USMNT - Greg Berhalter Takes Over

IthacaMatt

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Any thoughts on last night's win over Panama?

The coliseum in Glendale was practically empty, selling only 6,000 tickets for a 60,000 seat arena. The camera was framed very close to the field so you wouldn't be constantly reminded of all those empty seats.

Let me just start by saying US Men's Soccer made a huge mistake by waiting 15 months to hire the brother of the guy who runs USMNT Marketing. Everybody knew that Greg was the choice last summer, but for some reason the National Team's development was placed on a back burner so that Greg could coach his team through the last MLS season.

Dave Saracen did a good enough job for the first 3-6 months as an interim caretaker coach, and he brought a total of 58 new players through the system since the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. So that part was fine. But after that, the constant shuffling in and out of new players became counterproductive. The quality of play fell off, especially in the last couple windows.

The absence of Christian Pulisic for the past year, along with several other European based players and most of the old guard made for a very long try-out period, that for the last 6 months anyway, should have been used to do what they're doing now - building chemistry and deciding on who will be in the team as we journey toward 2022 Qualifying and Gold Cups in between.

So, this dawdling and indecision (if not neglect ...) has cost them in terms of public support. We got a faceless team cycling through mediocre results for the past 15 months with occasional bright spots, but really no idea what the final team was going to start to look like.

So, now, we got to see Greg Berhalter's style of play. I know it was our B team against Panama's B team, but after a 3 week camp, there were clear signs of the style of play, and what type of coach Berhalter is going to be.

First thing I noticed is that our ability to simply retain the ball was much improved, especially in the midfield. Our backs were so slow initiating the offense, but big improvements have been made already in just a basic thing like holding onto the ball. Klinsmann's teams never mastered this, nor did Bob Bradley's or Bruce Arena's. We have always been a defense-first and hit on the counter type of team, precisely because we couldn't hold the ball. So that was very encouraging, event against Panama's B team. Panama is still an athletic team, so that wasn't a bad effort.

The next thing I noticed is that instead of trying to play the ball through the middle of the pitch, where defenses are most congested, Berhalter had us playing extensively down the wings, and then cutting the ball infield around the half-way line, and then getting it out to the wings again in the final third. There were also some really terrific through balls in the last third. We were creating chances easily with our second string guys, who had been drilled pretty good these past 3 weeks.

I also liked that we used a high press to try to recover the ball, and dealt well with the press when Panama employed it against. Not too many unforced errors.

In terms of composure on the sidelines. I liked Berhalter's demeanor a lot. He didn't get too excited. He was active, shouting positional and tactical instructions all game long from the touch line, but when we scored, there were no hugs of the assistants, no fist pumps for the fans. Business like. That can be good to establish a culture kind of like the Yankees have in baseball - we're all business - but somewhere down the line, it will be interesting to see if it's in his personality to turn it up to 11 in a big moment.

Overall, we played 5 new kids, even from the group Saracen ran through the program, and a couple of them played really well. That kid Djordje Mihailovic was excellent. He made a couple Frank Lampard like late runs to the box, one of which got him his goal. He has great composure for a kid playing his first game for the national team. It was no surprise that Berhalter said Mihailovich was the best player in the camp pre-game. It showed. The kid has a lot of promise.

The kid who played the right back position, Corey Baird, had a very good game. I hope we see more of him, even if it is just to push DeAndre Yedlin. I really liked Walker Zimmerman in central defense, too. He had a very composed game, has a great physical presence, and his header was taken with authority.

Gyasi Zardes missed a couple chances and does not look like a natural fit at center forward. I like him better on the wing. I liked Jeremy Ebobisse on the left wing. He looks like a player. It was a pretty promising start. I am looking forward to the next match against Costa Rica, and then the games in the next official international break in March. That will be the first time we see who the "first team" is, at least for the time being.

This is what we were always promised under Klinsmann - possession based attacking football where the players have the freedom to express themselves. Klinsmann had quite a while and never got it close to this. Of course, tactical acumen was not Jurgen's strength. So I am cautiously optimistic.

Anybody else watch the game? I'd love to hear your thoughts as we start the Berhalter Era.
 
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DeGrozz

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We were talking about it here:

USMNT thread - 2018

I tried to tell people while they were handwringing over Berhalter - he is a very good, hands on coach. He’s not rolling the ball out there like Klinny did. I loved a few times we played the ball out of the back, overloaded one side of the field and basically were running predestined plays to move the ball up to our wings in positions where they could try to make something happen. We never did that before as a team.
 

NailstheCusefan12

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Another young American going to learn at an excellent academy. Article says he’s starting training with the U-23’s then will join the U-19 side. Worked well for Chris Richards and I’m hoping Booth has similar success. The talent pool is absolutely growing at the right time for Berhalter.
 

DeGrozz

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Another young American going to learn at an excellent academy. Article says he’s starting training with the U-23’s then will join the U-19 side. Worked well for Chris Richards and I’m hoping Booth has similar success. The talent pool is absolutely growing at the right time for Berhalter.
Gio Reyna officially joins Dortmund too.

I don't ever remember this many Yanks going to big 5 leagues. Great step in the right direction -- especially with so many coming from MLS academies.
 

NailstheCusefan12

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Gio Reyna officially joins Dortmund too.

I don't ever remember this many Yanks going to big 5 leagues. Great step in the right direction -- especially with so many coming from MLS academies.
25 Young MNT Players (16-21) To Be Excited About
He’s a nice list of the best young American prospects. Definitely some intriguing prospects at some excellent academies. Hoping Bello is the real deal because we need a LB in the worst way.
 

storange

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A little off topic but MLS Cup final
at MB stadium 73,000 plus
Superbowl 70,000 plus. I'm sure tickets were about 10x for SB. But interesting none the less.
My thoughts on Berhalter is that his team's are always well prepared and very steady
But MLS is not USMNT.
 

upperdeck

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thought the costa rica game was interesting in the 2nd half.. fun to see a US team pressing forward so hard and get rewarded
 

DeGrozz

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Should this be the USMNT 2019 thread? All in favor say Aye.

Aye.

Anyway, lots of American youth getting some run in the very early stages of MLS play -- some due to stretched rosters with CCL, some who may really get an opportunity to compete.

LAG/DAL just played 4 or 5 US U20s -- don't get that too often, so hopefully its a good sign that our youths will be on a bigger showcase going forward this season.
 

NailstheCusefan12

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Got a chance to watch John Brooks yesterday. He’s been an absolute rock at the back for Wolfsburg and it’s really nice to be reminded of how good he is when he’s fully fit. They got boat raced by a surging Bayern at the Allianz but they’ve been one of the best defensive sides in the league (particularly against set pieces). He has to be one of our CBs when WC qualifying rolls around.

Also been sick with the flu all weekend so got a chance to binge Sunderland Til I Die on Netflix. Was hoping to see more of Lynden Gooch but they were more reliant on older players while trying to survive relegation from the Championship. He did just sign a 4 year extension at Sunderland and he’s featuring regularly for them in League One. They should be back in the Championship next season but that table is unpredictable. If you want to see a crazy bottom half of a table, the battle for survival in League One is nuts. The entire bottom 10 is in danger of falling into the drop zone if results go against them on a weekend.
 

DeGrozz

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We've got a roster for our March friendlies:

Berhalter Names 24-Player Roster for March Matches Against Ecuador and Chile

Pretty strong overall (for what we have available and I don't hate letting Weah/Sargent stay with their teams right now -- they're obviously ahead of Lewis/Arriola/Zardes. Let them fight for PT at their clubs).

Raul Ruidiaz is really playing well off of Jordan Morris right now in Seattle -- I wonder if this group will play a little more direct in March and try to run our smaller attacking midfielders and forwards off of balls Morris is knocking down for them. Berhalter played on US teams that did that constantly throughout his career.
 

NailstheCusefan12

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Like the options we have to mix in some European based guys with MLS guys. I feel like a John Brooks/Aaron Long partnership could be really effective at the back.
 

DeGrozz

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Looks like coach wants to get McKennie, Bradley, Adams, and Pulisic all on the field at the same time.

I don’t think we’ve ever seen a pseudo RB with the USMNT before — could be a really interesting tactic for us going forward.
 

NailstheCusefan12

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I can see him succeeding in a role like Joshua Kimmich plays but his crossing skills will need to improve significantly.
 

DeGrozz

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I can see him succeeding in a role like Joshua Kimmich plays but his crossing skills will need to improve significantly.
I don't think his crossing will be an issue with the role that Berhalter is looking for him to play. Essentially, when we have the ball you're going to see Adams move from the RB position to an interior deeper lying midfielder role with he and McKennie playin in front of a flat 3 across the back. His primary responsibility offensively will be to try to combine with Yedlin to free him up out wide (now with Yedlin moving to a wide midfield role with us), to maintain possession, and to try to win the ball back quickly in the midfield after turnovers (much like was his forte playing for the Red Bulls). I'm not sure he'll need to consistently push as high as Kimmich does (or at least I think he does -- I only watch BM occasionally). I gotta be honest though -- that's my interpretation of his role based on just a few minutes of Berhalter's interviews, so who knows what we end up actually seeing. I could be way off.

What I think we lose is a consistent disruptive presence in the midfield after we shift back to our 4-3-3 defensively.
 

Shrmdougluvr

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I don't think his crossing will be an issue with the role that Berhalter is looking for him to play. Essentially, when we have the ball you're going to see Adams move from the RB position to an interior deeper lying midfielder role with he and McKennie playin in front of a flat 3 across the back. His primary responsibility offensively will be to try to combine with Yedlin to free him up out wide (now with Yedlin moving to a wide midfield role with us), to maintain possession, and to try to win the ball back quickly in the midfield after turnovers (much like was his forte playing for the Red Bulls). I'm not sure he'll need to consistently push as high as Kimmich does (or at least I think he does -- I only watch BM occasionally). I gotta be honest though -- that's my interpretation of his role based on just a few minutes of Berhalter's interviews, so who knows what we end up actually seeing. I could be way off.

What I think we lose is a consistent disruptive presence in the midfield after we shift back to our 4-3-3 defensively.
We dont shift back into a 4-3-3 per GGG. We shift back into what he calls a 4-2-2-2 (the #10 and forward lead are the front two), then dual 8's, dual 6's, and a flat back four. Your point is still taken that Adams won't be in the middle of the field closing down space, winning balls, etc. while we defend.
 

NailstheCusefan12

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I don't think his crossing will be an issue with the role that Berhalter is looking for him to play. Essentially, when we have the ball you're going to see Adams move from the RB position to an interior deeper lying midfielder role with he and McKennie playin in front of a flat 3 across the back. His primary responsibility offensively will be to try to combine with Yedlin to free him up out wide (now with Yedlin moving to a wide midfield role with us), to maintain possession, and to try to win the ball back quickly in the midfield after turnovers (much like was his forte playing for the Red Bulls). I'm not sure he'll need to consistently push as high as Kimmich does (or at least I think he does -- I only watch BM occasionally). I gotta be honest though -- that's my interpretation of his role based on just a few minutes of Berhalter's interviews, so who knows what we end up actually seeing. I could be way off.

What I think we lose is a consistent disruptive presence in the midfield after we shift back to our 4-3-3 defensively.
Your last point is my biggest issue. He’s truly excellent in a box to box role and has been one of Leipzig’s best players as a direct replacement for a very good player in Naby Keita. Forcing a young star out of position is dangerous. We aren’t overflowing with midfield talent and the idea that we can lock in Adams and McKennie for the next 10-12 years and let them partner and boss the game in midfield was something I wanted to see. At the end of the day it’s just an experiment and if it fails he can always go back go the midfield.
 

DeGrozz

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Another ouch.

Pulisic looks pretty concerned about whatever that right leg injury was on the bench.
 

NailstheCusefan12

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I know he runs around a lot but I just don’t see the quality from Paul Arriola (as I type this he wins a ). Gyasi definitely likes playing for Berhalter and he’s been above average. I never need to see Omar Gonzalez again. A decent amount to like tonight against a pretty solid Chile squad. I think this setup and playing style can help us be really effective in the Hex.
 

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