The evening is mild, the pitch is pristine and the visiting forward sees only daylight between him and the goal. He is wrong. Behind him, quiet and quick, comes center defender Erik Palmer-Brown. The kid shoulders the evasive striker, slowing him down. His foot connects with the ball. Then comes the slide tackle that dislodges it definitively — and returns possession to the American all-star team.
That whole episode, in Denver last month, took 11 seconds; Palmer-Brown works fast.
For once, the Americans might beat the Brits at their own sport. And it’s because a young English boy is hopping across the pond to play the beautiful game, soccer (we say with emphasis), internationally.
Coach of Team USA Jürgen Klinsmann must be counting his lucky stars at the coup. A British-born 16-year-old named Cameron Carter-Vickers is rapidly rising through the ranks of the American youth system and just became one of the youngest players ever selected for the U.S.’s under-23 team: He’s four years younger than most of his teammates. And now, Carter-Vickers is a prime candidate for the 2016 Olympic Games, where the U.S. will hope to field a team of up-and-comers.
A legacy often boils down to numbers.
Let’s start with 10. That’s the number Landon Donovan, arguably America’s greatest soccer player of all time, will be wearing when he suits up for the U.S. men’s national team for the last time on Friday in a friendly against Ecuador. Coach Jürgen Klinsmann already said he would captain the squad, start the match and probably play about 30 minutes.
Edgar Castillo is not particularly fond of interviews, but the number of requests he receives may soon be increasing, what with his next international match coming against Mexico, a country whose media and fans once called him a traitor.
On Thursday, with the U.S. national team in the midst of a shakeup after the recent hiring of team manager Jürgen Klinsmann to replace Bob Bradley, the 24-year-old Castillo was unexpectedly selected to play in the August 10 friendly. The match in Philadelphia will not only be the first time the archrivals have met since Mexico’s 4-2 come-from-behind defeat of the United States in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in June, but also Castillo’s first chance to play against his old team and the country where he still resides.