Gregg Berhalter bemoans lack of world-class striker as USA exit World Cup

<span>Photograph: Martin Meissner/AP</span>
Photograph: Martin Meissner/AP

Gregg Berhalter bemoaned his team’s lack of a world-class finisher as the United States were knocked out of the World Cup by the Netherlands on Saturday.

The US failed to finishing off promising attacks in all four of their games at the World Cup, and many have pointed to the team’s lack of a clinical striker as the reason they failed to progress. Jesus Ferreira, Haji Wright and Josh Sargent led the line at different times for the US in Qatar but none of them posed any real threat to opposing defenders.

Related: Netherlands into quarter-finals after Dumfries volley caps win against USA

“What I would say is, when you look at the difference, to me there was offensive quality that the Netherlands had that we’re lacking a little bit,” said Berhalter after the match.

“It’s normal. We have a young group, players beginning their careers and we’ll catch up to that, but we don’t have a Memphis Depay right now, who plays at Barcelona and has played in the Champions League for years. Those are not excuses, that stuff is going to come.”

The Dutch, on the other hand, were ruthless when presented with chances during their 3-1 victory. The US defence had been solid this World Cup but they were less robust on Saturday. Berhalter said lapses cost the US.

“It’s just moments that the players were [switched] off a little bit here and there and it ends up in the back of the net,” he said. “When you play at this level, against high quality opponents, that’s what happens. It’s unfortunate that it happens in the knockout game, but it did and we’ve got to learn from it.”

Despite the team’s defeat the USA coach said he was pleased with his team’s progress.

“When you look at our team, there’s a very clear identity of what we’re trying to do. You have a group that’s extremely committed to each other in what they’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “We have a very young group, we have players that are beginning in their careers and they’re going to catch up to that. It’s not to make an excuse for this group, they’re still very resilient. That stuff will come.”

The US will co-host the World Cup in 2026 and Berhalter said there are good things to come with players such as Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie making up a strong young core for the Americans.

“I think this group is close,” he said. “To be fielding the youngest starting XIs in the World Cup four times in a row, to still play the way we are, the American public should be optimistic.”

Berhalter would not be drawn on whether he would coach the US in 2026.

“I’ve only been focused on the World Cup, achieving things with this group,” he said. “In the next couple of weeks, I’ll clear my head and think about what’s next.”