USMNT - Greg Berhalter Takes Over

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IthacaMatt

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#1
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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#2
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.
 
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#3
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.
 
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#5
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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#6
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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#7
thought the costa rica game was interesting in the 2nd half.. fun to see a US team pressing forward so hard and get rewarded
 
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