Cameron Carter-Vickers has been told by a senior figure in the United States Soccer Federation to view next week’s friendly with Portugal as an opportunity to secure a permanent position in the senior men’s squad.
The Sheffield United defender is among 21 players selected by acting head coach Dave Sarachan for Tuesday’s game in Leiria, which pits the USMNT against the reigning European champions.
With over half of those called-up by Sarachan aged 24 or under - Carter-Vickers, who has made nine appearances for United this season, is 19 - the match viewed as the first part of a rebuilding process prompted by the USA’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in Russia.
Sarachan, who took charge following Bruce Arena’s resignation, said: “The message is two-fold. First, it’s important to use the week to establish a relationship with each other on and off the field and to build that so, by the time we play on Tuesday, we have a good understanding of what this particular group is about.
“Secondly, for a lot of the younger players coming in this is the start of a new era in our program and so it’s important to set the right tone and make sure they all really get a grasp of what this means and the honour that comes with playing for your national team.”
Carter-Vickers, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, has been capped at under-18, under-20 and under-23 level but has yet to make an appearance for the USMNT. Born in Essex, he qualifies for the USA by virtue of his father; a former NBA basketball player from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Although Carter-Vickers’ call-up means he will miss a key part of United’s preparations for Friday’s Championship fixture at Burton Albion, Sarachan, a key member of staff when the USMNT reached the World Cup quarter-finals 15 years ago, believes he will return an improved player.
“Portugal are the number three ranked team in the world, and so any time you have the opportunity to play such a high-quality opponent, it’s very important for the program,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for these players to measure up a little bit and see where they’re at in their development.”
With Fernando Santos, the Portugal coach, also electing to name a young squad, Carter-Vickers will be denied to opportunity to line-up against Cristiano Ronaldo at the Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa. But Barcelona’s Nelson Semedo, Bernardo Silva of Manchester City and Internazionale’s Joao Mario are all expected to take part.
Carter-Vickers is the seventh United player on international duty this week with David Brooks (Wales) and Daniel Lafferty (Northern Ireland) also missing the first phase of Wilder’s build-up for Albion. Academy youngsters Marcus Dewhurst, Rhys Norrington-Davies, David Parkhouse and Jordan Doherty are also away.