Weekend Recap: USL youth development, Debinha shines, and the USMNT’s problems

Quick Hits
  • USMNT: Analyzing what went wrong for the U.S. against Japan
  • NWSL: Debinha is leading the North Carolina Courage’s late-season charge
  • USL: This weekend provided yet another example of the value of youth development

We’re back with another edition of the Weekend Recap. Every Monday, we make it easier for you to keep up with the most interesting and important things in American soccer.

Today, we’re taking you through some of the past weekend’s key storylines, including what went wrong for the USMNT against Japan, another example of the value of youth development in the USL, and more.

But before we get to any of that, we have an exciting announcement to make! We hinted about it last week and now it’s time to officially unveil TAKLD, a new website/newsletter that will run alongside Backheeled’s soccer coverage. 

We know you don’t have time to read every soccer article that gets published online. Or to listen to every podcast. Or to watch every video. So we’re cutting through the noise for you. Every weekday, TAKLD will send you the best American soccer stories. No fuss. No frills. Just a list of the top must-read, listen, and watch soccer content from a host of outlets and channels. As a Backheeled subscriber, you’ll receive TAKLD’s curated set of content from day one. 

Check out TAKLD.com to learn more! Now, let’s talk soccer.

USMNT

Lowery: What went wrong for the U.S. in possession against Japan

“We want to use the ball to disorganize the opponent and create goal-scoring opportunities.” 

That’s how Gregg Berhalter described his tactical philosophy back in 2019, just weeks into his new job as the manager of the U.S. men’s national team. 

But in the United States’ 2-0 loss to Japan on Friday, they failed to truly break down Japan and create chances. Berhalter’s team took just four shots against their very aggressive and well organized opponents. Japan forced the U.S. to play through them and create chances and, after 90 minutes, the USMNT largely failed at both of those things.

So, what went wrong for the United States in possession...[Subscribe]

NWSL

Cascone: Debinha is leading the North Carolina Courage’s late-season charge

It was a chaotic weekend in the NWSL, and the playoff race is still in full swing. At this point, four teams have officially clinched the playoffs: Portland Thorns, OL Reign, Kansas City Current, and San Diego Wave. The Current and Wave are playoff first-timers, while the Thorns and Reign are regulars in the postseason.

With those four teams securing playoff berths, and NJ/NY Gotham, Washington Spirit, Racing Louisville, and Orlando Pride already eliminated, four teams are left vying for the final two playoff spots. One of those teams is the North Carolina Courage, who spent 12 consecutive weeks at the bottom of the NWSL standings. Now, with just one game remaining in the regular season, the Courage have found themselves above the playoff-elimination line for the first time this season. 

How did they get here? Let’s get into it...[Subscribe]

USL

Morrissey: This weekend provided yet another example of the value of youth development

On Thursday, the U.S. men’s U-19 team started Orange County SC’s Korede Osundina as captain with Kobi Henry, Osundina’s former teammate, starting alongside Louisville City’s Josh Wynder in the backline. Two days later, the U.S. U-20s took on Mexico with a starting 11 built entirely of players with experience in the USL Championship and USL League One. 

The USL has been a crucial building block for a generation of up-and-coming stars, and the doldrums of the league’s regular season have introduced the next wave of prospects...[Subscribe]

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