Gregg Berhalter outlines 'exciting' look he sees for USA with young stars

Gregg Berhalter  has been quite forthright about what he is looking for in rebuilding the U.S. men's national team, what kind of system he wants to play and how players will fit into that system.

That makes his selection of 24 players for matches against Ecuador and Chile not much of a surprise.

The big questions were how he plans on playing his two most influential young players, Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams.

Pulisic has played mostly on the wing for Borussia Dortmund, but Berhalter wants to try him out as one of the two No. 10s in the midfield (where Djordje Mihailovic and Cristian Roldan played for the two winter friendlies) that also includes a No. 6 (Michael Bradley against Panama and Wil Trapp against Costa Rica).

“We want to find a spot where [Pulisic] can affect the game and he can get more out of his teammates and also put him in position to score goals and make assists,” Berhalter said. “In this camp, we’re going to look at him as the No. 10. As the No. 10 slanted to the left. We played with two No. 10s last camp, we’re going to do the same this camp. Within that structure, what you’ve seen is there is flexibility. When you look at last camp, you know, there’s times when the wingers go inside and the 10s going wide. So, we just want to see how that looks. We want Christian to be flexible. We want to take advantage of his 1-v-1, but we also want to get him in front of goal.”

Adams has been outstanding in the role of a holding midfielder for RB Leipzig, which is unbeaten in games he played since arriving in January, but he could also fit into the hybrid role Berhalter sees for one of his outside backs, moving central midfield when the USA has the ball.

“He can play the right back tucked in, naturally when you look at his skill set," Berhalter said. "He’s slanted to the right a lot with RB Leipzig, especially when he’s pulling out in the buildup to open up and get the ball but he can also play central midfield. For us, it’s going to be looking at him in one of those positions, evaluating him and moving forward.”

The third of the young U.S. stars in the Bundesliga is Weston McKennie, who has played everywhere for struggling Schalke 04, but would fit nicely as Pulisic's partner in the U.S. midfield, attacking as a No. 10 in the USA's 3-4-3 and defending as a No. 8 in its 4-4-2.

“If I’m thinking about Weston as a No. 10 who defends as a No. 8, or Christian as a No. 10 who can also move wide, or Tyler as a right back that can also come inside," Berhalter said, "those are the things that are exciting to me.”

23 Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge, BEL; 3/0)
29 Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 6/0)
23 Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew; 8/0)

26 John Brooks (Wolfsburg, GER; 36/3)
30 Omar Gonzalez (Atlas, MEX; 48/3)
24 Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 2/0)
26 Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 4/0)
27 Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact; 2/0)
23 Matt Miazga (Reading, ENG; 11/1)
31 Tim Ream (Fulham, ENG; 26/1)
25 DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United, ENG; 57/0)

20 Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig, GER; 9/1)
31 Michael Bradley (Toronto FC; 143/17)
26 Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 7/2)
20 Weston McKennie (Schalke 04, GER; 7/1)
20 Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund, GER; 23/9)
23 Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 7/0)
26 Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; 13/0)

24 Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 19/3)
23 Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 2/0)
21 Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC; 2/0)
24 Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 25/5)
27 Christian Ramirez (LAFC; 2/1)
27 Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; 42/6)

Photo: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire
4 comments about "Gregg Berhalter outlines 'exciting' look he sees for USA with young stars".
  1. Wooden Ships, March 13, 2019 at 10:58 a.m.

    I can get on board with his flexibility in roles in the middle. I don’t see MB or WT as dynamic and skilled enough as a dedicated 6. Neither do well under pressure and are slow to escape or make near enough positive passes. I like the idea of either Adams or Lima taking Yedlin’s spot as he provides decent defending but virtually nothing on the scoring effort.

  2. Bob Ashpole, March 13, 2019 at 11:41 a.m.

    Interesting, but formations and positions are not a style of play. I look forward to seeing the next 2 matches.

  3. Brad Matheny, March 14, 2019 at 12:24 a.m.

    I like what GB is doing and has done, and I trust in his (and the coaching staff’s) plan.

    That said, question:
    Where do 2 x number 10s, 1 x number 8 and 1 x number 6 fit in a 3-4-3 or a 4-4-2?

  4. R2 Dad, March 14, 2019 at 11:24 a.m.

    If "Adams has been outstanding in the role of a holding midfielder for RB Leipzig", why would be be played out of position?
    "“He can play the right back tucked in, naturally when you look at his skill set," Berghalter said, "because we can't possibly sit our primo backpasser Michael Bradley, despite his drooping form and creeping old age. We can't--I just love him too much. Plus, Leadership and stuff."

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