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McKennie, Sargent headline young USMNT squad for Portugal friendly

19:04 GMT+4 07/11/2017
Weston McKennie Schalke
Teenage standouts Weston McKennie and Josh Sargent were among the new faces called in, while Christian Pulisic was left off the U.S. roster.

The U.S. national team's youth movement in the wake of missing out on the 2018 World Cup is officially underway.

Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie, U.S. Under-17 and Under-20 standout Josh Sargent, and New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams headline a group of nine players 22 and younger called in as part of the 21-man U.S. squad that will face Portugal in a friendly on Nov. 14 in Leiria, Portugal.

Caretaker U.S. coach Dave Sarachan has called in an inexperienced group that includes just six players who were on the squad for the team's World Cup qualifying loss to Trinidad & Tobago in October, a defeat that cost the United States a place at the 2018 World Cup. The group total of 12 players with five or fewer national team caps, including Vitesse defender Matt Miazga and Sheffield United defender Cameron Carter-Vickers.

One young player not included in the squad is Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic, who is being rested after a taxing 2017 for club and country.

“Christian has had a very long year, not only with the National Team but finding his way with Borussia Dortmund," Sarachan said. "Between his contributions for the National Team and his club, he has probably played more total games than almost anyone in our pool this year, and in doing that Christian has really pushed the limits mentally and physically. With those things in mind, this was an opportunity for Christian to get a break and recharge for the rest of an important campaign with Dortmund.”

The teenage trio of McKennie, Sargent and Adams will garner the most attention as they each take part in their first senior national team camp. McKennie has turned heads since breaking into Schalke's lineup, while Sargent is capping a year that saw him star at both the U.S. Under-20 and Under-17 World Cups. Adams just finished his first full season as a starter for the New York Red Bulls, emerging as one of the best young players in MLS.

Sargent, 17, is the youngest player on the squad and the only player who isn't yet officially a professional. He is set to sign a contract with German Bundesliga side Werder Bremen when he turns 18 in February.

“With this particular roster and the availability of players, it was a great opportunity to bring Josh," Sarachan said. "He’s in good form coming off his time with the U-17s and is someone who will be able to handle the fitness level we’re looking for in this camp. He’s obviously impressed at both youth World Cups this year and so this camp gives us a chance to give a first look to a young player we think will have a bright future in the National Team program.” 

One player not included is Monterrey midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez. The 18-year-old central midfielder is in the midst of a breakout season as a starter for the Rayados, drawing interest from the Mexican national team, but reports have suggested Gonzalez would prefer to play for the USMNT. He is currently taking part in the Liga MX playoffs.

The U.S. squad does have some veterans to help lead the group, including Alejandro Bedoya and Tim Ream, a pair of 30-year-olds who are the oldest players on the squad. 2014 World Cup veterans John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin are also in the squad, with Brooks having recovered from the leg injury that forced him to miss the U.S. team's recent World Cup qualifiers.

As expected, the U.S. squad doesn't include any players still taking part in the MLS playoffs, including Toronto FC stars Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, Columbus Crew standouts Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp, and Seattle's Clint Dempsey and Cristian Roldan.

Injuries kept out some players expected to be part of the squad, including Paul Arriola, who recently underwent a minor procedure, and Bobby Wood, who has been battling lingering knee issues.

Gold Cup group stage standouts Dom Dwyer and Kelyn Rowe are back in the fold after impressing this summer, while Danny Williams makes his return to the team for the first time in a year, having earned his way back as a regular for English Premier League side Huddersfield Town.

Here is the full U.S. squad that will face Portugal:

GOALKEEPERS : Jesse Gonzalez, Bill Hamid, Ethan Horvath

DEFENDERS : John Brooks, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Eric Lichaj, Matt Miazga, Tim Ream, Jorge Villafana, DeAndre Yedlin

MIDFIELDERS : Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Alejandro Bedoya, Lynden Gooch, Weston McKennie, Kelyn Rowe, Danny Williams

FORWARDS : Juan Agudelo, Dom Dwyer, C.J. Sapong, Josh Sargent