USMNT: Hold My Beer

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Great post Zomp.

I don't follow USMNT nearly as closely as some others in this forum but this is the best team I've seen and I include the 2002 team in that. The technical level has just really gone up throughout most of the first XI and I think the game has also evolved in ways that are actually pretty friendly to the US and its historical strength in terms of having a pretty athletic squad. That Musah, McKennie, Adams midfield may not match others in terms of technical quality but they all clearly understand how to play modern midfield tactics and I don't think you'll find many midfields out there that can match them for athleticism. Now that we have players who also have the quality and composure to keep and use the ball once they win it (which didnt use to be the case), having an uber-athletic midfield really can be a way to control and even boss other sides that are supposedly better than us on paper.

The biggest remaining issue for the team IMO is that we still lack a quality in attack. We really struggle to convert control over the match into chances and then into goals. But its a huge accomplishment just to get to the point where we can control matches against good sides, dictating the flow of the match while preventing them from doing what they want to do. I've never really seen a US team capable of that before.
Well said, both you and Zomp.

How many of the 2002 team start for this team? I think:

- Friedel in goal (and Keller backing him up)
- McBride at striker (fits really well with our current team)
- C. Reyna in for a less-than-100% McKennie
- John O'Brien at LB (he was too good for us to play him at LB so we put him in midfield, but he played LB for Ajax)
- Eddie Pope at CB for Zimmerman

I think 2002 Donovan has a seat next to Reyna fils on the bench. But still, if you buy that, that's nearly half the starters.
 

Titans Bastard

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So, Berhalter’s gonna get an extension now isn’t he?
I genuinely don't know. Berhalter seems like the kind of guy who will miss the rhythm of club coaching. The club environment definitely allows him a better platform to explore more complicated tactical systems that interest him.

My hope is that USSF and Berhalter can amicably part after a successful WC. I am apprehensive about two-term managers, and I think Berhalter could get stale and cause one of his greatest strengths (team spirit / psychology) to deteriorate.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Well said, both you and Zomp.

How many of the 2002 team start for this team? I think:

- Friedel in goal (and Keller backing him up)
- McBride at striker (fits really well with our current team)
- C. Reyna in for a less-than-100% McKennie
- John O'Brien at LB (he was too good for us to play him at LB so we put him in midfield, but he played LB for Ajax)
- Eddie Pope at CB for Zimmerman

I think 2002 Donovan has a seat next to Reyna fils on the bench. But still, if you buy that, that's nearly half the starters.
That sounds about right in terms of players that might make this team although some of those guys (especially McBride and Friedel) might have struggled a little bit in a more possession-heavy, technical side.
 

rguilmar

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So, Berhalter’s gonna get an extension now isn’t he?
While he’s done an admirable job in some respects, I really hope not. Look at the history of USMNT managers who got a second cycle. It ain’t pretty, and there are legit reasons for that (I believe TB has been banging that drum for a while). I think he’s made nice adjustments at the beginnings of games, specifically the switch to that hybrid 4-4-2 against England (legit a brilliant move) but the second half performances have been mostly questionable- poor adjustments, poor substitutions (or solutions). I haven’t seen any high level consistency in performances, and by and large this team performed less than the sum of their parts during his tenure. This team was the second most talented in the group, and that’s where they finished, but there was the possibility of finishing lower. I do think he has some strengths as a coach, but his system-based approach is better suited as a club manager than a national team coach.

But it’s US Soccer, so it’ll happen
 

Kliq

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The thing about this team is that it gives me so much hope for the future. After a terrible run into failing to qualify in 2018, there were so many questions about the broken talent development system in the US and how we seemed to be going backward. Fast forward four years, and we seem to have more talent than ever, and every day it seems like more and more teenagers are getting looks by European clubs.

It's not coming up with a great player like Pulisic that gets me excited. It's thinking about how the country will continue to churn out Aaronsons, McKennies, Adams, Robinsons, etc. We really felt like we turned a corner when it comes to soccer development and can now stand relatively toe-to-toe with some of the bigger nations.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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Re Berhalter coming back for '26, the one thing that would give me some hope about it working out is how cold-blooded he ended up being about cutting players who had major roles in qualifying from the squad in Qatar. Part of the problem with coaches getting stale is that they have trouble giving up on players they trust when those players lose a step.

How many of the 2002 team start for this team? I think:

- Friedel in goal (and Keller backing him up)
- McBride at striker (fits really well with our current team)
- C. Reyna in for a less-than-100% McKennie
- John O'Brien at LB (he was too good for us to play him at LB so we put him in midfield, but he played LB for Ajax)
- Eddie Pope at CB for Zimmerman

I think 2002 Donovan has a seat next to Reyna fils on the bench. But still, if you buy that, that's nearly half the starters.
I wish we had xG stats going back that far. I think Turner is underrated, and he might very well deserve to start over both Friedel and Keller (he's a world-class shot-stopper, has an argument for best in the tournament, and is at least adequate with his feet at this point).

Tony Sanneh probably has to sit because Dest has been so good, but we wouldn't lose much if he had to play. His form in that tournament was incredible.

I might take Donovan over Pulisic. I think a side with peak Donovan in it would have beaten Wales by multiple goals.

I think I'd take McKennie over Reyna.
 

speedracer

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Re Berhalter coming back for '26, the one thing that would give me some hope about it working out is how cold-blooded he ended up being about cutting players who had major roles in qualifying from the squad in Qatar. Part of the problem with coaches getting stale is that they have trouble giving up on players they trust when those players lose a step.



I wish we had xG stats going back that far. I think Turner is underrated, and he might very well deserve to start over both Friedel and Keller (he's a world-class shot-stopper, has an argument for best in the tournament, and is at least adequate with his feet at this point).

Tony Sanneh probably has to sit because Dest has been so good, but we wouldn't lose much if he had to play. His form in that tournament was incredible.

I might take Donovan over Pulisic. I think a side with peak Donovan in it would have beaten Wales by multiple goals.

I think I'd take McKennie over Reyna.
As for the rest of the side

Weah >> Josh Wolff
Musah >> Eddie Lewis
Ream >> Eddie Pope, >>>> Jeff Agoos
Adams >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Mastroeni

pretty sweet.
 

SocrManiac

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Well said, both you and Zomp.

How many of the 2002 team start for this team? I think:

- Friedel in goal (and Keller backing him up)
- McBride at striker (fits really well with our current team)
- C. Reyna in for a less-than-100% McKennie
- John O'Brien at LB (he was too good for us to play him at LB so we put him in midfield, but he played LB for Ajax)
- Eddie Pope at CB for Zimmerman

I think 2002 Donovan has a seat next to Reyna fils on the bench. But still, if you buy that, that's nearly half the starters.
I love this as a baseline. We always romanticize about the good old years, but looking back it's pretty stark. But man, oh, man, McBride as a target with this team would be the icing on the cake.

Maybe we can get Nike to put McKennie against Reyna for their next commercial. Those two are cut from very similar, if not the same, cloth. Maybe McKennie has a touch more natural skill, but Reyna's workrate was higher (going on fond memory).

My only objection would be to the older keepers. They were better pure shot stoppers, but no position on the pitch has changed more in the intervening time. Friedel and Keller would have us walking on considerably thinner eggshells with the ball at their feet. Turner isn't exactly Ederson, but he also isn't the absolute stop sign that those guys would be.

We've seen the impact at times with various teams, especially Iran in their first match against England. The center backs would set their bodies up to receive a pass with the intent of dumping it backward, only to change their minds and awkwardly force the ball forward. Ream, CCV, and Zimmerman have the confidence to go back to Turner (though, to their credit, they absolutely scramble out wide with more energy than they'd need to with a more capable guy). I don't think they would with Friedel or Keller. You can't make the assumption that the older generation of keepers could dramatically improve their footskills without sacrificing their shot stopping- there simply isn't enough training time. Much of that is formative back to the youth years, anyway, developing touch and muscle memory.
 

speedracer

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I think the other unknown with projecting how older keepers would perform with the ball in the new regime is their game-reading and decision-making skills.

From what I can tell, Turner is very good at knowing where he needs to be and what touches/passes he needs to make to advance the play or get his guys out of trouble and does so with his limited ball skills (esp. compared to Zack Steffen, who’s had much more practice time with the ball but seems to never have picked up the decision-making part).
 

DJnVa

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Nine minutes and 53 seconds: The excruciating final moments of the USMNT’s win over Iran - The Athletic

There’s no relief, though. Not yet. Taremi may have been fouled. “This is a penalty!” our row of reporters exclaims. The Iranian players swarm Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, chasing him to the near sideline in protest. A few yards away, Yedlin, midfielder Weston McKennie and a U.S. assistant coach are shouting toward Wright. The coach is jumping up and down, wildly kicking his legs loose, encouraging Wright to do the same. The entire bench is trying desperately to transmit a little bit more energy to the flagging players.

After an interminable wait, the replay flashes across our desktop TV screens. Taremi has gone down easily. Cameron Carter-Vickers barely laid a hand on his shoulder. This isn’t a penalty, we all turn to each other and shout. No way.

Iran continues to confront the referee. More time ticks away before he eventually whistles for play to resume.
Nine minutes are gone, but the match continues to account for the stoppages in added time. How long can people be expected to endure this?
 

Lose Remerswaal

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I know it would never work for so many reasons, but I don't think extra time should be extended because the team that needs the time to get a result is complaining and delaying play.

There never should have been the additional 53 seconds on top of the 9.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but “nine minutes” of added time doesn’t really mean 9:00, but up to nine minutes depending on how specifically the ref was tracking stoppages? With, of,course, additional time added if needed.

I am sure I’ve seen “five minutes of added time” end at 4:45 or some other number. Usually after a potential chance has been thwarted.
 

dirtynine

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Correct me if I’m wrong, but “nine minutes” of added time doesn’t really mean 9:00, but up to nine minutes depending on how specifically the ref was tracking stoppages? With, of,course, additional time added if needed.

I am sure I’ve seen “five minutes of added time” end at 4:45 or some other number. Usually after a potential chance has been thwarted.
I believe the guidance given by the ref is “at least [x] minutes”, in this case meaning 9 as a minimum. It can be seconds less but not usually - as you mention it’s normally after the first reasonable break in play after the time is up, with deference given to an attacking team “finishing” whatever play or build up has started when the threshold was reached.
 

67YAZ

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Anyone have a link to a good primer on Hollands team?
This tactical preview from the Atheltic is a good breakdown of what the US is facing & needs to do.

FourFourTwo’s preview of the squad is useful.

anecdotally - I started talking shit to a couple of Dutch friends as soon as the final whistle blew yesterday. In turn, they are supremely confident that the Netherlands will dispatch the US but also very nervous because this squad has laid some serious eggs in recent years. Having van Gaal in place has eased a lot of those doubts - de Boer was so bad - but they still linger. If this Dutch side goes down a goal on Saturday? No one is sure how they’ll respond.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Correct me if I’m wrong, but “nine minutes” of added time doesn’t really mean 9:00, but up to nine minutes depending on how specifically the ref was tracking stoppages? With, of,course, additional time added if needed.

I am sure I’ve seen “five minutes of added time” end at 4:45 or some other number. Usually after a potential chance has been thwarted.
It is actually the other way around. The time shown is supposed to be a minimum time. So 9 minutes can be up to 9:59. It is pretty rare to see a game stopped before the time. It happened once in this tournament that I remember by just a few seconds in a 2-0 game.

I am not sure whether the Qatar stadiums have clocks that show the stoppage time. Some stadiums do not. Ref keeps the time on a wristwatch. Presumably digital with a stop button but I don’t know. Some refs you can see have two watches on their wrists. I assume someone on SOSH knows the mechanics of how this works but I am not sure. I have always assumed that when they blow it early they are actually misreading it or something.

It would be interesting to hear from a big time FIFA ref what the actual process is for this tournament.
 

Zomp

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I like our chances in the midfield battle against the Dutch but the lack of fire power up front is going to make for a difficult time against their back 3.

Honestly the biggest mismatch we have is in the management department. I don’t mind Berhalter either and think he’s doing a decent job but Van Gaal is one of football’s brilliant minds. Even though most people look back at his United tenure with mixed results, we always performed well in big games vs big opponents.
 

Zososoxfan

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It is interesting how many of the top players on this team were born or grew up abroad or have parents from other countries (Musah, Dest, McKennie, Robinson, Reyna, Weah, CCV, Ferreria...). Expanding the talent pool, and getting dual national players to play for the US, has had a massive impact. In other news, Giuseppe Rossi feels like a long time ago.
Here's the highlights--90 minutes in 90 seconds.

The US created a number of half chances--perhaps Saturday they put these together:

11th: Pulisic weak header, but someone running through with him and a knockdown header works
17th: Dest with low cross just beyond Weah, then palmed away by keeper, with Pulisic at far post if keeper missed it
28th: Sargent's shot deflected, Weah alone, but headed instead of possibly having time to touch and finish, as keeper was backing up
33rd: Sargent lays off to Weah, who blasts over from 10 yards
38th: GOAL
52nd: Weah puts it in net, but just offside

Notice that these were ALL in first half and 4 of the 6 involved Weah.

View: https://twitter.com/USMNT/status/1597707662858530816
What stood out to me the most about the goal was Pulisic's movement BEFORE the goal. The ball is on the left flank (I think with Robinson), who plays it back to Weston. Pulisic had tried to combine with Robinson, then with Mckennie, but after he glances around he clears out and heads to the net. McKennie plays the long diagonal ball, and well you know the rest. The reason I quoted @DJnVa is because that movement looks natural to him. I've been playing soccer my whole life (albeit at my higher levels as a FB) and that's not an obvious sequence of events at all. It shows that a lot of these guys are much more than just athletes.

Also, @Yo La Tengo , wasn't it Daniele de Rossi??

Great post Zomp.

[snip]
The biggest remaining issue for the team IMO is that we still lack a quality in attack. We really struggle to convert control over the match into chances and then into goals. But its a huge accomplishment just to get to the point where we can control matches against good sides, dictating the flow of the match while preventing them from doing what they want to do. I've never really seen a US team capable of that before.
TBF, I think a lot of sides struggle to put together a coherent attack line. For starters, how many teams have a legit world class #9? Poland (Lewa), England (Kane), Argentina (Lautaro), and Belgium (Lukaku). I think you could also make the argument for Serbia (Vlahovic) and Brazil (Jesus, Richarlison), even though I haven't seen enough of Vlahovic and I think both Brazilians are better suited as secondary strikers. OK fine--how many of these sides also have legit wingers to take advantage of the space a 9 creates? England (Foden, Sterling, Grealish, Saka, etc.), Argentina (Di Maria, Correa, Gomez, etc.), and Brazil (the whole squad). IOW, it's really hard to luck into having world class players in attack that complement each other. This tourney will be interesting to see how strong sides who lack an elite central attacker fare (looking at you Spain, Germany (!), and Netherlands). France is possibly the most interesting as Deschamps has continued to roll out Giroud in Benz's absence, since Mbappe is such an elite player (who also plays thru the middle to some extent), and he also happens to have other insane attacking options (Dembele, Coman, Griezmann, etc.). For the same reasons I'm fascinated by the Dutch--Memphis is a fine player, but can he lead them to the promised land? Is Bergwijn the answer (IMO, he's best used as a secondary striker). Janssen? Gakpo???

So, Berhalter’s gonna get an extension now isn’t he?
I genuinely don't know. Berhalter seems like the kind of guy who will miss the rhythm of club coaching. The club environment definitely allows him a better platform to explore more complicated tactical systems that interest him.

My hope is that USSF and Berhalter can amicably part after a successful WC. I am apprehensive about two-term managers, and I think Berhalter could get stale and cause one of his greatest strengths (team spirit / psychology) to deteriorate.
QFT @Titans Bastard . I think every manager at WC is essentially trying to leverage it into a better club job. Sometimes it fits into a career arc, but often it's just a stepping stone. For all the reasons you stated, I hope Berhalter and USSF move on and can keep the good vibes. That also makes it more likely he can come back again in a later cycle without acrimony.
 

DJnVa

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It is actually the other way around. The time shown is supposed to be a minimum time. So 9 minutes can be up to 9:59. It is pretty rare to see a game stopped before the time. It happened once in this tournament that I remember by just a few seconds in a 2-0 game.

I am not sure whether the Qatar stadiums have clocks that show the stoppage time. Some stadiums do not.
The stadium the US played in yesterday did not. I read a story today about how the reporters all started timers on their phones.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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At the risk of beating this drum too hard, Berhalter after this tournament Berhalter or whoever comes next really needs to do everything possible to convince Folarin Balogun to pick the USMNT. The level Balogun has shown this year at Reims is just way beyond anything any of the other CF candidates have ever demonstrated and his playing style would actually fit in very well with the possession-based system the US has been developing. He really could be the missing piece to help take this squad up a level.

Balogun needs to choose soon if he's going to have a national team career anywhere, the England side looks really difficult break into and Nigeria is probably locked into Osimhen at CF for the next 8-10 years. The USMNT makes all the sense in the world for him, especially at a moment when Berhalter or whoever can really make the case to him that the team is on the rise and that he would fit in well.
 

Titans Bastard

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The thing about this team is that it gives me so much hope for the future. After a terrible run into failing to qualify in 2018, there were so many questions about the broken talent development system in the US and how we seemed to be going backward. Fast forward four years, and we seem to have more talent than ever, and every day it seems like more and more teenagers are getting looks by European clubs.
Oddly enough, there's such a large lag time between improved developmental practices at the youth level and visible results at the NT level that all the processes that helped create the generation we are watching at this World Cup were well underway even as the USMNT flopped in Couva in 2017. It's strange to think about.

It's not coming up with a great player like Pulisic that gets me excited. It's thinking about how the country will continue to churn out Aaronsons, McKennies, Adams, Robinsons, etc. We really felt like we turned a corner when it comes to soccer development and can now stand relatively toe-to-toe with some of the bigger nations.
Assuming you are talking about Antonee, well, we didn't churn him out. But results at the YNT level portend optimistic things regardless!
 

teddykgb

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It’s really not just about the striker though, right? They’re hardly producing scoring chances for any striker to convert or not convert. Of course, a striker plays a part in that but it seems more like the consequences of playing a very industrious midfield and essentially having 3 attackers who aren’t bad but aren’t really the types who can consistently beat 2 and 3 men to create danger. Which is an incredibly hard thing to do.
 

Jeff Van GULLY

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A lot of talk about the lack of a striker but I thought Sargent played very well and was dangerous against Iran and I really hope he's fit enough for Saturday. It seems it's clicking for him.

If he's out, start Ferreira and be quick with a Gio sub? Gregg is awful but can he really run Wright out there again?
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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It’s really not just about the striker though, right? They’re hardly producing scoring chances for any striker to convert or not convert. Of course, a striker plays a part in that but it seems more like the consequences of playing a very industrious midfield and essentially having 3 attackers who aren’t bad but aren’t really the types who can consistently beat 2 and 3 men to create danger. Which is an incredibly hard thing to do.
If we're being honest, the quality just isn't there in attack beyond Pulisic or at fullback to really create chances consistently enough. I'm happy to build the team around the industrious and athletic MMA midfield for years to come, almost like a Liverpool setup, but then you need to up the quality in those other positions. Guys like Dest and Weah are nice contributors and its great to have guys with the technical ability and tactical understanding to play a slicker possession-based style but their level isn't actually that high and you're going to need to improve on them if you want to really get better.
 

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A lot of talk about the lack of a striker but I thought Sargent played very well and was dangerous against Iran and I really hope he's fit enough for Saturday. It seems it's clicking for him.

If he's out, start Ferreira and be quick with a Gio sub? Gregg is awful but can he really run Wright out there again?
I'm fairly ambivalent about Berhalter but are we still calling him awful after an undefeated group stage with the youngest team in the tournament?
 

Yo La Tengo

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Also, @Yo La Tengo , wasn't it Daniele de Rossi??
I was thinking about the player from New Jersey who chose to play for Italy rather than the US... and then didn't make the Italian team in 2010. It felt like a crushing blow at the time. Semi-related, while I'm generally not in favor of expanding the US military presence overseas, there is definitely a side benefit for US soccer. As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I'm all for expanding that program, but, I'll concede that there tends to be fewer super athletes in those groups.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I know it would never work for so many reasons, but I don't think extra time should be extended because the team that needs the time to get a result is complaining and delaying play.

There never should have been the additional 53 seconds on top of the 9.
Then again, you never know for sure which team will need the extra time. In this case it was pretty obvious because the complaining was in like the 98th minute or something like that. But imagine the Iran complaint for a penalty happened in the 91st minute and they scored in the 93d. At that point you hope the ref added time for complaining because the USA would need it. So as a ref you never can know and trying to keep all that in mind in the middle of having to call a game might give them too much discretion.

But I do think sometimes refs let their sense of who is time wasting and why dictate the way they administer stoppage time. In the Algeria game, the celebration after Donovan’s goal lasted almost all of the stoppage time but the ref ended the game almost immediately on the number. I think that was because of all the time wasting Algeria had done before the goal.
 

Titans Bastard

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At the risk of beating this drum too hard, Berhalter after this tournament Berhalter or whoever comes next really needs to do everything possible to convince Folarin Balogun to pick the USMNT. The level Balogun has shown this year at Reims is just way beyond anything any of the other CF candidates have ever demonstrated and his playing style would actually fit in very well with the possession-based system the US has been developing. He really could be the missing piece to help take this squad up a level.

Balogun needs to choose soon if he's going to have a national team career anywhere, the England side looks really difficult break into and Nigeria is probably locked into Osimhen at CF for the next 8-10 years. The USMNT makes all the sense in the world for him, especially at a moment when Berhalter or whoever can really make the case to him that the team is on the rise and that he would fit in well.
Balogun is an interesting player and I'd like to add him to the mix. I'm not as completely confident that he will be a huge upgrade on what we have, in part because Sargent/Ferreira/Pepi are also pretty young and could show improvement over the next few years as well, and in part because I haven't watched many of his games. Over the years I've developed a wariness about this sort of thing, because USMNT fans tend to romanticize yet-to-be-recruited dual nationals (grass is always greener).

Not saying he can't be great, but I feel like there's a large cloud of uncertainty on the question.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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A lot of talk about the lack of a striker but I thought Sargent played very well and was dangerous against Iran and I really hope he's fit enough for Saturday. It seems it's clicking for him.

If he's out, start Ferreira and be quick with a Gio sub? Gregg is awful but can he really run Wright out there again?
Sargent was industrious with his runs and hold up play, but didn’t look goal dangerous. You can win with a striker in that form, France did in 2018 without Giroud scoring, but in that case it’s ideal to have the best set of wingers in the entire world rather that okay to good wingers, which is what we have.
 

SocrManiac

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I'm fairly ambivalent about Berhalter but are we still calling him awful after an undefeated group stage with the youngest team in the tournament?
I think we're all reacting to what we see and forgetting what we don't see.

Gregg's recruiting, training, and tactical setup won this group. His match management has left people asking some legitimate questions. After the first two matches, it should be pretty apparent that the team's domination of the first half has come at the price of falling off a cliff in the second. High-pressing club sides (Liverpool come to mind) have to strike a balance not only within the season but within the match as well. The US, in my opinion, needs to learn pacing and how to flip the high intensity off without becoming so passive as to start conceding. It's a very difficult balance, but I suspect the US's run is going to end because of late second half goals. That ties to the next point...

Subs come awfully late, and many leave us scratching our heads. We don't see activity until 10 minutes after the side is visibly tiring, and usually it's a very late response to fresh legs from the other side. From a personnel standpoint, we're not privy to all of the information that Berhalter has. I have to assume he knows something about Reyna that the rest of us don't. I don't think Wright can see the pitch again after yesterday, at least not under normal circumstances. Shaq Moore over Yedlin is another switch that can't happen again.

A lot of talk about the lack of a striker but I thought Sargent played very well and was dangerous against Iran and I really hope he's fit enough for Saturday. It seems it's clicking for him.

If he's out, start Ferreira and be quick with a Gio sub? Gregg is awful but can he really run Wright out there again?
Sargent was never dangerous. That's the problem. He was industrious enough and did the running and harassing defending that was completely absent from Wright, but as a CF he is wasteful. That tame left footed strike sticks out to me in particular.
 

teddykgb

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If we're being honest, the quality just isn't there in attack beyond Pulisic or at fullback to really create chances consistently enough. I'm happy to build the team around the industrious and athletic MMA midfield for years to come, almost like a Liverpool setup, but then you need to up the quality in those other positions. Guys like Dest and Weah are nice contributors and its great to have guys with the technical ability and tactical understanding to play a slicker possession-based style but their level isn't actually that high and you're going to need to improve on them if you want to really get better.
Imo it really hasn’t been there with Pulisic for a while now either. He’s still good but he’s lost that little bit of dynamism needed to put over the top.

I think the key is fullback. It’s such an important position in the modern game and you could envision some type of Liverpool style attack where the midfield holds it down and covers and the fullbacks provide attacking threat. You can almost argue that’s what we are trying but we don’t have the quality of cross nor the cohesionof movement to not have that be a hit and hope situation. Liverpool use that high line and tricky dribblers to have a lot of bodies in threatening positions whereas right now the Us is mostly trying a direct attack and then using the overlap and cross as a bit of a last resort
 

InstaFace

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Anyone have a link to a good primer on Hollands team?
This is a surface-level, casual-accessible preview of the matchup:

https://sports.yahoo.com/usmnt-vs-netherlands-2022-world-014259548.html

They note that the 5-at-the-back defensive line of the Dutch is the sort of thing the US has had trouble breaking down, but they also say it's a "low block", which does not describe how I can recall seeing them play. Given how good passers their team is, top-to-bottom, I can't imagine them conceding possession and just trying to defend-and-counter, nor should they, that's just not how they're built. However, they do make this recommendation, which seems interesting and coherent to me:

If the USMNT wants a template to beat Netherlands, they should intensively study the Ecuador Group A matchup. Ecuador’s 3-4-3 shape overloaded the midfield and its duel-winning ability kept the pressure on the Dutch backline. The U.S. can do the same with its 4-4-2 midblock and it also has the superior technical quality compared to Ecuador to retain possession. The only difference is the U.S. doesn’t have a clinical finisher like Enner Valencia, which might be the margins the Dutch win by in what should be a low-scoring defensive battle (penalties also not out of the equation).
The thing is, I don't really like the 4-4-2 vs England for situations other than the very specific situation we faced with England. Consider what motivated the strategic plan of "deny their center mids the ball at all costs":

- England's midfield are technically brilliant but were physically overmatched by MMA
- England's greatest threats are their midfielders spraying to an advancing front line who all have excellent speed and dribbling
- Our fullbacks had the pace to counter attacks down the wing, so when it goes there, we can rotate the midfielders over to trap and dispossess or force a reset
- We were fine, even thrilled, with a draw

Berhalter's normal 4-3-3 builds from the back with triangles that involve one midfielder at all points on the field, and assumes the wingers will invert (cut inside around the box) and have fullback overlap runs for attacking width. The 4-4-2 pushed McKennie (and Pulisic) out as wide midfielders (mostly in defense but also in attacking transition), at the cost of an interior midfielder, which means that:

(1) there's holes in the middle if they do get the ball through, which really plays to Frenkie De Jong's playmaking strength,
(2) Adams is nudged toward one side or the other, minimizing the value of his scramble defense abilities and his passing-in-transition skills,
(3) it assumes the weak point of the defense is pullbacks and crosses, whereas the 4-3-3 attacks centerback mobility by more (relative) emphasis on angle cuts and through balls

So I expect to see more of the Wales tactical plan, personally. And I hope it comes with a heaping helping of Gio Reyna, because we will need some creative ideas, disruptive cuts and field vision.
 

DJnVa

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I don't recall us getting so gassed in the second half of the England game. At least it didn't *seem* like it did yesterday. We weren't sitting there withstanding one Kane attempt after another.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Balogun is an interesting player and I'd like to add him to the mix. I'm not as completely confident that he will be a huge upgrade on what we have, in part because Sargent/Ferreira/Pepi are also pretty young and could show improvement over the next few years as well, and in part because I haven't watched many of his games. Over the years I've developed a wariness about this sort of thing, because USMNT fans tend to romanticize yet-to-be-recruited dual nationals (grass is always greener).

Not saying he can't be great, but I feel like there's a large cloud of uncertainty on the question.
He needs to show it over a longer time period but right now it looks like he has taken a pretty big leap while on loan at Reims. There isn't a lot of surrounding talent at Reims but so far he has been one of the best non-PSG players in Ligue 1 this season. I haven't seen enough of Pepi or Ferreira to have much of an opinion but I don't think Josh Sargent is in the same class of player.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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On the issue of not having a striker, I guess I would add the thought that the team actually looked pretty dynamic offensively playing in tied games in the two games where playing for a win seemed appropriate.

And the goals they scored were nice goals. They seemed to change tactically and philosophically after the goals. The truth is that they have a pretty stout defense and can make a goal hold up. One goal allowed in the World Cup groups is pretty good. They have never been close to that before. And that is with a team in the group that scored 9 goals in their other two games. It always looked clear to me that if the US had tried to press forward against England that England would have been far more likely to score on a counter.

Anyway, I am not arguing this is an offensively dynamic team. And a guy who can pick out the top corner from 18 yards or a true poacher would make this team very much better. But I don’t think they are far away. Just having two guys with a little chemistry can change a lot even if they are not classical striker types. It has felt to me that there has really been nobody with that kind of chemistry with Pulisic but that would really be all they need.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Imo it really hasn’t been there with Pulisic for a while now either. He’s still good but he’s lost that little bit of dynamism needed to put over the top.

I think the key is fullback. It’s such an important position in the modern game and you could envision some type of Liverpool style attack where the midfield holds it down and covers and the fullbacks provide attacking threat. You can almost argue that’s what we are trying but we don’t have the quality of cross nor the cohesionof movement to not have that be a hit and hope situation. Liverpool use that high line and tricky dribblers to have a lot of bodies in threatening positions whereas right now the Us is mostly trying a direct attack and then using the overlap and cross as a bit of a last resort
Yup, I agree with all of this (including the part about Pulisic).

Good problems in the end though, given where this team has been in the past.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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There's a little bit of "the food is terrible, and such small portions!" when it comes to substitution talk here I think. The lateness of subs seems pretty intimately connected with the severe drop-off in quality from all our subs except for Aaronson and theoretically Reyna. Who else on the bench are we really that desperate to see more time from? Maybe de la Torre if he was fit and match fit, but neither of those things are true right now.
 

Titans Bastard

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I think we're all reacting to what we see and forgetting what we don't see.

Gregg's recruiting, training, and tactical setup won this group. His match management has left people asking some legitimate questions. After the first two matches, it should be pretty apparent that the team's domination of the first half has come at the price of falling off a cliff in the second. High-pressing club sides (Liverpool come to mind) have to strike a balance not only within the season but within the match as well. The US, in my opinion, needs to learn pacing and how to flip the high intensity off without becoming so passive as to start conceding. It's a very difficult balance, but I suspect the US's run is going to end because of late second half goals. That ties to the next point...

Subs come awfully late, and many leave us scratching our heads. We don't see activity until 10 minutes after the side is visibly tiring, and usually it's a very late response to fresh legs from the other side. From a personnel standpoint, we're not privy to all of the information that Berhalter has. I have to assume he knows something about Reyna that the rest of us don't. I don't think Wright can see the pitch again after yesterday, at least not under normal circumstances. Shaq Moore over Yedlin is another switch that can't happen again.
I see what you are saying, but the bottom line is that "other than the recruiting, training, and tactical setup, Berhalter was awful" isn't a very persuasive, compelling, or thoughtful argument.
 

Zososoxfan

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I'm sure this was discussed elsewhere, but can anyone play Berhalter's advocate and try to rationalize playing Shaq over Scally, Wright over anyone else, or why Gio isn't playing at all?
 

Jeff Van GULLY

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I have a lot of respect for the posters in this forum but I disagree that Sargent was not dangerous yesterday. I think he did exactly what was asked of him in Gregg's system and did a lot with opportunities he had, creating chances and making himself available. There were a good number of times he has open and in position but the ball did not go to him. There was a lot of space in the attacking third and some of the credit must go to him.

I believe the drop off from his performance yesterday to whichever backup Gregg chooses would be similar to the drop off from McKennie to Acosta. Maybe Ferreira can be a spark but what Sargent did over 77 minutes yesterday? No, that can't be expected. He's also shown improvement in the two games he has played and without the injury, I would have expected even more improvement as he gets more comfortable with his team, the stage, and Gregg's tactics.

While quieter in the Wales game (admittedly too quiet), he did combine on the goal there as well.

I'm trying to find a a way to rewatch the match and will try to cut a reel of all his touches if I can do so.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I'm sure this was discussed elsewhere, but can anyone play Berhalter's advocate and try to rationalize playing Shaq over Scally, Wright over anyone else, or why Gio isn't playing at all?
Reyna is a 20-year-old who has done next to nothing at club level for two years while fighting injuries. We don't really know his physical level or the form he is showing in training but he may not be somebody you really want to throw into a very intense match with huge stakes, especially if you're defending a lead.

Moore seems bad but its not like Deandre Yedlin is some ace up the sleeve and Scally is 19.

Wright obviously hasn't played well but he fits the profile of the type of player many managers would want to put on yesterday in that game situation - a physical hold up striker who can keep the ball and allow your dead-tired attack/midfield to get up the field, who is also big enough to be an asset defending corners and set pieces if you're going to bunker down for the last 10-15 minutes.

I don't think Berhalter has many good options on the bench, that's the core problem.
 

Kliq

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Oddly enough, there's such a large lag time between improved developmental practices at the youth level and visible results at the NT level that all the processes that helped create the generation we are watching at this World Cup were well underway even as the USMNT flopped in Couva in 2017. It's strange to think about.



Assuming you are talking about Antonee, well, we didn't churn him out. But results at the YNT level portend optimistic things regardless!
That is definitely ironic in that as all the hand-wringing about how the US didn't have adequate coaches at the youth level and how were were doomed without massive changes, that a bubbling generation of talent was right on the cusp of breaking through and maybe things were not quite as broken as we originally thought (although still with substantial room for improvement).

Your right that we didn't produce Antonee necessarily. However, I'd counter by arguing that a player like Alphonso Davies is someone who is another great example of the MLS-to-Europe pipeline churning out an elite player. What makes me so optimistic about US soccer is the biggest leagues in Europe looking at scooping up talented young American players who are just dipping their toes in the professional waters of MLS, the same way they look at teenagers in the Portuguese, Dutch, Belgian, etc. leagues.
 

singaporesoxfan

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Well said, both you and Zomp.

How many of the 2002 team start for this team? I think:

- Friedel in goal (and Keller backing him up)
- McBride at striker (fits really well with our current team)
- C. Reyna in for a less-than-100% McKennie
- John O'Brien at LB (he was too good for us to play him at LB so we put him in midfield, but he played LB for Ajax)
- Eddie Pope at CB for Zimmerman

I think 2002 Donovan has a seat next to Reyna fils on the bench. But still, if you buy that, that's nearly half the starters.
My son's soccer camp coach was a starter on the 1990 World Cup squad and I wonder if anyone on that team would have started for this one. Next time I see him I might ask him what he thinks!
 

Arroyo Con Frijoles

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We are exceptionally shallow (except perhaps at the wing, and who knows what's up with Gio), and our starters are working their asses off. So unfortunately we're left with the problem of riding tired legs the whole way or putting in fresh guys who are much worse than the tired guys they're replacing. I have been mostly anti-Gregg during qualifying, but I thought the roster selection and this tournament have shown real growth in him. Not much you can do if you feel like you need to take Dest off, and Josh had to come off.
 

67YAZ

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I'm sure this was discussed elsewhere, but can anyone play Berhalter's advocate and try to rationalize playing Shaq over Scally, Wright over anyone else, or why Gio isn't playing at all?
I don’t get Shaq over Yedlin and haven’t heard Gregg explain that. My only thought is that maybe Yedlin has a knock or a tight hammy?

They are very comparable talent-wise and skill-wise these days, essential defensive FBs that can run the wing and lump in crosses of inconsistent quality.

But Yedlin was the veteran we needed yesterday. He’s been to a WC before. He spent time tangling with world class wingers as a starter for Newcastle, where he was also coached by one of the best managers of the past couple decades (Benitez). He’s been around the block in a few countries, and frankly, he’s on this squad to be the unflappable vet in the locker room.

Yedlin would have slotted into the match and not shown the nerves that racked Shaq yesterday. I dunno, Yedlin is in Qatar exactly for moments like yesterday.
 

ragnarok725

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Reyna is a 20-year-old who has done next to nothing at club level for two years while fighting injuries. We don't really know his physical level or the form he is showing in training but he may not be somebody you really want to throw into a very intense match with huge stakes, especially if you're defending a lead.

Moore seems bad but its not like Deandre Yedlin is some ace up the sleeve and Scally is 19.

Wright obviously hasn't played well but he fits the profile of the type of player many managers would want to put on yesterday in that game situation - a physical hold up striker who can keep the ball and allow your dead-tired attack/midfield to get up the field, who is also big enough to be an asset defending corners and set pieces if you're going to bunker down for the last 10-15 minutes.

I don't think Berhalter has many good options on the bench, that's the core problem.
Yes - all of this. Reyna is also blocked by better players at his position - Pulisic and Weah who are starting, and Aaronson who is unquestionably in better form and shown a lot this year so far at Leeds. Gio is the shiny new thing, but I think it's pretty clear that Berhalter just doesn't trust him to waltz in and take the job from other guys who have proven themselves with the team over the last 18 months.

Moore over Yedlin is the real headscratcher for me. I think it just has to be injury related. Moore has been atrocious in both matches he's been brought in, while Yedlin was totally serviceable against Wales.

I think you summarized the Wright thing fairly well. I am a bit surprised we haven't seen Ferreira given how much burn he was getting in qualifiers when Wright wasn't even with the team, but it's probably just a case of a player profile Berhalter likes in the situation moreso than anything else. I really wish Wright was either Pepi or Pefok right about now.
 

Titans Bastard

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I don't really understand Berhalter's soft spot for Shaq, but I also think that the difference between him and Yedlin isn't all that big.

The depth issues are real, and it's a product of not having much more than 50% of a normal player pool. The 90-94 and 96 birth years were very weak and so we just don't have that much talent from the mid/late 20s cohort. Next cycle, the vast majority of our core will be in prime years and we will hopefully fill in our depth with additional players who emerge.

These are the moments where our spotty depth really shows itself, but if we zoom out to see the big picture I think the player pool has advanced more than I or most people expected over the last four years. That this group is capable of getting into the knockout rounds bodes well. These guys have experience winning a gut-check game to get out of the group and will have experience in the big time of a knockout round game, too.

The goals for rebuilding the men's program from the Couva low for this cycle are at Mission Accomplished status. Everything from this point out is gravy. Expectations for the next cycle should be elevated.