The USMNT drew 1-1 with Uruguay in St. Louis on Tuesday, as another disappointing international break came to a close for the U.S.
Well, if you ask head coach Gregg Berhalter, he has a very different opinion of where the U.S. men’s national team is at.
After being battered 3-0 by Mexico in a friendly in New Jersey last Friday, a much-changed USMNT fared a little better against an understrength Uruguay who were missing Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani among others.
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Speaking in his post-match press conference, Berhalter revealed that he believes his young team are taking the next steps in their development.
“We just played two different teams with two very important challenges,” Berhalter said. “Against CONCACAF teams we will play teams that are very compact [like Uruguay]. We have to understand how to break those teams down. Mexico was a totally different challenge. Mexico is a high-pressing, active team in front of a loud, boisterous crowd. Mexico presented us with good challenges but also good learning opportunities.”
Berhalter focused on the defensive structure, the quality of crosses and being dangerous from set pieces among the positives he saw, but the USMNT seem a long way from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar right now.
Aside from Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, John Brooks and Tyler Adams, how many USMNT players are guaranteed starters? Have these players grasped the ideas of ‘Berhalter Ball’ and his possession-first philosophy? How are the same mistakes, such as being caught on the counter, happening time and time again?
#USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter:
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) September 11, 2019
Ahead of the friendly against Uruguay Berhalter acknowledged that the USMNT fanbase isn’t happy with their current displays and results, but the way he wants his team to play will take time.
He’s now had just under 12 months and four training camps to implement his plan and with so many players in and out of each squad, it is tough to see the true identity of the USMNT yet.
In truth, Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has done it much quicker with the Mexican national team and that likely points to one simple thing: Mexico has better players than the USA right now.
That is the case, overall, and perhaps that is a reason to cut Berhalter some slack.
But USMNT fans are becoming increasingly fed up with a program which expects supporters to keep turning up game after game and be treated to decent displays against CONCACAF minnows, but then be totally outclassed when coming up against teams in the top 20.
This is a young USMNT side. We get it. But as we approach a year of Berhalter being in charge, how much further along are this U.S. side compared to when Dave Sarachan was placed in charge on an interim basis for 12 months and then departed last December?
The answer is not something U.S. Soccer or Berhalter will not want to think about much in the coming months, but it is a question which will be asked time and time again if results and, more importantly, performances do not start to improve.
For Berhalter and the USMNT, the pressure is on for their CONCACAF Nations League