USMNT: Hold My Beer

Titans Bastard

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Big news! CONCACAF released the qualifying format. I like it, which surprises me.


First Round
October & November windows

CONCACAF #6-#35 play a single round-robin in six groups of five. Six group winners move on.

Second Round
March 2021 window

Six group winners from the previous round will be drawn into a home-and-away with each other. Three winners move on.

Final Round

Three group winners join Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Honduras to form a group of eight (people are saying the Ocho to replace the Hex. I think we need the OCTOPUS.)

Anyway: seven home games and seven away games.

June 2021 [four games in this window instead of the regular two]
September 2021
October 2021
November 2021
January 2022 [there isn't normally a window in January but I guess FIFA might switch things around due to the pandemic]
March 2022

Top three qualify. #4 goes to a playoff in June 2022.


CONCACAF Nations League
Semifinals, Final, and 3rd place to be played in March 2021.

The next version will begin in June 2022.

CONCACAF Gold Cup
July 10-August 1, 2021

CONCACAF still needs to figure out the qualification, but that doesn't affect the US.


EDIT: typo
 
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Titans Bastard

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What this means for the USMNT schedule is that, assuming we can kick back into action in October, Berhalter will get six more friendlies/Nations League games plus January Camp (I think?) before WCQ begins. This is more time than I expected.

The schedule:

October 2020: friendlies x2
November 2020: friendlies x2
March 2021: CONCACAF Nations League SF + F/3rd place
June 2021: WCQ x4
July 2021: Gold Cup
September 2021: WCQ x2
October 2021: WCQ x2
November 2021: WCQ x2
January 2022: WCQ x2
March 2022: WCQ x2
May 2022: CONCACAF Nations League [these three Nations League windows will incorporate four competitive games and two friendlies]
June 2022: CONCACAF Nations League
Sep 2022: CONCACAF Nations League
Nov/Dec 2022: World Cup


I really like that the US will get a nice big WCQ group that will involve lots of away matches against better CONCACAF teams and won't come down to an abbreviated knockout tree where a small sample size fluke could kill us.
 

DJnVa

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Big news! CONCACAF released the qualifying format. I like it, which surprises me.


First Round
October & November windows

CONCACAF #6-#35 play a single round-robin in six groups of four.
Type here--it's six groups of 5.
 

Domer

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With the extra five months in the 2022 cycle, it makes sense to abandon the hex format to accommodate the extra four matchdays in the final stage.

This is really the best of both worlds for USA/Mexico. They don’t have to face an two-leg elimination match like 2018, plus all 3.5 spots will be at stake in the final stage, instead of 3.0 in the previous plan.
 

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I need to think about it a little more and decide whether I'm just not liking the change or whether I really don't like the new system.

I really loved the hexagonal. I didn't love it last year where they played the first match day three months early, but traditionally, 10 games, 8 months, every game matters. In some senses it was my favorite sports competition in the world. Even better than the world cup. Every goal and yellow card mattered. I've been to games in the Hexagonal every cycle for the last 20 years or so and it really felt like every minute mattered. This seems to bring in more margin for error and to extend it out to more of a war of attrition.

I also very much hate having two months between the second last two matchdays and the final last two matchdays. I thought the 4-week period between matchday 8 and matchday 9 in the hexagonal format was perfect. Usually you went into that period with everything still on the table and all the scenarios in place, and it went by quickly. Now you're going to have probably two and maybe even three teams already qualified, probably less at stake, and two months to wait.
 

tmracht

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I think if they had gone to an Octo instead of the Hex outside the scope of COVID and Qatar I would have hated it. But with all the confusion and uncertainty in the current climate I think giving teams a game or two wiggle room is probably best for all involved. Who knows who will be unavailable due to COVID even next year.
 

Titans Bastard

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CONCACAF has already drawn which group winners will play each other in the second round for the final three spots in the Ocho/Octo/Octagon/Octapus.

There could always be a surprise, but if the seeded teams prevail, these are the matchups:

El Salvador vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Canada vs. Haiti
Curaçao vs. Panama

I am not particularly up-to-date on which CONCACAF minnows would have the best chance at taking a run at one of the mid-tier countries listed above. Guatemala? Sometimes the Caribbean nations with Commonwealth heritage can recruit some solid EFL professionals, but I'm guessing that will be more difficult in the COVID era. Cuba would be better if they didn't lose half their youth team to defections every time they go to a tournament. Suriname would be surprisingly good if they didn't have stingy dual citizenship laws that prevent them from recruiting Dutch players of Surinamese descent or Surinamese immigrants to the Netherlands.

Anyway, Canada vs. Haiti could be a fun grudge match after Haiti's upset of Canada in the Gold Cup quarterfinals last year.
 

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On the one hand, we've gone from [edit: 16] qualification games to... 14 qualification games.

On the other hand, I feel like this will dilute the quality of the games in the final round, and lead to some final games being meaningless (when, if you'll remember the final games last time around, it was anything but - for all involved. Even T&T :mad: )

On the third hand, Panama gets fucked by this, so it ain't ALL bad.
 
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Titans Bastard

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On the one hand, we've gone from 14 qualification games to... 14 qualification games.

On the other hand, I feel like this will dilute the quality of the games in the final round, and lead to some final games being meaningless (when, if you'll remember the final games last time around, it was anything but - for all involved. Even T&T :mad: )

On the third hand, Panama gets fucked by this, so it ain't ALL bad.
There will be a few more easy games in the final round, but on the other hand we won't have any games at all against teams like St. Vincent & the Grenadines, who we played twice in the semifinal round last time.
 

Titans Bastard

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View: https://twitter.com/BrianSciaretta/status/1288146544835911681



Olympic qualifiers will overlap with the CONCACAF Nations League qualifiers, which will give Berhalter & Kreis something to figure out. Our top Euro-based U23s likely won't be released for a youth event. However, the staff will have to decide what to do with players like Jackson Yueill and Reggie Cannon (though I'd bet Cannon will be in Europe by then).
 

Domer

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Not sure why Sciaretta is "hearing" that. The Confederations’ allocations were already approved by the FIFA Council years ago. Who is saying Concacaf will definitely have eight? Whether all three host countries will qualify is still up in the air, but that will likely be granted.


In other 2026 news, Gillette Stadium presented its bid to FIFA today.

View: https://twitter.com/gillettestadium/status/1288218938720030721
 

Titans Bastard

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Rob Stone tweeted/reported that CONCACAF would get eight slots, which made the rounds and caused a bit of a stir, because he didn't mention anything about playoff slots. Sciaretta was basically tweeting in response to that.

(I guess everyone forgot about the FIFA document you linked.)
 

Titans Bastard

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Greg Velasquez (good Twitter follow) took a crack at projecting four rosters for the summer of 2021: The U20 WC in May/June, the four WCQ in June, the Gold Cup in July, and the Olympics (U23) in July/August. Note: we have not qualified for the Olympics or U20 WC yet.

I think there'd be more than zero overlap between the WCQ squad and the Gold Cup, which could bump some U23s to the Olympic team and strengthen that squad.

What's clear is that if we qualify for all these tournaments it will be a huge headache to balance all of these teams, particularly because so much of our full NT will be U23-eligible.

View: https://twitter.com/away_goals/status/1293251237983510528


WCQ:



Gold Cup:



Olympics:



U20 WC:

 

Jed Zeppelin

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With all of these happening around the same time and the need to balance various rosters, am I wrong in thinking this should open the door for us to cap-tie as many dual-citizen players as we can?
 

Titans Bastard

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With all of these happening around the same time and the need to balance various rosters, am I wrong in thinking this should open the door for us to cap-tie as many dual-citizen players as we can?
By definition it will open up more slots and therefore it's likely that more dual nationals will play in competitive games, but I'm opposed to cap-tying dual nationals just to cap-tie them. I think it comes back to bite you in multiple ways. First, when you are choosing players based on their NT options rather than their current abilities, the lack of merit-based selection is a recipe for serious locker room problems. Second, recruiting dual nationals should be based on honest communication and cap-tying them in a predatory way and then dumping them for a while (or forever) sends a bad message to the next wave of dual nationals you are trying to recruit.

For example, it's likely that Mexico overpromised Jonathan Gonzalez in order to get him to file a one-time switch and that's something the USSF can point to for the next big Mexico-US recruiting battle.

The good news is that Berhalter has apparently spent the break speaking to every young player under the sun (dual national or otherwise) which I think is good. It costs nothing to communicate honestly and clearly, and make young players feel valued because they know you are watching them.
 

coremiller

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What are the odds all four competitions are played as scheduled? Would the U20 or the Gold Cup get bumped? In theory the world calendar will also include the rescheduled Euros and Copa America next summer plus WC qualifying for everyone, so it's not just Concacaf who will get jammed.
 

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I still want us to put some of our best talent into Olympics qualifying. Perusing this article, it says the qualifying has been rescheduled to March 2021:


I get that you don't ask your Euro-based absolute-best players to play the Gold Cup, unless they beg to. But I think the Olympics would be different, a consolation prize for missing WC 2018. The U23 team we could field would be spectacular. Would it be the absolute-best level of competition they could undertake to improve? No, but it'll be a career highlight they'll always remember, and this will be their one chance to do it.

Velasquez should put together a lineup he'd recommend if Jason Kreis would be summarily executed if he failed to qualify for the Olympics. I think it basically looks like the Ocho lineup above, except:

- Sub Sargent for Altidore (unless Altidore is one of your three overagers)
- Dest at LB for Robinson (unless he's one of your overagers), put Cannon (is he eligible?) or similar in at RB
- CBs are Mark McKenzie, and... I think CCV is eligible but EPB is not.
- I think you have to keep Steffen as an overager (or, gulp, Guzan), the drop-off to Horvath is just too steep

The fact that Pulisic, Sargent, Reyna, McKennie, Adams, Dest, Llanez, etc are all Olympics-eligible is friggen incredible. I have to imagine that compares pretty favorably even if it doesn't quite measure up to the UEFA countries' rosters, but they'd have a shot at a medal. And then you've got a long list of "maybe they're eligibles" from 97-98: Glad (CB), Lewis (FW), Cannon (RB), Yueill (DM), EPB (CB). I assume no announcement has been made about a change to the birthdate cutoff for roster eligibility. I'd guess they'd roll it back a year, but they also might not.

We'd have to see what the schedule would look like before knowing if there's a prayer for getting the top guys released by clubs, but man it'd be fun if they did. Maybe you don't need all of them to beat Honduras and qualify, but a few would really help.
 

Titans Bastard

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Robinson, CCV, and EPB are 97s. Cannon is a 98. All are Olympic eligible, as I believe that the IOC did not change the eligibility guidelines despite the one year delay. Our best-case U23 pool is so good that I'd only take a GK as an overager. I think GK is a real weak spot in the U23 age bracket: there's nobody who's a starter or who has been a starter. (Even Horvath, who I agree can't yet be fully trusted, is basically the same age as Steffen and is an overager.)

The problem is that clubs have no obligation to release players for youth tournaments. Some Euro clubs will say no, especially for the big-name guys who might spent June playing in four WCQ and July playing in the Gold Cup. Some MLS clubs will say no: for example, if SJ loses Yueill for June and July, are they going to give him away in August too?

These proposed rosters have zero overlap, which I don't think will be the case, but I do think that the USSF will have to do a LOT of negotiating with clubs to mix and match players with tournaments.
 

OCST

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I need to think about it a little more and decide whether I'm just not liking the change or whether I really don't like the new system.

I really loved the hexagonal. I didn't love it last year where they played the first match day three months early, but traditionally, 10 games, 8 months, every game matters. In some senses it was my favorite sports competition in the world. Even better than the world cup. Every goal and yellow card mattered. I've been to games in the Hexagonal every cycle for the last 20 years or so and it really felt like every minute mattered. This seems to bring in more margin for error and to extend it out to more of a war of attrition.

I also very much hate having two months between the second last two matchdays and the final last two matchdays. I thought the 4-week period between matchday 8 and matchday 9 in the hexagonal format was perfect. Usually you went into that period with everything still on the table and all the scenarios in place, and it went by quickly. Now you're going to have probably two and maybe even three teams already qualified, probably less at stake, and two months to wait.
I loved the Hex too. As much as I hate the shithousery away to Honduras etc., these games were appointment viewing (when they could be seen, thanks beIN). "every goal and yellow card mattered."- yep.

There's no way that CONCACAF deserve 6-8 spots in a WC, I don't care how big you make the field.
 

Quintanariffic

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These proposed rosters have zero overlap, which I don't think will be the case, but I do think that the USSF will have to do a LOT of negotiating with clubs to mix and match players with tournaments.
In retrospect, the McBride GM hiring may really pay off in the next 18 months given the stated focus on relationship building with foreign clubs. The USSF would not have been equipped to manage that even 6-12 months ago. I am increasingly confident they are going to get this right, among other things.
 

Titans Bastard

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CONCACAF First Round groups. Seeded teams listed first.

Group A
El Salvador
Antigua and Barbuda
Grenada
Montserrat
US Virgin Islands

Group B
Canada
Suriname
Bermuda
Cayman Islands
Aruba

Group C
Curaçao
Guatemala
St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Cuba
British Virgin Islands

Group D
Panama
Dominican Republic
Barbados
Dominica
Anguilla

Group E
Haiti
Nicaragua
Belize
St. Lucia
Turks & Caicos Islands

Group F
Trinidad & Tobago
St. Kitts & Nevis
Guyana
Puerto Rico
Bahamas



These groups will be decided by a single round-robin played this October + November...somehow. I'm not sure how to schedule five-team groups playing four games across two FIFA windows.

Then in March we have:

El Salvador? vs. T&T?
Canada? vs. Haiti?
Curaçao? vs. Panama?

or whoever wins those groups.
 

Titans Bastard

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And the USMNT schedule for the OCTOGON/OCTAPUS/OCHO has been released:

June 2021 mega-window
@ Group A/F winner (El Salvador/T&T?)
v. Group B/E winner (Canada/Haiti?)
@ Honduras
v. Jamaica

September 2021
@ Group C/D winner (Curaçao/Panama?)
v. Costa Rica

October 2021
v. Mexico
@ Jamaica

November 2021
v. Group A/F winner (El Salvador/T&T?)
@ Group B/E winner (Canada/Haiti?)

January 2022
v. Honduras
@ Mexico

March 2022
v. Group C/D winner (Curaçao/Panama?)
@ Costa Rica


Please don't screw this up and make us watch an agonizing road game in Costa Rica to end the Ocho. Thx.


EDIT: fixed January
 
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Domer

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I think you have those January fixtures in the wrong stadium, but it would have been nice to host El Tri in January. Considering the fall Midwest mild weather, I think the home Mexico match has outgrown Mapfre Stadium.
 

tmracht

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Yes hopefully it's all wrapped up well before at Costa Rica, I don't think my heart could handle that again.
 

dirtynine

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If the temperature isn’t a factor, I wonder where they might play Mexico. The huge payday (Rose Bowl, etc) must be tempting for the USSF after no big matches for basically 3 years. Mexican fans will show anywhere, so without weather there’s less to be made of the location aside from symbolism. Maybe MetLife?
 

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If the temperature isn’t a factor, I wonder where they might play Mexico. The huge payday (Rose Bowl, etc) must be tempting for the USSF after no big matches for basically 3 years. Mexican fans will show anywhere, so without weather there’s less to be made of the location aside from symbolism. Maybe MetLife?
Bring them to Chicago. Sell out Soldier Field & hope for an early cold front to freeze the fuckers.
 

Titans Bastard

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If the temperature isn’t a factor, I wonder where they might play Mexico. The huge payday (Rose Bowl, etc) must be tempting for the USSF after no big matches for basically 3 years. Mexican fans will show anywhere, so without weather there’s less to be made of the location aside from symbolism. Maybe MetLife?
Bring them to Chicago. Sell out Soldier Field & hope for an early cold front to freeze the fuckers.
The USMNT hasn't played a home WCQ on Field Turf in a very long time, which probably rules out a number of NFL stadia. They have put down temporary sod a few times in the last four WCQ cycles, but that always makes for a crappy, uneven surface. The edges between the sod pieces are also scary. I'd lose my mind if I were Chelsea, having paid so much for Pulisic.

Relatedly, the last time Gillette hosted a WCQ was 2005, one year before they ripped out the grass.

The choice of stadium for the Mexico game is very interesting. I tend to think they won't go the cash grab route (sorry for your Chicago dreams, @67YAZ) given that there will be ample opportunity to do that just months earlier in the Gold Cup.

But it does seem like time to move on from Mapfre. After all, the Columbus Crew themselves will have moved on from Mapfre by October 2021. How about Providence Park? You know Timbers fans will come out for the NT, and the max capacity is 25k so maybe that limits the numbers advantage El Tri would have in a larger stadium depending on how the tickets are sold.


All that being said, this underscores how much work the USSF and MLS needs to do to engage with the Hispanic communities in the US. It's not a great look when we're playing "where's the whitest place we can host a game?" every time we play Mexico.
 

Section30

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Nah, not Providence Park. They will still have rioting going on.

I'd head down to the Rose Bowl if they held it there. -from Oregon that is.
 

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The USMNT hasn't played a home WCQ on Field Turf in a very long time, which probably rules out a number of NFL stadia. They have put down temporary sod a few times in the last four WCQ cycles, but that always makes for a crappy, uneven surface. The edges between the sod pieces are also scary. I'd lose my mind if I were Chelsea, having paid so much for Pulisic.

Relatedly, the last time Gillette hosted a WCQ was 2005, one year before they ripped out the grass.

The choice of stadium for the Mexico game is very interesting. I tend to think they won't go the cash grab route (sorry for your Chicago dreams, @67YAZ) given that there will be ample opportunity to do that just months earlier in the Gold Cup.

But it does seem like time to move on from Mapfre. After all, the Columbus Crew themselves will have moved on from Mapfre by October 2021. How about Providence Park? You know Timbers fans will come out for the NT, and the max capacity is 25k so maybe that limits the numbers advantage El Tri would have in a larger stadium depending on how the tickets are sold.


All that being said, this underscores how much work the USSF and MLS needs to do to engage with the Hispanic communities in the US. It's not a great look when we're playing "where's the whitest place we can host a game?" every time we play Mexico.
Doesn't Providence Park also use field turf? Can't imagine that any advantages of going there for a WCQ would be outweighed by the poor playing surface that would result.
 

Titans Bastard

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Doesn't Providence Park also use field turf? Can't imagine that any advantages of going there for a WCQ would be outweighed by the poor playing surface that would result.
Welp. Throw that idea in the trash.

For some reason I thought they switched.
 

Quintanariffic

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Welp. Throw that idea in the trash.

For some reason I thought they switched.
Paulson has stated that he very much wants to, but I think there's a stream or something under the stadium that makes it a more expensive proposition that it otherwise might be. Plus they share the field with the Portland St. football team, so there's a wear and tear issue as well.
 

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But it does seem like time to move on from Mapfre. After all, the Columbus Crew themselves will have moved on from Mapfre by October 2021. How about Providence Park? You know Timbers fans will come out for the NT, and the max capacity is 25k so maybe that limits the numbers advantage El Tri would have in a larger stadium depending on how the tickets are sold.


All that being said, this underscores how much work the USSF and MLS needs to do to engage with the Hispanic communities in the US. It's not a great look when we're playing "where's the whitest place we can host a game?" every time we play Mexico.

I agree that we need to get away from "where can we play were not that many Mexican Americans live", but I think we need to stick with "where can we play El Tri were it will be pretty damn cold" in October. With that in mind, and since you threw out Portland, why not ask the Seahawks / Sounders if they will put temporary grass in Century Link like they did in 2013?
 

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Hiddink says: "It may not be obvious, but it was difficult to say 'no'. Curaçao has made good steps in recent years and I would like to help the players and staff to get one step higher in the international ladder. " I speak Dutch already, and the weather here is sweet. Have you seen the f'ing beaches? I get paid to do this? Really?
Well-known players who can play for Curaçao are Juninho Bacuna (Huddersfield Town), Leandro Bacuna (Cardiff City), Jeremy Cijntje (Heracles Almelo), Rangelo Janga (FC Lugano), Shermar Martina (MVV Maastricht), Eloy Room (Columbus Crew) and Elson Hay.
Reading this makes me feel a lot better about the US's player pool, population differences notwithstanding.
 

Titans Bastard

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We can cross Paxton Pomykal off the list of players who might break through with the USMNT this fall:



His injury history is a major concern. Hopefully this surgery can put his problems to rest, but that's wishcasting. We'll see.
 

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We can cross Paxton Pomykal off the list of players who might break through with the USMNT this fall:



His injury history is a major concern. Hopefully this surgery can put his problems to rest, but that's wishcasting. We'll see.
It stinks for sure. But I find myself strangely comforted by the fact that, whereas an injury to a prospect of his caliber would typically be cause for wailing and gnashing of teeth among the USMNT faithful, I am not at all concerned about finding equal/better central midfield options given the current depth/quality of the talent pool.
 

Titans Bastard

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From Brian Straus, new developments with the WCQ process. The format hasn't changed, but everything is getting pushed back because too many teams/countries in the preliminary round aren't ready to begin in March. That means the preliminary round won't be finished until June, with the final pre-Octo playoffs for the final three slots happening as part of the extended June window.

That means the USMNT wouldn't begin WCQ until the September 2021 window and the Octagonal would run, presumably, until June 2022.

This does give the USMNT more time with friendlies in June, and it changes some of the roster-selection dynamics for the Gold Cup and the Olympics.

It sounds increasingly likely that the USMNT will not be able to schedule friendlies in October, which is a bummer.

 

Titans Bastard

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This quote from Nagelsmann:


“It didn’t work out at all in training on Friday, but it did in the game," said Nagelsmann afterwards. "We wanted to open up some new spaces in our build-up play. Tyler played like a quarterback. It gives us new opportunities for the future.”
What's that you say? Quarterback?

Yueill isn't a bad player, but it just doesn't make any sense to start him when you have an Adams/McKennie/Reyna trio. (Even if Reyna were unavailable or on the wing, I like the balance of an Adams/McKennie/Lletget midfield better anyway.)

If Gregg gets comfortable with Adams sitting deep, then he doesn't even have to abandon his tactical approach. But if he's not comfortable with Adams in the "Yueill role", then he should simply abandon it and switch to a more standard 4-2-3-1.
 

wonderland

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Yeah, "Tanner Tessmann" as strong Football Manager Regen Energy. He was recruited to kick at Clemson because, as mentioned by @wonderland he's Dabo Swinney's godson, he's athletic, and apparently he was really good for someone with no formal background.. However, he never even kicked in HS football or anything. Ultimately, he chose to sign with FC Dallas this spring and never matriculated.
Any reports on Tessman? I see he’s been getting minutes for Dallas.

Watching his highlight video (I know I know) and knowing he’s pretty light on experience, he seems like a guy who in two could be a player.
 

Titans Bastard

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Any reports on Tessman? I see he’s been getting minutes for Dallas.

Watching his highlight video (I know I know) and knowing he’s pretty light on experience, he seems like a guy who in two could be a player.
FC Dallas has a weird roster construction right now because they signed cover for certain positions on the assumption that they'd be losing guys for various NT competitions (Euros, WCQ, Olympics, etc.) that aren't happening this year because of the pandemic. But there's still a decent amount of playing time to go around with injuries and squad rotation: teams are playing a lot of midweek games.

Right now Tessmann is mostly competing with Bryan Acosta and Brandon Servania for minutes at the #8. Servania was injured, and then Acosta got injured roughly when Servania got back, so Tessmann has had opportunities. Servania hasn't been in great form, so Tessmann is playing ahead of him right now and doing well.

He's an interesting player. He's unusually big and strong, but he doesn't necessarily play as physically as you'd expect. He has a background as more of a #10 as a youth player. He's not going to play that position as a pro, but the big question is whether he'll ultimately drift back to be a true DM — if he develops a knack for quick defensive reads and gets more comfortable bringing his size and strength to bear defensively. His passing ability + defensive potential make that an intriguing possibility. But he's a good prospect whether he winds up as a 6 or an 8.

For now, I'd expect him to play a big role with the U20s and see how it goes afterward. I think he and Servania are good enough that I'd hope FC Dallas will try to move Acosta this winter and reinvest those resources in another part of the squad where there isn't a starter-ready youngster.
 

Titans Bastard

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This would be such a joyously golden era for the MNT already if it weren't for the facts that:

- much of the young talent we're counting on hasn't played together,
- they will shortly be going up against CONCACAF NTs that have played together for years and years,
- the opportunities to play together between now and when they will need to play for real stakes are diminishing rapidly, and
- our manager is not regarded as any sort of brilliant tactical mind and got his job through nepotism

I guess the game right now is to just survive and somehow qualify for 2022, Hex (Ocho?) be damned, and however that goes, view 2026 as the time when the world will witness the power of this fully operational battle station.
(quoted from the Americans abroad thread)


I'm a little more optimistic. I think it's normal and understandable to be cautious about the upcoming campaign, but it's worth taking a step back and acknowledging that the USMNT came very close to qualifying in 2018 despite significant headwinds.

1) The current team hasn't had and won't have had that much time together, but the talent base is already higher. Plus, it's a group that is young and hungry and not old and tired, which I think is a difference that can make itself felt in the international game. The lack of experience playing together and in the road environment in WCQ is a negative, but the team will learn as it goes. Additionally, the recent changes to the schedule mean that the team will have a few friendlies, plus CONCACAF Nations League, plus the Gold Cup to prepare before WCQ begins.

2) The last team suffered from poor management. Arena was past his prime and before him, Klinsmann is up there with Steve Sampson as worst USMNT manager of the modern era. The team literally did not have a tactical plan for the entirety of Klinsmann's tenure. Like...players were routinely just sent out on the field with no tactical instruction. There is nowhere to go but up in this department off of that kind of baseline. I think the jury is out on Berhalter, and I wouldn't call him a tactical genius by any stretch, but I think he's more engaged with the tactical details than any NT manager we've had. For me, the question is whether he gets fixated on certain tactical quirks or tries things that can work for clubs but are too complicated to execute in the NT setting.

3) I wouldn't be surprised if CONCACAF as a whole takes a mild step back. Costa Rica's golden generation is past its prime and will soon exit the NT entirely. I'm not sure they'll be as good as they've been over the last decade. How will Honduras be? I'm not convinced. Canada will definitely be better, but their talent pool at GK and DF is very weak relative to their good attackers.
 

Titans Bastard

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This short gif is dedicated to @wonderland.

View: https://twitter.com/GarrettMelcer/status/1307428083939577858


There still hasn't been much reason to argue that Dallas' Honduran DP central midfielder Bryan Acosta should play ahead of Tessmann. Admittedly, Acosta has not lived up to DP expectations, but it's always good when 18 year olds are pushing experienced veterans in the prime of their career aside.



One fun dynamic is that we've gone from overhyping our best prospects to arguably underhyping them. For example, a lot of people thought Chelsea would be a bridge too far for Pulisic, very few expected McKennie to be in demand by a Juventus-level club, and as a U17 NTer people thought Reyna was the best prospect on the team but on a lower & slower career trajectory than what has actually happened.

The downstream effect of this is that there are also sorts of pretty solid but not god-level prospects who are percolating through the system in MLS and abroad who really aren't getting that much hype. Many of them will plateau at a respectable-but-not-top-5-league level and some will flame out as second-tier prospects often do, but when you have so many irons in the fire there are going to be some pleasant surprises.

It's just getting harder to keep track of every young player who is interesting in some way. I'm not even talking about the "hey, this guy getting hype for youth teams and could be good in a few years!!!!" types, I'm talking about players who are playing regularly in MLS, which obviously doesn't prove they are great players but does establish a basic floor for them.
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
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Your dividing line of "potential USMNTers" seems perfectly fine to me. It's great that Jonathan Klinsmann might have a decent european pro career, but I'm much, much more interested in who might end up taking us to world cup glory.
 

wonderland

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Thanks TB. Tessmann just seems like a late bloomer to me. He looks different in a good way out there. I think he will a star or flameout.

I’ll go ahead and predict he’ll be in the starting XI in the 26 World Cup final.
 

Titans Bastard

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Thanks TB. Tessmann just seems like a late bloomer to me. He looks different in a good way out there. I think he will a star or flameout.

I’ll go ahead and predict he’ll be in the starting XI in the 26 World Cup final.
Bold. I like it. Are we going to win that game or no?!

I wouldn't call Tessmann a late bloomer though — he's 18 and starting in MLS. He's been rated as a pretty good prospect for at least a few years, and he played a fair amount for FCD's USL League One team as an amateur in 2019. If we're comparing him to a Pulisic/Reyna trajectory, then everyone's a late bloomer!