Ah Yanks, it's been a long time. Ok, I guess it's been less than one hundred days since the United States Men's National team picked up a vital road point in World Cup qualification against Trinidad & Tobago, but that seems like eons ago. Darlington Nagbe followed up his debut with the Yanks by lifting silverware in Portland. Fellow debutant Matt Miazga was bought by Chelsea this morning for a cool $5 million (and he very well could earn minutes), and Jordan Morris flirted with the Bundesliga's Werder Bremen before signing the richest ever Homegrown Player contract with the hated Seattle Sounders. In reality, these developments have created far more buzz than the games this week, but there are four players I'm interested in seeing in the friendlies:
Brandon Vincent: One of the curiosities of the roster was all of the 'Defenders' on the roster who have typically played central midfield in MLS. Aside from Eric Miller (naturally a rightback), Brandon Vincent is the only other specialized back on the roster and also the only specialized leftback on the roster. He was a top 5 pick in the recent MLS draft and a national champion this past season at Stanford but has never featured with the youth national teams let alone the senior team. Anonymous MLS personnel seem to view him as league ready, but seem mixed on whether his ceiling is international caliber. Less than full-strength Iceland and Canada should be a decent measuring stick if he gets the call.
Kellyn Acosta: Speaking of midfielders listed as defenders as leftbacks, the great Brian Sciaretta provided this salient point about the U-20's starting backline at the previous U-20 World Cup:
That '15 US U-20 WC backline: Miazga sold to Chelsea, CCV = near Spurs 18, Payne = Eredivise starter, out-of-position Acosta = #usmnt callup— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) January 30, 2016
Miller has flipped to the left as well, but is it possible we could see our very own man break through with the USMNT at a position that's consistently given the Yanks fits? Let's not forget Kellyn's pretty solid with his left foot:
Ethan Finlay: Among the national team's deficiencies in 2015 was a lack of attacking speed and width. Despite a lot of fanfare for netting double digit goals and double digit assists for Columbus last year this is Ethan Finlay's first call up to the national team at any level. Could he be this year's Gyasi Zardes?
Jordan Morris: Speaking of speed, the next big thing in American soccer has plenty to go with good size up top. He's easily been the most outstanding of the U23 group so far and has shown well in every opportunity for the senior team. Frankly, I think the USMNT missed having him available off the bench at the Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Cup, and we might be singing a different tune about last year had he not been unavailable. Will he add to his goal tally for the US this week?
Bonus Reading: If you don't know much about Iceland outside of Bjork and Sigur Ros, Iceland did qualify for Euro 16' this summer, and it's safe to say they've got their 'Golden Generation' humming right now. They won't have their non-Scandinavian based players on Sunday, but they should provide a good test for a lighter weight US side. None other than former Iceland (and current US man) Aron Johannsson gives us a nice primer on Icelandic soccer here.