The U.S. men’s national team’s kids earned the chance to play on Monday in Pennsylvania, and they delivered.
Josh Sargent and Tim Weah scored their first U.S. goals after center back Walker Zimmerman opened the scoring, and the Americans rolled to a 3-0 win over Bolivia in a friendly at the Philadelphia Union’s Talen Energy Stadium.
Interim coach Dave Sarachan had taken a more conservative approach in his few matches as manager, but he unleashed the youth for the Memorial Day exhibition. Christian Pulisic–who scored his first career USA goal against Bolivia two years ago to the day–made his return to the U.S. lineup for the first time since the fateful night that sealed the USA’s failed World Cup qualifying campaign, and he was joined by a few other teenagers, too.
Weah (18), Sargent (18) and Weston McKennie (19) were all in a new-look XI, as were first-cap-earners Alex Bono, Erik Palmer-Brown and Antonee Robinson, as the USA continued to turn the page ahead of a new four-month cycle. In all, six players earned their first caps on the night.
Sargent and Weah combined to provide an early spark for the U.S. Sargent took down a ball and spun before playing it forward down the right channel for Weah. The PSG winger crossed for Rubio Rubin, who was beaten to the ball but earned a corner while crashing in toward goal in the sixth minute.
Weah caused more trouble in the 10th minute, drawing a save as the Rubin returned the favor and found space for him on the right again with a perfect throughball after settling a clearance out of the back.
Weah’s bright start nearly turned disappointing soon after, as he went down with an apparent left leg injury in the 16th minute. It appeared that he was going to come off for Julian Green, but after conferring with the medical staff on the touchline, Weah remained in the game.
After high pressure forced a turnover Weah then combined with Sargent, working a give-and-go that resulted with the latter seemingly putting a chance on frame, only for a Bolivia defender to come up with the block that put the chance out for a corner.
The same combo developed again in the 33rd minute, with another deflection robbing Sargent of a shot on target and instead putting it out for a corner.
The U.S. got its breakthrough in the 37th minute off another corner. Joe Corona sent in the outswinger, and Zimmerman headed it home, with the LAFC center back scoring his first international goal to give the USA a 1-0 lead.
Sargent started the second half with a goal that would make Karim Benzema applaud. Just like the Real Madrid forward blocked a Loris Karius clearance into the net in the Champions League final, so too did Sargent win the ball off a poor clearance. Sargent had more work to do than Benzema, flicking the ball over his head before controlling and firing a deflected effort by Carlos Lampe to make it 2-0 in the 52nd minute. The goal made Sargent the fourth youngest U.S. player to ever score for the senior national team and the second youngest to ever score on his senior debut (Juan Agudelo still holds that title).
He was then bumped down one of those lists by one spot seven minutes later. Weah, two days younger than Sargent, followed with a goal of his own minutes later on his second cap. Robinson did the heavy lifting on the left channel, beating his defender and sending in a left-footed cross, and Weah was there to volley it home off the bounce to make it 3-0 in his last act before coming off.
The match devolved into a series of substitutions for the U.S. from that point on. Benfica midfielder Keaton Parks was handed his debut, coming on with Andrija Novakovich and Green for Weah, Sargent and Corona at the hour mark. Fifteen minutes later, Man United right back Matthew Olosunde became the sixth U.S. player on the night to make his U.S. debut, coming on with Lynden Gooch to replace Rubin and Eric Lichaj.
The USA returns to action on June 2 against Ireland in Dublin, before wrapping up this camp on June 9 vs. France in Lyon. Sarachan is expected to make numerous roster changes before the Americans take off for Europe.
Here were the rosters for both sides:
GOALKEEPERS: Alex Bono (Toronto FC), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge)
DEFENDERS: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Matthew Olosunde (Manchester United), Erik Palmer-Brown (Manchester City), Antonee Robinson (Everton), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
MIDFIELDERS: Joe Corona (Club América), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Julian Green (Stuttgart), Alejandro Guido (Club Tijuana), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Keaton Parks (Benfica), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Rubio Rubin (Club Tijuana), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain)
FORWARDS: Andrija Novakovich (Reading), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
GOALKEEPERS: Carlos Lampe (Huachipato), Guillermo Vizcarra (Hapoel Ra’anana)
DEFENDERS: Carlos Añez (Oriente Petrolero), Oscar Baldomar (Universitario de Sucre), Cristian Coimbra (Blooming), Luis Haquim (Oriente Petrolero), Gustavo Olguin (Oriente Petrolero), Jesus Sagredo (Blooming), Jose Sagredo (Blooming)
MIDFIELDERS: Danny Bejarano (Panteolikos FC), Rodrigo Borda (Universitario de Sucre), Leandro Maygua (Universitario de Sucre), Sergio Moruno (Aurora), Edson Perez (Nacional Potosi), Miguel Quiroga (Nacional Potosi), Juan Ribera (Oriente Petrolero), Rodrigo Rodriguez (Oriente Petrolero), Luis Jose Vargas (Blooming)
FORWARDS: Bruno Miranda (DC United), Hector Ronaldo Sanchez (Oriente Petrolero), Leonardo Vaca (Blooming) Rodrigo Vargas (Karpaty FC)