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U.S. boss hails young Americans' draw vs. Portugal after 'difficult' 2017

U.S. boss hails young Americans' draw vs. Portugal after 'difficult' 2017
From ESPN - November 14, 2017

LEIRIA, Portugal -- Acting U.S. manager Dave Sarachan said he was proud of the way his young side delivered in securing a 1-1 draw with reigning European champions Portugal after a "difficult" 2017.

Both teams put out under-strength sides, with Portugal missing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Moutinho. But with the MLS Cup playoffs still going on and with some U.S. players dealing with injuries, it was the Americans that were more shorthanded, as Sarachan handed international debuts to Schalke youngster Weston McKennie and New York Red Bulls 19-year-old Tyler Adams.

The reverberations from the U.S. team's failure to qualify for the World Cup are also still being felt, and will no doubt hang over any memories of 2017. But the youthful American team acquitted itself well in this match, with McKennie netting the U.S. goal.

"It is a friendly, they had a mixed group and all the rest, but we still had to come here and play on their soil, with a group of players that have only been together for six days," said Sarachan. "Some knew each other, some did not, and obviously we put a lineup out with a plan. But they were the ones that went out and executed.

"And what I told them after the game was 2017 was a difficult year for U.S soccer, and there were a lot of people out there that were not sure what this was going to look like tonight. I said to the group that I could not be more proud, and the future is bright, because there were a number of players on this field that [could] have a really, I think, good and long career with the national team."

It was a night in which the number of positive individual performances far outweighed any bad ones. But Sarachan lauded the play of McKennie, Adams, and Matt Miazga. McKennie even came inches away from delivering the game-winner, only to see his second half header hit the bar.

"I thought all three were very good tonight, I really did," said Sarachan of the aforementioned trio. "I thought as a starting point they played with a lot of confidence. There was no fear. The moments that came for each player that were difficult moments I thought they handled well.

"Weston obviously getting the goal but not only that, his calmness on the ball and his ability to collect balls and play the next pass was very good tonight. Tyler, his engine is remarkable, and his energy was great throughout. And Matt was very solid in the back. I thought all three guys over the course of 90 minutes had really a solid performance."

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