U.S. needs to make life harder for Italy than England - Dave Sarachan
GENK, Belgium - United States interim manager Dave Sarachan says he wants the team to make life more difficult for Italy than it did in last week's 3-0 defeat to England.
The U.S. was second best from the outset against the Three Lions and was pinned back for much of the match, especially in the first half. However, Italy will pose a different challenge and Sarachan is looking for more tenacity from his side.
"Over the course of 12 months, in all the matches we've played, we've made it somewhat hard on teams -- whether it's getting in on tackles or blocking passing lanes or making it difficult for teams to really create a lot of chances," Sarachan said at his prematch news conference. "I thought in the England game we lost that element a little bit.
"We've addressed that, being a little more of a risk-taking team and being more aggressive, not in a way to foul but just making it hard on the opponent. I think that's what we're looking for [on Tuesday]."
Sarachan's roster has been trimmed to 23 players since the England match. A hamstring injury has ruled out Weston McKennie, while Luca de la Torre has returned to Fulham and Kenny Saief was released back to Anderlecht.
One player who is back in contention against Italy is forward Josh Sargent. The 18-year-old had been dealing with a right ankle strain, and had been reduced to training on the side at the U.S. practice sessions prior to the England match, but Sarachan pronounced him fit and ready to go.
Sargent has yet to make a first-team appearance for Werder Bremen this season, though he is playing and scoring regularly for the reserves. Sarachan said the U.S. was taking the long-term view in continuing to call up Sargent. The young forward has five appearances with the U.S. this year, scoring two goals.
"We're always looking for goal scorers, and I think Josh has a fairly bright future with the program," Sarachan said. "We felt it was important for him to get a head start in gaining experience and being a part of these important games, and I think in the big picture that's going to go a long way."
Four players on the roster -- Brad Guzan, Jorge Villafana, Aaron Long and Tyler Adams -- are involved in the MLS Cup playoffs. Sarachan said he is has been mindful of the loads these players are taking on, but that he will do what is best for the U.S.
"I'm sensitive to the needs of the clubs and the players where they're at," he said. "But we have a job to do too, and I think these young guys are great professionals.
"It won't influence me. I'm going to put the guys out there if they're healthy and ready to go."