger than the 25 years and 175 days the Americans will be when they open against Wales on Nov. 21.
After the Wales game, the USMNT plays England on Nov. 25 and Iran on Nov. 29 in Group B. The knockout rounds begin Dec. 3.
Though DeAndre Yedlin is the only player left over from 2014, this is no wide-eyed group just happy to be getting on the plane for their first World Cup. Fourteen of the 26 play at top-tier clubs in England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France, and five are playing in the Champions League this year.
Only five of the 26 did not appear in World Cup qualifiers, and two of those are goalkeepers Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson. A third is 19-year-old Joe Scally, who only made his USMNT debut in June.
“I know everybody is young, but they’ve been in huge games,” Brenden Aaronson, who moved to Leeds United in the English Premier League over the summer after 1½ seasons in Salzburg, said earlier this year.
“They’ve been through things like this.”
One of the biggest challenges the USMNT will face is cohesion. This is a tight-knit group, bonded by both their early opportunities and talent and the expectations to revive American soccer.
But injuries have kept coach Gregg Berhalter’s best players from being on the field at the same time. Reyna, Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest and Tim Weah, all projected starters, have missed significant stretches in the last 18 months. Christian Pulisic’s sporadic playing time at Chelsea affected his minutes with the USMNT.
How they blend together when everyone is healthy will go a long way in determining how far the USMNT can go in Qatar.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USMNT World Cup roster: Time to see what next generation can do