By Official Florida FC
Thursday was Debut Day for the United States men’s national team.
Six players made their debut for the national team in a scoreless draw against Wales in Swansea, three of whom were in the starting XI. Gio Reyna and Yunus Musah, two 17-year-old wunderkids may have made more headlines. The third was Miami native Konrad de la Fuente.
The 19-year-old Floridian lived in the United States for the first decade of his life, before moving to Spain. He has been enrolled in Barcelona’s academy for years and currently plays for Barcelona B.
de la Fuente, who goes by Konrad, played 70 minutes on the wing for the Americans.
He had the best chance of the game for the visitors when he skied his chance over the crossbar in the 33rd minute.
The chance was created from the Americans pressing Wales deep in the Welsh defensive third. The USMNT forced a turnover, the ball bounced to the Miami native. He chested it down, but was too eager and blazed over from six yards away.
In the 50th minute, Konrad’s header was blocked before it could trouble Welsh keeper Danny Ward.
That was his last critical role in the attack and was replaced by Uly Llanez n the 71st minute.
Johnny Cardoso, Owen Otasowie and Nicolas Gioacchini also made their debut for the USMNT as substitutes.
Afterward, American manager Gregg Berhalter told reporters he was impressed with the contributions of the three debutants in the starting lineup.
“Konrad, he was coming into the game with moments of real quality,” Berhalter said. “I like how he just hung in there.
“Gio showed real quality at times, he really did. For him, it was the fluidity on the ball and getting into positions to hurt the defence. He was a 17-year-old making his debut and he didn’t look like that.
“Yunus was similar. Real quality on the ball, on a bouncy field under pressure. He was maybe lacking a final ball which we know he can deliver, but he worked really hard.”
When the 24-man roster was announced earlier this month, U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter praised Konrad’s verticality on the wing.
“When you can do that now, you can create space between the lines. He’s relentless with his running behind the backline and it’s something he’s really worked on,” Berhalter said at the time.
“When you look at his progression from the Under-20s at the World Cup, he wanted the ball at his feet all the time. I think he’s had this evolution in his game where he realizes to be successful, he’s going to have to use the timing of his runs and his movement behind the back line and that’s what he’s doing non-stop. He’s done it with the second team and he’s done it with the first team now, and it’s been a real pleasure to watch. He’s a guy that we’re really excited to work with, excited to get in camp and add that element to our game as well.”
Thursday was the first time in more than nine months Berhalter had a chance to manage the USMNT. The Americans will not be out of action long as they are set to face Panama in Vienna, Austria on Monday.