Walker Zimmerman celebrates his first-half goal. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
OK, so the Bolivian national team wasn’t necessarily the second coming of Brazil. Heck, it was actually the second coming of Bolivia it was such an inexperienced side.
But Monday night’ international friendly was vital for several youngsters on the U.S. national team to get their feet or even take a dive into the deep end of the pool, so they can become regulars in the U.S. team pool.
They acquitted themselves well enough in a 3-0 international friendly victory over Bolivia.
To be fair, the South Americans did not bring their strongest team. Of course, consider the alternative: that the U.S. would have stunk up Talen Energy Stadium against Bolivia’s B team.
Some thoughts on the win:
Youth is served again and again
Dave Sarachan, the interim or caretaker coach of the U.S., started a young team averaging 22 years and 280 days. Entering the match, the USA Starting XI had accumulated 63 caps, total, and 42 of them were split evenly between Christian Pulisic and Joe Corona. Some valuable experience for the kids as the Americans look toward 2022 and beyond. Sarachan probably won’t be around as the boss, but he did the right thing.
The U.S.’s lack of experience on attack was never more apparent in the opening half. The Americans have plenty of opportunities to score multiple times but lacked composure in front of the Bolivian net. It took one of the oldest players on the squad, center back Walker Zimmerman, an “old man” at 25, to show the way to the kids as he headed in a Joe Corona corner kick from the right side from just about the penalty spot in the 37th minute.
First time for everything, Part I
Alex Bono, Erik Palmer-Brown, Antonee Robinson and Josh Sargent made their international debuts. Eight players were 24 or younger. That included Bono (24); Rubio Rubin (22), Palmer-Brown (21), Robinson (20), Weston McKennie, Pulisic (19), Sargent and Tim Weah (18). Sargent and Weah became the first players born in the 2000’s to start for the USA. Heck, there were so many firsts, I probably missed a few others.
First time for everything, Part II
Three players tallied their first international goal. In chronological order:
Zimmerman’s goal (see above).
Sargent, the scoring hero of the U.S. in the FIFA Under-17 and U-20 World Cups last summer, intercepted a horrible pass from Bolivian goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra, firing a shot that deflected off the halftime substitute and into the net in the 52nd minute. He became the second youngest player in U.S. men’s history to score in his international debut, second only to former Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo and current New England Revolution Juan Agudelo.
And seven minutes later, Weah joined the celebration by connecting for his first international goal. Robinson, the left back, set up the former B.W. Gottschee standout perfectly slotting the ball to Weah, who had a relatively easy tap-in for a 3-0 advantage (Weah was dynamic; I want to see more of him). Two minutes later, Weah received a nice ovation from the crowd as he was replaced by Julian Green. Yes, that Julian Green. Yes, it has been four years since Green scored for the U.S. in his first touch in the World Cup in that 2-1 loss to Belgium in the Round of 16 at Brazil 2014. Man, how time flies.
Pulisic didn’t have to dominate the USA attack, but then again, he didn’t have to. Just wonder the last time Pulisic did not record a goal or an assist in a U.S. win in which the Americans scored three goals. It is a rarity. After a long season with Borussia Dortmund, he’ll get some much-needed rest and relaxation to recharge his batteries for when the Bundesliga season kicks off again in August. Would love to see him play in the Ireland and France friendlies next month, but I wouldn’t blame Sarachan if he gave his star the time off. Besides, he will be needed in much more important games, such as World Cup qualifying for Qatar 2022, which could commence as early as 2019.
USA – Walker Zimmerman (Joe Corona) 37th minute
USA – Josh Sargent 52
USA – Tim Weah (Antonee Robinson) 59
USA: 22-Alex Bono; 4-Walker Zimmerman, 6-Weston McKennie, 8-Joe Corona (25-Keaton Parks, 62), 10-Christian Pulisic (19-Jorge Villafaña, 89), 11-Tim Weah (16-Julian Green, 61), 13-Josh Sargent (9-Andrija Novakovich, 61), 14-Erik Palmer-Brown, 15-Eric Lichaj (capt.) (2-Matt Olosunde, 74), 17-Antonee Robinson, 23-Rubio Rubin (20-Lyden Gooch, 73)
Subs: 1-Bill Hamid, 3-Matt Miazga, 5-Cameron Carter-Vickers
Head coach: Dave Sarachan
BOL: 23-Guillermo Vizcarra (1-Carlos Lampe, 46); 2-Carlos Añez, 3-Oscar Baldomar (22-Jose Sagredo, 32), 4-Luis Haquin, 6-Danny Bejarano. (8-Leandro Maygua, 79), 7-Luis Ali, 10-Fernando Saucedo, 16-Ronald Raldes (capt.), 17-Alexis Ribera (13-Rodrigo Rodriguez, 79), 18-Rodrigo Vargas (11-Bruno Miranda, 63), 20-Hector Ronaldo Sanchez (9-Leonardo Vaca, 66)
Subs: 5-Gustavo Olguin, 11-Bruno Miranda, 12-Jaime Cornejo, 14-Edson Perez, 15-Jose Vargas, 16-Julian Green, 19-Wilfredo Soleto, 21-Miguel Quiroga, 24-Rodrigo Borda, 25-Sergio Moruno
Head coach: César Farías
Stats Summary: USA / BOL
Shots: 22 / 4
Shots on Goal: 6 / 0
Saves: 0 / 3
Corner Kicks: 12 / 5
Fouls: 20 / 6
Offside: 2 / 1
BOL – Fernando Salcedo (caution) 49th minute
USA – Joe Corona (caution) 57
USA – Weston McKennie (caution) 65
Referee: Oshane Nation (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Joseph Bertrand (TRI)
Assistant Referee 2: Nicholas Anderson (JAM)
4th Official: Daneon Parchment (JAM)
Man of the Match: Walker Zimmerman