The United States men's national team played to a 0-0 draw against Wales on Thursday in an international friendly where several of the country's top prospects, including Gio Reyna and Yunus Musah, made their debuts. It wasn't a clean match, with rain bucketing down in Swansea, but it did give fans a glimpse at the future of the national team with World Cup qualifying set to start next year.
Here are three takeaways from the match:
The midfield trio looked fantastic
Miracles do exist! Tyler Adams played in the midfield and not right back like he has so often under Gregg Berhalter. The RB Leipzig man was joined by Juventus' Weston McKennie and Valencia's Yunus Musah. Together, they were quite good. In their first camp together and obviously playing their first minutes in the same side, there was a cohesion and an understanding that looked promising. Adams looked like a natural deep in the midfield, dropping deep to pick the ball up off the center backs and look to break defensive lines with his passing. McKennie was lively, arguably not only the best player on the field, but literally the best player in every part of the field, as the midfielder's mobility was on full display. He looked sharp defensively and also contributed quite a bit in attack, recycling possession and distributing the ball out wide to the team's aggressively deployed fullbacks.
Then there is Musah, the debutant who came out of nowhere to star early this season at Valencia before getting the call to the national team. He did superbly to split defenders and get the ball forward, and he looked nothing like a 17-year-old. While most young players rely on natural physical gifts, Musah's poise and calmness on the ball are what makes the young midfielder stand out.
Together, the passing was crisp, the understanding of where each other would be was consistent, and it was a promising performance that should excite every USMNT fan moving forward.
Luis Miguel Echegaray broke down the debut-filled draw for the USMNT on Thursday's edition of the Que Golazo! podcast. Listen below:
Playing without a striker was a waste of more than an hour
There wasn't much point to starting with a false nine, and there was even less of a point to that that player being Sebastian Lletget. This is a game where the result means next to nothing, and surely Josh Sargent would have started if he were in camp, but this still felt like a wasted opportunity. Nobody sees the U.S. playing with a false nine down the road in the games that matter, so why do it now? Friendlies are fine enough places to experiment, but nothing in this game suggests the false nine experiment is worth trying again.
Whether it was a dangerous ball from right back Sergino Dest in the second half or a couple possessions atop the box, a real striker could have made the different for the first hour-plus.
Dest coming into his own with the red, white and blue
The Dutch-born defender looks more and more comfortable with this team with each minute he plays. He was all over the field, providing width on the right and even coming in field to help with buildup play. His ability to recover was superb, and he even showed quite a bit of flair. The Barcelona man deals with pressure well, has a growing understanding with his teammates and is getting that flexibility to get forward, where at times he was a real threat down the right. A promising display by the rising star.