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Ireland Beat USA 2-1 in John O'Shea's Final International Match

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2018

DUBLIN, IRELAND - JUNE 02:  John O'Shea of the Republic of Ireland waves goodbye to the fans ahead of his final game during the International Friendly match between the Republic of Ireland and The United States at Aviva Stadium on June 2, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Republic of Ireland gave veteran defender John O'Shea the perfect send-off against the United States, as Alan Judge scored a late winner in a 2-1 triumph in Dublin.

Bobby Wood gave the Stars and Stripes a lead late in the first half, but Graham Burke hit back after the break. Both teams had their chances in an exciting second half, but it was Judge who broke the deadlock in the final minutes.

Here are the key takeaways from this friendly.

     

Give the Kids Some Time

Ireland overran the American side for large stretches of the first half, but the Stars and Stripes bounced back well and took full advantage of some bad defending to take the lead.

After the break, the team's youthful side showed in a good and bad way. There was plenty of fight and optimism, but also some shoddy defending that led to two goals and the eventual loss.

As shared by Goal's Ronan Murphy, the team that started on Saturday was remarkably inexperienced:

Ronan Murphy @swearimnotpaul

USA’s average number of caps from their starting XI is 12. So a very inexperienced team. #USMNT #COYBIG #IRLUSA

Relying this heavily on inexperienced youngsters is exactly the right approach for an American side that missed out on World Cup qualification and finds itself in the midst of a transition.

Between Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Timothy Weah, Matt Miazga and Weston McKennie, American football is bursting with youthful talent, and now is the time to give each and every one of them the chance to develop and get used to the rigors of international football.

There will be growing pains along the way, and that's perfectly acceptable. The old way wasn't working any longer―it's time to embrace a new generation of players, even if it means a few losses in the short term.

   

Big Questions After O'Shea's Retirement

At the age of 37, O'Shea said goodbye to international football on Saturday, playing less than a full half before Darragh Lenihan replaced him.

It was something of a surprise to see him come off so soon―most expected him to feature for about an hour―and less of a surprise when Ireland conceded shortly after, the result of a defensive miscue.

Per Murphy, it might not have happened if the veteran was there to stop Wood:

Ronan Murphy @swearimnotpaul

Well, that was shambolic defending from Ireland. Should've left O'Shea on. Wouldn't have happened! #COYBIG #USMNT #IRLUSA

The sequence perhaps perfectly illustrated one of the biggest questions surrounding Irish football: Who is going to replace the Sunderland man as the defensive heart of the side?

   

Announce a Head Coach Already

Dave Sarachan may not be the most exciting or popular name in the USMNT's ongoing search for a head coach, but he's at least shown a willingness to move this team forward and rely on the younger players a bit more.

Whether it's the interim tactician or someone else, U.S. Soccer has to do something. It was embarrassing when the calendar turned to 2018 and the Stars and Stripes were still without a head coach, and it's only gotten worse since. Either lift the interim tag or give someone else the job.

   

What's Next?

The United States face France on June 9, while Ireland's players can start their summer vacations.

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