Jurgen Klinsmann became known for advocating a more proactive style and more possession but at his introductory press conference, also in New York, seven years ago was careful not to commit to any style. Berhalter says he wants to build on his work with the Columbus Crew, developing a possession style. Given the current limitations in the team, that seems unrealistic.
U.S. possession (Fall 2018)
Brazil (0-2) 35.2%-64.8%
Mexico (1-0) 47.0%-53.0%
Colombia (2-4) 37.7%-62.3%
Peru (1-1) 31.6%-68.4%
England (0-3) 39.5%-60.5%
Italy (0-1) 26.5%-73.5%
“When I took over Columbus five years ago, if I would tell you the look of Columbus was going to be a possession-based team, you’d probably be asking similar questions,” Berhalter said. “My job, the job of the staff, is to work as hard as we can to give the players belief. We know they are quality players, and with direction and belief we can achieve our goals."
Given the lack of preparation time a national team has, Berhalter will face the challenge of getting his ideas across to his players.
“My job as a coach and our job as a staff is make it as simple as possible,” Berhalter said. “Our game is based on very simple principles, they’re not complicated principles. The training sessions are very straight forward. It’s easy for the players to pick up on it. To execute it at a high level does take some time, but it’s based on simple principles and I hope the group is able to appreciate that and I hope you’ll be able to see that when we play.”
Berhalter then set out how he wants the team to play.
“The idea is that we’re an attacking-based team that wants to create goal-scoring opportunities by disorganizing the opponent," he said. "We’ll do that in a number of different ways. Consistently over my time in Columbus we did it through build up, where we start the ball with the goalkeeper in the back, teams try to press us and we play it through them to create goal-scoring opportunities. We’re making the field big.
"Another way to do that is to use pressure. Whether we start in a mid-block or move into high pressure to force turnovers, win the ball and immediately create goal-scoring opportunities. The idea is that it’s a fluid style, the players are intent on breaking lines, playing through the opponent and creating goal-scoring opportunities.”
But Berhalter added that it can't be done in one manner.
"At times we could do a better job to change the tempo of the game instead of playing at such a high rhythm all the time," he said. "I think mixing that rhythm is going to be very important, especially at the international level and considering some of the climates you’re playing in. But we want to see ball circulation, breaking lines and goal-scoring opportunities. That should be the DNA of this team.”
No one should question Berhalter's lofty goals. Only time will tell how soon they can be implemented.