Interim coach Dave Sarachan has downplayed talk that the U.S. national team needs an overhaul after failing to qualify for the World Cup, saying "big picture I don't think it's a drastic or dire situation."
The U.S. is set to play its first match after last month's surprising loss to Trinidad & Tobago eliminated the Americans from contention for Russia 2018, with Sarachan leading an experimental squad against Portugal on Tuesday in Leiria.
Sarachan, who took over as U.S. coach on a temporary basis after Bruce Arena resigned last month, told reporters Sunday that the program remains strong despite the substantial setback.
"I think wherever there is success too, but also failure, it's a time for reflection, time for discussion, time to take a broad look at what we can do better," Sarachan said, via ESPNFC. "I would also tell you that there's certain cycles that every national program goes through, good and bad. I think we hit a little bit of a bump, no question, but we still think the foundation of our pool of players is strong, and we will be better for this in big picture.
"In the short term it's very difficult, but in the big picture I don't think it's a drastic or dire situation."
More than half the players named to Sarachan's 21-man roster to face Portugal are 24 or younger, with uncapped teenagers Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Josh Sargent making the cut.
Although Arena leaned on a veteran-heavy squad during World Cup qualifying, Sarachan indicated some of the younger players would have had a chance at breaking into the squad ahead of the World Cup had the U.S. qualified.
"I don't have a crystal ball, but I would tell you that the players that we brought in here, specifically the younger players, we wouldn't have brought them if we didn't feel that they had a future," he said. "I would have liked to have projected that if we did qualify and began in 2018 that there would be some newer, younger faces in our team."