US national team program's groundwork starts to pay dividends

The USA created just two decent chances against Wales -- both from turnovers -- leaving lots of room to improve on the offensive end in Monday's match against Panama.

The USA conceded two bad goals to Panama and looked very shaky in the middle of the backline with Matt Miazga and Tim Ream , but that was overshadowed by play of the other eight starting field players, whose average age was 19.9.

-- Sebastian Soto and Richy Ledezma , former teammates in Real Salt Lake's youth academy in Arizona, came on late in the game as subs and combined for the fourth and sixth goals.

After the USA's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and a rebuilding effort that was slow to get off the ground when U.S. Soccer waited almost 14 months to hire Berhalter as the head coach following Bruce Arena 's resignation, U.S. support sank.

The USA is free to pick any players it wants for the Gold Cup, but it makes no sense to disrupt their offseason ahead of the 2021-22 European season.

The Olympics are a wonderful platform for Americans, but clubs aren't required to release players for the men's soccer competition, which isn't an event on the FIFA international calendar.

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