It’s the last day of the 2010s, and it was a year that saw a downturn towards the end for the United States Men’s National Team. New coach Gregg Berhalter began his first year with expectations to turn the program around, and it turned out to be year of disappointment. A loss in the Gold Cup final to Mexico, another loss to Mexico just two months later in a friendly, and a loss to Canada in the group stage of CONCACAF Nations League left many calling for action. Still, the team did manage to get out of the group and qualify for the Nations League playoffs to end the year.
Back on January 1st, we made some bold predictions on what we thought would happen this year with the USMNT. Let’s see which ones we guessed correctly and which ones we should have left in the drafts.
The USMNT will beat Costa Rica in the Gold Cup final, qualifying for Confederations Cup.
Well, not starting off great here. The USMNT did manage to get to the Gold Cup final, but eventually lost 1-0 to Mexico. The USMNT beat Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Curaçao, and Jamaica on the road to the final, but could not outlast their rivals to the south.
The USMNT will lose once in Nations League group play, but qualify for the Nations League finals.
Yep...nailed it. CONCACAF Nations League debuted for the USMNT in October, and it began with a 7-0 win against Cuba, one of the largest margins of victory in program history. However, it was followed by a 2-0 loss to Canada in Toronto, leading to utter turmoil in fan circles. The USMNT would rebound to defeat Canada and Cuba (again) in November to earn enough points and goals to advance to the playoffs by goal differential.
Josh Sargent will lead the USMNT in goals…as a super sub.
The prediction that Josh Sargent would be mostly used as a super sub in 2019 was, in part, based on Jozy Altidore still being involved in the program as well as the belief that Gregg Berhalter would prefer Gyasi Zardes. Josh Sargent didn’t appear on the roster for most of the first half of the year, with Berhalter leaving him off the Gold Cup roster in favor of Altidore and Zardes. When the fall months hit and Sargent finally made a roster, he didn’t do it to back anyone up. Sargent appeared in 6 matches, all starts, and scored 3 goals for the team. He never appeared as a substitute, and given his upward trajectory, it won’t be long before he’s the full-time starter at forward.
Jozy Altidore, but not Michael Bradley, will make the Gold Cup roster.
Jozy Altidore was supposed to have a healthy 2019, while the youngsters were meant to phase out Michael Bradley in the middle. That didn’t happen so much. Both players made the Gold Cup roster and featured in all but one match during the tournament. Altidore missed the final 6 matches of the year due to injury, while Bradley was left off the Nations League roster in November. But, you can expect that both veterans will have something to say about their spots on the team in 2020 and will not give them up easily.
The USMNT will beat two Top 20 opponents.
The USMNT were 11-5-2 in 2019, but they only faced 4 opponents that were in the top 20 when they faced them: Chile (13), Uruguay (5), and Mexico twice (18, 12). They drew Chile and Uruguay, but lost both times to Mexico. Their victories this year were over Panama (71), Costa Rica (36), Ecuador (58), Guyana (177), Trinidad and Tobago (92), Panama (75), Curaçao (79), Jamaica (54), Cuba (178), Canada (69), and Cuba (179). None were close to the top 20. They have one match in 2020 already against a top 20 opponent in the Netherlands, but unless they schedule it, outside of a possible Nations League final or World Cup qualifier against Mexico, there won’t be many opportunities for the USMNT to play opponents in the top 20.
The U-20s will make the semifinals of the U-20 World Cup.
The U.S. U-20s entered the U-20 World Cup in Poland looking to get further than the quarterfinals. They had reached the quarters in the previous two U-20 World Cups, and they thought that this team had the talent to go further and even challenge for the title. Sadly, their run in the U-20 World Cup once again ended in the semifinals, losing 2-1 to Ecuador. They will have to wait for the 2021 U-20 World Cup before they can once again attempt to break through the quarterfinal barrier and get to the semifinals.
Two uncapped January Camp participants will log 5 caps in 2019.
When the January Camp roster was unveiled last winter, there were 12 players on the roster that did not have a single cap for the USMNT: Tyler Miller, Justen Glad, Nick LIma, Daniel Lovitz, Mark McKenzie, Keegan Rosenberry, Corey Baird, Russell Canouse, Jonathan Lewis, Djordje Mihailovic, Jeremy Ebobisse, and Christian Ramirez. Of those players, 4 players logged more than 5 caps in 2019. Daniel Lovitz led the way with 13 caps, while Nick Lima had 9, and both Jonathan Lewis and Djordje Mihailovic saw the field 5 times. Corey Baird was just short with 4 caps. 7 of the 12 players saw the field for the USMNT in 2019, proving that January Camp can be a springboard for players to find their way into the regular rotation on the national team.
There you have it...2019 is in the books. Hit the comments to discuss some of the predictions that came true and those that didn’t, and we’ll see you in 2020!