The Journeyman | Soccerball: Part 1 – Welcome to Team USA

Welcome to a brand new thread of my Football Manager 2020 Journeyman save that focuses on my exploits in charge of the United States of America. If you’ve been reading our Saving Sporting and Vamos Valencia series already then thank you!

If not, then we began this save with Sporting Lisbon and won the league 6 times then moved to Valencia and just won the league in our 3rd and 4th seasons in Spain. You can catch up with the entire Journeyman save from the beginning here, or just read the Sporting and Valencia stories.

Now, 10 years into the save in August 2029, I’ve been offered my first dabble into international management with Team USA. So I thought it’d be easier to split this section of my save into a separate, less frequent, blog thread. And it’s an opportunity to fill my blog with awful Americanizations and soccer puns.

The US FA have set us the task of qualifying for the 2030 World Cup, for which we’re part-way through the qualification process. To aid us in the task of managing the USA and having an actual pool of players to pick from, I’ve just turned on Major League Soccer in my league setup, which doesn’t kick in until January.

Discovering new blood

The first I thing I noticed as USA boss was that the current squad was a little on the elderly side. In fact, only one of their 23 players was under the age of 27, and he was 23 and crap.

So my first task as manager was to go on the lookout for USA soccer starlets… and I didn’t find very much, yet. Hopefully switching MLS on will help come Janaury. But I did hand first call-ups to 18-year-old defender Damon Launder, who plays for Leverkusen, and Porto’s 19-year-old midfielder Arturo CortĂ©s.

Meet the USA squad

The best players in the USA squad in 2029 are players many of you will be pretty familiar with. Our highest-rated player is striker Josh Sargent, who’s going into his 6th season with Monaco and has 35 goals in 90 caps. Our other star player is Christian Pulisic, who’s on loan at Villarreal in what is his third loan spell away from Man United after 2 years in Benfica. Now 30, he has 25 goals in 93 caps for the US.

Nearly as good as those two is midfielder Efrain Alvarez, who’s been at Dortmund for 5 years after a few years with Man City. Then we have a couple of solid midfield options in Weston McKennie, who’s still with Schalke, and Tyler Adams, who moved to Hertha BSC from Leipzig last season.

Other than that there isn’t a great deal to shout about. But our first squad with the USA looks like this:

And we’re going to start off with two relatively standard formations that fit the players available to us. An attacking option is the 4-2-3-1 with Alvarez in the whole, then a 4-1-2-3 gives us a little more defensive strength with McKennie dropping into the DM role and Alvarez in centre midfield.

Getting the soccer started

Our first matches in charge of the US of A were away to Panama and the mighty Curacao in our CONCACAF World Cup Qualification group.

Two games had already been played in the four-team group and we’d won both against Curacao and Dominican Republic, as had Panama. The top two teams from each group qualify for the World Cup. So we should coast through.

First up was a trip to Panama City and, after a day of fooling around on the canal, the boys sharpened up and got their faces on for a big game. I opted for the more defensive option as I had no idea how good Panama were and we had no scouts to tell me.

We came out flying and battered Panama in a first half in which we had 14 shots to their 1 but didn’t score. But after a stern talking to at half-time we made our dominance count with goals from our three main men Pulisic, Alvarez and Sargent to go top of the roster.

Then we were off to Willemstad in Curacao knowing all three points would seal our place at World Cup 2030 in Italy. This was even more one-sided as we blasted in 23 shots to their 1 by half-time and led 2-0 through Timothy Weah’s 20th goal for the USA and a McKennie screamer.

The barrage continued after the break as we made our way to 51 shots but only scored three more through Sargent, the excellent Adams, and another from Weah. A 5-0 away win and my job as manager was done very nicely with qualification to the World Cup secured!

Join us next time in the Soccerball thread as we complete our World Cup qualification and play a few friendlies before building up to the big competition in 2030.

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