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Why we have to get younger: Part 1

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Why? Because we’re too old.

United States Training & Press Conference Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images

Over the next few weeks I am putting together a three part feature explaining the three biggest reasons the United States need to get younger.

Reason Number 1: We’re too old

It’s no secret that we had an aging team during the last World Cup qualifying cycle. The bulk of our best players were 30 years old or older with very few players in the primes of their careers (24-29) due to a “lost generation.“ Relying on so many players that were beyond their expiration date spelled doom for the Stars and Stripes. So I am going to do the obvious and explain why we need to get younger in preparation for the World Cup in Qatar, specifically pointing out who all needs to be replaced. Let me say this in a way that everyone can easily understand: getting much younger is something that must happen over the next four years-it is no longer an option or “luxury“.

In this article, I will break the players down into several groups based on their age to shine the light on how many players need to go. With the World Cup scheduled to kick off on November 21, 2022, we are still a whopping 1,748 days (4 years, 9 months and 14 days) away from Qatar. That’s a long time, particularly when thinking about an already aging player pool. Here are the older groups:

The Ancient Legends (Thank you all for your time, but it has come to an end.)

- (GK) Tim Howard is 38. If we make it to Qatar, he would be 43 by the time we go.

- (GK) Nick Rimando is 38. He would be 43.

- (CM) Jermaine Jones is 36. He would be 41.

- (LB) DaMarcus Beasley is 35. He would be 40.

- (CM) Kyle Beckerman is 35. He would be 40.

- (S) Chris Wondolowski (ok, not a legend) is 35. He would be nearly 40.

- (S) Clint Dempsey is 34. He would be 39.

- (AM) Benny Feilhaber (ok, not a legend) is 33. He would be nearly 38.

- (CB) Geoff Cameron is 32. He would be 37.

- (AM) Sacha Kljestan (ok, not a legend) is 32. He would be 37.

The players in this group played a combined 1,768 minutes of the 9,900 minutes during the Hex (17.86%).

*Please note: every player in this group with the exception of Jones, Kljestan and Beckerman was on the roster that lost to Trinidad and Tobago.

The End is Nigh Group (The group that could make it, but it’s extremely unlikely and ill-advised)

- (GK) Brad Guzan is 33. He would be 38 (since he’s a goal keeper, this wouldn’t be as outrageous to see)

- (CB) Michael Orozco is 31. He would be 36.

- (RB) Graham Zusi is 31. He would be 36.

- (CAM) Lee Nguyen is 31. He would be 36.

- (CM) Michael Bradley is 30. He would be 35.

- (CB) Matt Besler is 30. He would be 35.

- (CM) Dax McCarty is 30. He would be 35.

- (AM) Alejandro Bedoya is 30. He would be 35.

- (CB) Tim Ream is 30. He would turn 35 about a month before the tournament.

- (LB) Justin Morrow is 30. He would turn 35 about a month before the tournament.

- (W) Fabian Johnson is 30. He would turn 35 halfway through the tournament.

- (CB) Omar Gonzalez is 29. He would turn 34 a month before the tournament.

- (RB) Eric Lichaj is 29. He would turn 34 4 days before they kick off.

- (S) CJ Sapong is 29. He would turn 34 a few days after the tournament concludes.

Borderline

- (CB) Ike Opara is 28. He would be 34 2 months after the tournament concludes.

- (CM) Danny Williams is 28. He would be 34 3 months after the tournament concludes.

The players in this group played a combined 3,446 minutes of the 9,900 minutes during the Hex (34.81%).

5,214 minutes (52.67%) of the 9,900 minutes played during the Hex were played by players that will be no younger than 34 by the time the 2022 World Cup kicks off.

The Past-Their-Primes (The group that is currently in the middle of its prime, but will be at the end or beyond the end of it by 2022). This group could very likely have a few contributors for some veteran presence come 2022, but should mostly be pushed aside for better, younger options:

- (S) Jozy Altidore is 28. He would turn 33 two weeks before the tournament.

- (LB) Jorge Villafana is 28. He would be 33.

- (W) Darlington Nagbe is 27. He would be 32.

- (RB) Timmy Chandler is 27. He would be 32.

- (CM) Alfredo Morales is 27. He would be 32.

- (CB) Matt Hedges is 27. He would be 32.

- (S) Dom Dwyer is 27. He would be 32.

- (CM) Joe Corona is 27. He would be 32.

- (S) Aron Johansson is 27. He would turn 32 two weeks before the tournament.

- (GK) Bill Hamid is 27. He would turn 32 a few days after the tournament starts. (since he’s a goalkeeper, 32 is still a very reasonable age)

Borderline

- (S) Terrence Boyd is 26. He would be 31.

- (W) Gyasi Zardes is 26. He would be 31.

- (S) Christian Ramirez is 26. He would be 31.

- (LB) Greg Garza is 26. He would be 31.

- (AM) Kelyn Rowe is 26. He would turn 31 halfway through the tournament.

The players in this group played a combined 1,961 minutes of the 9,900 minutes during the Hex (19.81%).

*Please note: The only players in this group that were used throughout the hex are Altidore, Nagbe, Villafana and Chandler.

7,175 minutes (72.47%) of the 9,900 minutes played during the Hex were played by players that will be no younger than 32 by the time the 2022 World Cup kicks off.

The players I’ve already named made up the vast majority of our teams from the past cycle. What should now be apparent is just how old we would be if we didn’t move on. With Qatar so far down the road, we have plenty of time to experiment and settle on a team that can get the job done, but the team will undoubtedly look far different than the one we saw in the Hex.

Obviously, if we are indeed going to move on, we have to have some players ready to grab those spots. The next two groups show the players that must be ready to take the baton. Here is a look at the hopefuls and where they would be in 2022:

The Sweet-Spots (The group that is either already in its prime or about to hit its prime and should still be in its prime in 2022)

- (CM) Sebastian Lletget is 25. He would turn 30 2 months before the tournament.

- (S) Bobby Wood is 25. He would turn 30 about a week before the tournament.

- (S) Juan Agudelo is 25. He would turn 30 a few days after the tournament starts.

- (CB) John Brooks is 25. He would turn 30 about a month after the tournament ends.

- (CM) Wil Trapp is 25. He would turn 30 about a month after the tournament ends.

- (RB) Deandre Yedlin is 24. He would be 29.

- (CB) Caleb Stanko is 24. He would be 29.

- (CB) Walker Zimmerman is 24. He would be 29.

- (LW) Kenny Saief is 24. He would turn 29 just before the tournament ends.

- (LB) Brandon Vincent is 24. He would turn 29 just after the tournament ends.

- (S) Jordan Morris is 23. He would be 28.

- (CM) Alejandro Guido is 23. He would be 28.

- (LB) Jeremy Toljan (pipe dream) is 23. He would be 28.

- (W) Kekuta Manneh is 23. He would turn 28 just after the tournament ends.

- (RW) Paul Arriola is 23. He would be 27.

- (CB) Matt Miazga is 22. He would be 27.

- (CM) Kellyn Acosta is 22. He would be 27.

- (CM) Christian Roldan is 22. He would be 27.

- (W) Julian Green is 22. He would be 27.

- (GK) Zack Steffen is 22. He would be 27.

- (GK) Ethan Horvath is 22. He would be 27.

- (GK) Jesse Gonzalez is 22. He would be 27.

- (S) Maki Tall is 22. He would be 27.

- (CM) Marky Delgado is 22. He would be 27.

- (AM) Lynden Gooch is 22. He would be 27 a few days after the tournament ends.

The players in this group played a combined 1,865 minutes of the 9,900 minutes during the Hex (18.84%).

The Next Generation (The group that is currently trying to break through)

- (S) Jordan Siebatcheu (assuming we can get him) is 21. He would be 26.

- (RB) Shaq Moore is 21. He would be 26.

- (CM) Emerson Hyndman is 21. He would be 26.

- (W) Mukwelle Akale is 21. He would be nearly 26.

- (CB) Erik Palmer-Brown is 20. He would be 25.

- (CB) Justen Glad is 20. He would be 25.

- (GK) Jonathan Klinsmann is 20. He would be 25.

- (W) Brooks Lennon is 20. He would be 25.

- (CB) Justen Glad is 20. He would be 25.

- (CM) Keaton Parks is 20. He would be 25.

- (LB) Antonee Robinson is 20. He would be 25.

- (LB) Danilo Acosta is 20. He would turn 25 a couple weeks before the tournament starts.

- (CM) Kyle Scott is 20. He would turn 25 right after the tournament ends.

- (CB) Cameron Carter-Vickers is 20. He would turn 25 right after the tournament ends.

- (W) Joshua Perez is 20. He would turn 25 about a month after the tournament ends.

- (AM) Luca de la Torre is 19. He would be 24.

- (RB) Reggie Cannon is 19. He would be 24.

- (CM) Weston McKennie is 19. He would be 24.

- (W) Christian Pulisic is 19. He would be 24.

- (RB) Matthew Olosunde is 19. He would be 24.

- (W) McKinze Gaines is 19. He would be 24.

- (W) Isaiah Young is 19. He would be 24.

- (S) Haji Wright is 19. He would be 24.

- (LB) Marco Farfan is 19. He would turn 24 just before the tournament starts.

- (AM) Djordje Mihailovic is 19. He would turn 24 just before the tournament starts.

- (W) Timothy Tillman is 19. He would turn 24 a couple weeks after the tournament ends.

- (S) Shaft Brewer is 18. He would be 23.

- (GK) Brady Scott is 18. He would be 23.

- (LW) Jonathan Amon is 18. He would be 23.

- (W) Nick Taitague is 18. He would be 23.

- (CM) Tyler Adams is 18. He would be 23.

- (AM) Paxton Pomykal is 18. He would turn 23 just before the tournament ends.

- (S) Josh Sargent is 17. He would be 22.

- (W) Timothy Weah is 17. He would be 22.

- (AM) Andrew Carleton is 17. He would be 22.

- (CM) Chris Durkin is 17. He would be 22.

- (CM) James Sands is 17. He would be 22.

Let’s hope that enough of these players (and even more that we don’t yet know about or that I didn’t mention) can take the next step and assume the roles that we need them to take. Let’s also hope that US Soccer learns its lessons from this cycle and allows young players plenty of opportunities to show their qualities.