Do your best jig to celebrate the last training session of a month-long camp.February 1, 2019
Panama is a team struggling to rebuild after finishing last at the 2018 World Cup and fell easily, 3-0. Costa Rica will be a tougher test though the Ticos are also rebuilding under a new coach. Gustavo Matosas was born in Argentina but played internationally for Uruguay and is on his 16th stop in a 16-year coaching career.
Matosas, who led Leon to back-to-back Liga MX titles in 2013 and 2014 and Club America to the 2015 Concacaf Champions League title, only started training the Ticos in January, and they are also young and inexperienced.
"It's clearly going to be an improved opponent and it will be a good test for this group," Berhalter said. "I'm really happy with the progression of the team so far and this is just another test for us. It's increased competition and a good test for this group at this time."
He has said he won't make a lot of lineup changes for the sake of rewarding everyone for their work in a long camp. The games against Panama and Costa Rica aren't just about competition against Concacaf rivals, they are about competition for spots on the team next month when the full team will be available.
Berhalter reiterated that he has had the full team in mind when he has worked on the new style of play in camp over the last four weeks -- even if many of his first-team players have not been available.
"When we're deciding about the specifics of our formation and our roles and responsibilities at each position," he said, "we had in mind the larger group. We had in mind the whole pool we are dealing with. That's how we imagined this formation. We took some of the higher-profile players already into account. Having said that, it was also important to fit this group into it. When we called players into camp, we were very specific about what roles we thought they could fit into this system, and that's why some players were called in over other players."