U.S. youngsters Miazga, Carter-Vickers and Acosta facing uncertain club futures
The United States men's national team returns to action next week to face Portugal with a squad that is noticeably different than the group that choked away a World Cup berth in Trinidad and Tobago.
Future Werder Bremen man Josh Sargent, who turned heads earlier this year at both the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups, receives his first senior team nod at age 17, while impressive New York Red Bulls 18-year-old midfielder Tyler Adams will also look to make his senior team debut. Not to be outdone, 19-year-old Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie is in the fold for the first time as well.
All three find themselves in good club situations. Sargent will benefit immensely from Werder Bremen's youth setup, while McKennie is already starting in the Bundesliga for Schalke. As for Adams, another year in MLS before crossing the pond is likely in the cards for the native New Yorker.
But things are not as straightforward for a different trio of young players. Defenders Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga and midfielder Kellyn Acosta have all been part of previous USMNT setups, yet find themselves facing nebulous futures at their respective clubs.
Cameron Carter-Vickers, DF, Sheffield United
Facing a future with little playing time at Tottenham, Carter-Vickers was sent out on loan this past summer to Sheffield United where he has thrived, starting nine of the Championship club's 16 matches, including the past eight.
Consequently, Sheffield United have compiled a 6-2 record in that span and surged into second place in the table. His ability to move forward suits manager Chris Wilder's aggressive style and his performances have Sheffield United fans asking the club to sign Carter-Vickers to a permanent deal.
The move would make good sense for the 19-year-old defender. With Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen all well ensconced in Mauricio Pochettino's stable of centre-backs, Carter-Vickers' chances of a Spurs recall are slim.
His nine matches in the Championship are still a small sample size but the talent is there for all to see. The question is if Carter-Vickers' Premier League debut will come with Sheffield United or another club; because at this stage it's doubtful it'll be with Tottenham.
Matt Miazga, DF, Vitesse Arnhem
Like his fellow 2015 U20 World Cup centre-back partner Carter-Vickers, Miazga is a player that has been the beneficiary of a move away from one of the Premier League's top clubs. On loan from Chelsea, Miazga is now in his second season with Dutch side Vitesse. Miazga has made eight starts in 11 Eredivisie matches, started all four of Vitesse's Europa League games and has already featured in the Eredivisie Team of the Week three times in 2017-18.
A solid presence in the back, Miazga is as steady as they come when it comes to the aerial game and clearing his own penalty area. There is still work to be done on the technical side of things and his passing requires improvement, but at 22 that will come.
Taking into account the glut of Chelsea players out on loan and the incumbents at Stamford Bridge, a return to Chelsea is highly unlikely come June, so it would behoove Miazga to seal a permanent move at another club. There is talk of Ajax coming in for the defender, all but ensuring European football for Miazga for as long as he would remain in Amsterdam.
Kellyn Acosta, MF, FC Dallas
Of the three, Acosta has seen the most first-team action at club level, with more than 100 appearances with FC Dallas since 2013. Initially, 2017 started as a breakout season for the 22-year-old midfielder. He collected three goals and two assists in the first 10 MLS matches and added three goals in the CONCACAF Champions League, one a sensational free kick in the semifinals against Pachuca.
That set the stage for Acosta's call to the USMNT, and his strong midfield pairing with Michael Bradley in the 1-1 draw at Mexico in June had fans feeling hopeful. But few could have predicted what would happen next. Acosta did not have the Gold Cup many were expecting, and his second-half slump mirrored FC Dallas' fall out of a playoff spot.
Acosta's FC Dallas status for 2018 is unknown. He's on record saying that he wants a move to Europe, but a winter transfer is always tricky, since it comes in the middle of the European season. Still, it would be the best move for Acosta at this stage of his career. FC Dallas do a wonderful job when it comes to development, but it's time for Acosta to prove himself in Europe. The USMNT will only benefit from that.
Arch Bell is based in Austin, Texas and covers CONCACAF for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ArchBell .