Young U.S. squad aims to realize potential at Qatar World Cup
by Chris Marsden
It took years before the idea of an American soccer team returning home became a reality. But on Saturday that dream became a reality.
“I’m so proud of the work that the team has done to bring people together and connect everybody from around the world to come together and play in Qatar,” said Chris Pontius, who coaches the LA Galaxy academy and is a former U.S. men’s national team coach. “This is a huge opportunity. You don’t get this opportunity very often.”
Pontius led the U.S. squad, which is made up of five MLS Academy players, a handful of UCLA players and a few dozen MLS and youth national team players. The team won all three of its games in a 1-1 draw at home with Mexico on Tuesday, then fell, 2-0, in a friendly loss to Japan the next day.
When asked how the team plans on competing at this year’s World Cup in Brazil, Pontius said: “We’ve got some great young players. I think they’ll be up for it.”
The team’s head coach, Bobby Nash, is a former U.S. men’s national team coach. Nash said he is looking forward to competing in the “real world” as well as the U.S. Soccer World Cup.
“The biggest challenge for us is having those young players and knowing we have to keep them fresh,” Nash said. “Getting it off of the field for a little bit, so they can really focus on the game and not worry about the politics at the moment.”
The U.S. team plays its first game in Qatar on Thursday against the Qatari youth national side, who are also playing in the World Cup. The team includes players from the UCLA women’s soccer team.
The U.S. is not the first U.S. team to play in a World Cup. A U.S. team that played in the 1976 Olympics in Munich won the tournament. The best U.S. teams in men�