By Andrew Keh

New York Times News Service

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United States at Portugal

When: 11:45 a.m. Tuesday


LISBON, Portugal — The majority of the players called in to the United States men’s national team’s training camp here this week were not in Trinidad and Tobago last month when the squad endured a humiliating end to its World Cup qualifying campaign.

A few of them were not even awake.

“I was in bed and woke up in the middle of the night to a bunch of texts,” said defender Matt Miazga, who plays his club soccer in the Netherlands. “I watched the highlights in the morning. It was shocking.”

In the wake of that defeat, U.S. Soccer this week left home the core of the team that failed to qualify for Russia and instead assembled an experimental roster — a mix of veterans, newcomers and even a few teenagers — for next week’s friendly against Portugal. But that change in personnel has done little to dissipate the thick cloud of trauma that followed the coaches and players onto the field on Wednesday as they took their first steps into a yearslong competitive purgatory.

The World Cup is seven months away, and the only game on the Americans’ schedule is Tuesday’s exhibition in Leiria. The coaching staff is temporary. The federation’s leadership is in disarray. There are more questions than answers.

And so the players here, most of them blameless in the qualifying debacle, were fully aware that the weight of disappointment would rest on their shoulders, that the task of starting to rehabilitate the spirit of the program was, for the moment, in their hands.

“Everyone has to take responsibility,” said Miazga, 22, who along with several other young players should have the chance now to showcase his talents over the next few years. “Everyone has to look in the mirror and focus on what they can do to represent the country and the badge the right way.”

Late Tuesday night, in a hotel conference room in Lisbon, the team’s caretaker coach, Dave Sarachan, gathered the arriving players for an introductory meeting. Sarachan, the longtime assistant to former coach Bruce Arena, spoke openly about the feeling of shock that lingered from the team’s train-wreck defeat last month.

“The elephant in the room was there,” Sarachan said. “I felt it was important to at least address the fact that, for myself and others involved, we were gutted by what happened. That’s not going to go away for a while.”

The U.S. team’s overwhelmingly youthful roster includes four teenagers: defender Cameron Carter-Vickers (19), midfielder Weston McKennie (19), midfielder Tyler Adams (18) and forward Josh Sargent (17), all of whom have generated much intrigue as exciting, unproven talents. Sargent was one of two players absent Wednesday — defender Jorge Villafaña was the other — because of travel complications. But the wary mood surrounding the program in the wake of last month’s crushing disappointment was evident in the availability of the other new faces; U.S. Soccer said it would not allow Adams, McKennie and Sargent to speak to reporters until they have been in camp for a few days.

The team’s far more famous teenager, Christian Pulisic, 19, was not even called in this week; U.S. Soccer said he was being given a chance to rest after a hectic year.