“Being down, 2-0, at halftime is like being down, 4-0, in a standard game, but we had enough leadership to get something out of the sport,” Donovan said. “Once I have a look at this team today, in the event that they have a hiccup early, if Wales scores in the primary five minutes, are they capable of dig and get something out of the sport?”
The present American players have also seemed aware of the pitfalls of youth. In September, after they were humbled by Japan, 2-0, in an exhibition match, the 23-year-old Tyler Adams suggested they’d more to learn. Japan had unsteadied the USA with a high line of pressure, and the Americans weren’t savvy enough within the moment to regulate.
“Our team is young,” Adams said that night. “I feel today we were possibly somewhat bit naïve.”
On the World Cup, where a single poor performance, even within the group stage, will be the difference between elimination or advancement, that would mean disaster.
That inexperience has some wondering if this World Cup arrived too soon for this particular United States team, if its fans should as an alternative rest their hopes on the 2026 tournament, which will probably be jointly hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico, when this young core of American players will probably be older, more experienced and, presumably, a bit higher.
The players, at the very least, said they didn’t have the time to think that way.
“For us, it’s straight away,” McKennie said. “For us, it’s to have the option to depart our mark and work toward our goal, changing in the way in which the world views American soccer, and I feel that the time is now to have the option to try this.”