Cameron Carter-Vickers got what was only his second cap as a full United States international footballer on Tuesday night in Cary, North Carolina, but if USA interim manager Dave Sarachan has anything to do about it, it certainly won’t be his last.
Carter-Vickers, Tottenham’s young English-American center back currently on loan at Ipswich, reunited with his old USA U20 partner Matt Miazga for Tuesday’s 1-0 friendly win against Paraguay. The win wasn’t just a confidence booster to a team utterly demoralized after failing to qualify for this summer’s World Cup — it can also be seen as the beginning something brand new for American football.
The average age of Tuesday night’s USA team was just under 24 years old. It was full of names that casual fans of USA’s football team might not recognize: Zack Steffen, Will Trapp, Tim Weah, Kenny Sayef. These are names that were either on the fringes of USA’s roster last year, or were playing for the underage squads.
They are also the future of the USA national team, and Carter-Vickers is very much part of that future. Sarachan, filling in for whoever it is who will eventually take over as USA manager eventually, was quick to praise the defensive work of Carter-Vickers and Miazga against a gritty Paraguay tream.
“Outstanding today. Outstanding. Carter-Vickers didn’t put a foot wrong, or Matt in my opinion. Obviously they know one another, and I thought they played with confidence, played with physicality and just a pairing that looked like they’d been there before for a young twosome.”
Carter-Vickers and Miazga, a Chelsea player currently on loan at Vitesse, certainly know each other well, as they were a regular center back pairing for USA at the U20 level. They were a formidable defensive partnership and seem to have a good understanding of the way the other one plays. If they continue to develop, both will likely be part of an American defensive corps led by Wolfsburg’s John Brooks (who was not called up due to injury).
Sarachan knows about CCV’s potential, and even if Cam hasn’t yet done enough to crack Tottenham’s first team, Sarachan sees what he can bring to an American side that is in desperate need of a reboot. He noted as much ahead of Tuesday’s match.
“This guy [Carter-Vickers] is steady, man, steady as a rock. He’s hard, he’s alert, he’s better than you think with the ball.
”He looks like a running back, but as you can imagine, when the moments come that he’s got to get in on a play, or not allow a guy to get behind him, he knows how to use that body. There’s a lot of big guys that don’t, and there’s a lot of little guys that do, but he’s a big guy that knows how to use his body and moves better than you think. He’s just been very consistent all week long.”
Being good enough for an extremely young USA side isn’t the same thing as being ready to play for Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League, but Cam is now getting regular minutes — and rave reviews — on loan at Ipswich, and is still only 20 years old. There’s still every indication that he can get better and work his way into Mauricio Pochettino’s plans.
And if in the process he can help USA rise like a phoenix from the ashes of their 2018 World Cup qualification campaign, that’s even better.