The United States Men’s National Team is getting ready to take on South American rivals Paraguay in a friendly Tuesday evening in Cary, North Carolina. This is not the USMNT that you remember. That one crashed out of World Cup qualifying after losing at Trinidad & Tobago in October.
This one has a new interim manager - Dave Sarachan - and is looking to the future by bringing in a host of young American footballers that could develop into a team that USA will bring to the 2026 World Cup in Qatar. Tottenham Hotspur defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, currently on loan at Ipswich, was called up for what would be just his second USA cap.
Cartilage Free Captain founder Kevin McCauley is in North Carolina as credentialed press for the match and managed to snag a short interview with Carter-Vickers in the mixed zone before open training on Monday. Cam indicated that many of the players in Sarachan’s squad know each other from the American youth international squads, and that this match is an chance for USA to retool through a youth movement.
“All the young players [in North Carolina], we’ve played together for a long time and we all know each other well. We know how each other play and we all get along well off the field as well as on.
“A lot of us weren’t involved in the qualifying campaign, but we still felt the disappointment and the pain of not making the World Cup. We definitely feel like we need to work together, work with the coach and with US Soccer in general just to get back on track and get the wheels moving again.”
The average age of the squad Sarachan has called up to the USMNT is 24 years old, making it one of the youngest USA teams in recent memory. It’s quite possible that Carter-Vickers will be reunited with his old defensive partner Matt Miazga, currently on loan at Vitesse via Chelsea, and whose partnership USA used to great effect at the U21 levels a couple of years back. The squad also includes 18-year old midfielder Timothy Weah, son of the great Liberian footballer George Weah.
For Cam, this will be an opportunity to try and establish himself as a regular in the USMNT, and use it as a platform for future growth. It will be a challenge for these young Americans against an experienced Paraguay side, but it could also mark the beginning of a new era for American soccer, and Carter-Vickers seems to understand its importance.
“We’re all young players. None of us are at the peak of our careers yet or playing at the highest level. [The Paraguay match] is a stepping stone and all of us together are trying to work hard as a team. Hopefully we can get to that World Cup level.”