Young U.S. squad ties Portugal, 1-1
Weston McKennie needed little time to make an impact for a U.S. soccer team starting a five-year wait until its next chance to play in the World Cup.
The 19-year-old midfielder from Texas scored 21 minutes into his national team debut, a 1-1 tie against Portugal on Tuesday at Leiria, Portugal, in the Americans’ first match since failing to qualify for next year’s World Cup.
McKennie, who has played his way into German club Schalke’s lineup this season, took a pass from C.J. Sapong, used three touches to create space from Ricardo Ferreira and then beat Beto to the inside post with a right-footed shot from 12 yards. McKennie joined with 18-year-old midfielder Tyler Adams to become the first pair of teenagers to start together for the Americans since 1988 and became the third-youngest American to score in his debut behind Juan Agudelo (17) and Landon Donovan (18).
“We just want to turn the page and show the U.S. what the future holds,” McKennie said. “This group is full of energy. We went out there from the very first whistle until the end and we fought from begin- ning to end.”
The U.S. used eight starters 24 or younger in Dave Sarachan’s first match as inter- im coach, and the missteps of youth were on display against third-ranked Portugal, which rested many regulars.
Ethan Horvath, a 22-year- old goalkeeper making his first appearance since his debut against Cuba in October 2016, allowed Vitorino Antunes’ volley from a flank following
Bruno Fernandes’ pass to drop between his arms, through his legs and into the net for a 31stminute equalizer. Sarachan was the top assistant to Bruce Arena, who quit three days after the 2-1 loss last month in Trinidad that ended the Americans’ streak of seven straight Word Cup appearances. Right back DeAndre Yedlin was the only player from the starting lineup in Portof-Spain to open against the Portuguese.
Weston McKennie (center) celebrates with his U.S. teammates after scoring Tuesday.