The 2018 World Cup cycle officially begins tonight in St. Louis.
The U.S. men's national team takes on St. Vincent and the Grenadines at Busch Stadium (I will be there). It is the first qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup.
While the announced roster isn't drastically different from what we've seen the past couple years under Jurgen Klinsmann, it does feature some interesting names that could quickly become mainstays for the rest of the cycle. Namely, Matt Miazga and Darlington Nagbe.
This was the first national team camp that Nagbe was eligible for and he was called in right away. The Liberian-born winger/attacking mid/playmaker/whatever has created some incredible highlights since joining the Portland Timbers in 2011 after a stellar career at Akron. His father, Joe Nagbe, was capped 97 times by Liberia, but the family moved to Ohio when Darlington was 11 years old. Now he's a U.S. citizen and eligible for the national team.
What kind of player is the U.S. getting? Great question. I'm not sure many people have a good idea of that. His frequent position moves with Portland, and inconsistent play with the Timbers, have made this a mystery. Who knows what Klinsmann will do with him. Nagbe has excellent ball skills and is one of the most talented attackers in the U.S. player pool, and can be used as a winger or as a central attacking mid to be more a playmaker, something that the U.S. hasn't had for years.
On the other side is Matt Miazga. The 20-year-old New York Red Bulls defender is having a breakout year. He has impressed with both the U-20 (in the U-20 World Cup) and U-23 (in Olympic qualifying) national teams this year and has become a stalwart in the Red Bulls' lineup. He's also eligible for Poland so this could be a cap-tying maneuver or sorts, but he's certainly one to watch for the future.
I'd like to see more new faces brought in, but this is a start. Hopefully Nagbe and Miazga have positive showings and more newcomers are brought in shortly.
Filed under: U.S. Soccer