The November friendlies conclude for the USMNT against Italy on Tuesday (2:30pm ET - FS1) in the unlikely setting of Genk, Belgium. Italy's decision to play at a neutral site aside, the game is the likely swansong for interim USMNT coach Dave Sarachan. We've heard this before, of course, with US Soccer indicating their permanent hire would be in place by November 1. Instead, it's another window with an obvious problem. Until a permanent coach is in place, it's an open question of what carries over.
From squad selection to tactics, that's been the question since last November. Sarachan didn't simply continue what he'd seen as an assistant under former USMNT coach Bruce Arena. The youth movement started as soon as he took the interim job with last November's trip to Europe. With that in mind, continuity in the squad was always going to be an issue. That's certainly the case with the ability to get Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, and Christian Pulisic in the same starting XI. With McKennie out due to injury, that's not going to be possible against Italy.
Where that leaves the Sarachan era is interesting. As the head coach, he never got the opportunity to put together a best available squad for games that count. Playing friendlies cuts both ways. He doesn't have to work within "must win" scenarios and neither does the opposition. Though tagging all friendlies with the "meaningless" label seems lazy, there's certainly a point to separating games that count. The risk vs reward rises, with personnel and tactical decisions capable of unraveling the work.
So what we have on Tuesday is the potential end of a year-long wait for what comes next for the USMNT. Once again, it should be a transitional moment for a program that's spent a year existing in a state of flux. That's not necessarily a bad thing in a year without points on the line, but progress requires working towards games that count with all involved well aware of the circumstances. That's the Gold Cup and the Nations League in 2019, the delayed start of the next era for the USMNT.
ESPN's Jeff Carlisle relays Steve Cherundolo's comments about the situation with the USMNT and pressure on players in Europe. Atlanta United's Josef Martinez talks about the club in The Players Tribune. MLSsoccer's Charles Boehm has Inter Miami investor/operator Jorge Mas talking about stadiums.
The Daily Mail's Ian Herbert with the media's response after Germany's Nations League relegation. Inside World Football's Andrew Warshaw relays the latest issue with FIFA's proposed $25b deal for the revamped Club World Cup and global Nations League.
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