USA-Trinidad & Tobago: Revenge for Couva? 'Step by step' for Americans

The narrative is that Saturday's USA-Trinidad & Tobago game in Cleveland is a chance for revenge for the greatest loss in the history of American soccer.

For U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter, it's just the second game in the Gold Cup, a chance to clinch a berth in the quarterfinals, depending on the outcome of Saturday's first game in Group D, Panama-Guyana.

“For us,” said Berhalter, “I think it’s just step by step. Knowing that Trinidad & Tobago are a good opponent, we have an objective as a group right now to make it to the knockout rounds, and it’s step by step right now.”

Five Americans who played in the Oct. 10, 2017, game at Ato Boldon Stadium are on the U.S. Gold Cup roster. Ten members of the Soca Warriors are still around. T&T held the USA to a lone goal scored by Christian Pulisic at the start of the second half, but it held on for a 2-1 win, just its second in 10 games in the Hexagonal.

Couva Survivors:
Omar Gonzalez
Michael Bradley
Paul Arriola
Christian Pulisic
Jozy Altidore

Trinidad & Tobago:
Adrian Foncette
Daneil Cyrus
Shahdon Winchester
Khaleem Hyland
Curtis Gonzales
Levi Garcia
Joevin Jones
Alvin Jones
Kevan George
Leston Paul

Berhalter respects what Dennis Lawrence, who remains T&T coach, has done with the Soca Warriors and considers them a good test for his team that has struggled to break down opponents. That was the case in March when the USA had a huge edge in possession against Ecuador but needed a fluke goal from Gyasi Zardes to win, 1-0.

“They’re a tough team to break down,” Berhalter said of T&T. “They’re good at staying tight in a low block defensively, and they’ve got a lot of experience within their squad. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”

To do that, Berhalter says the same thing he has said since taking over the USA in December.

“Speed of ball movement will be key,” he said. “Getting in behind their backline, trying to put balls in between their back line and their goalkeeper, really putting pressure on their defense.”
16 comments about "USA-Trinidad & Tobago: Revenge for Couva? 'Step by step' for Americans".
  1. frank schoon, June 22, 2019 at 8:19 a.m.

    “ Speed of ball movement will be key,” he said. “Getting in behind their backline, trying to put balls in between their back line and their goalkeeper, really putting pressure on their defense.”. UNBELIEVABLE!!!   This is the good old English style of play, punch that ball behind the fullback line which is the fastest and most simplest way to the opponent’s goal. That is what Jackie Charlton employed when he coached Ireland at the World Cup. What are you going to do when the opponent’s park the bus and there is no space behind the back line.
    This why England really doesn’t need midfield talent. It is only because foreign players coming to play in England that some their style has changed but deep down in the English DNA this what they live for. This is why a great player ,midfielder, Glenn Hoddle was in the English eyes a dud but to the rest of the world a great player.
    This is why our style of play needs to change to a higher level of play but definitely NOT be initiated by GB, who sees speed ,running , going for the space the opponent’s back is the tactic for his team. And this why we see so many running ,with foam on their mouths hustling their butts off. No, intelligent play, good technical play will not be seen or nurtured. BG does not have the capability to play a more sophisticated style for as a player he was just a simple fullback playing under a simple concept which is to stop his man.
    The US needs a drastic do over in their thinking of how soccer is played. I would to fire Earney Stewart for hiring GB, instead hire someone who was successful and who has played at the highest level and has the capability of teaching a higher level game. The MLS has begun to do that by bringing in Tata, and Frank de Boer, Now if only the USSF wise up and follow that trend not only on the men but also for the women’s NATIONAL TEAM.

  2. don Lamb replied, June 22, 2019 at 11:02 a.m.

    frank - Your interpretation of Berhalter's comments is deceiving you. He does not play a direct, English style. As far as evaluating his player selection, his honeymoon period is still in effect. We will have to wait a few more months for some of our top young prospects to become full fledged pros, and then we can make a better assessment of who he truly rates for the long term as the program continues in this new era.

  3. Nick Gabris, June 22, 2019 at 10:59 a.m.

    Good comment Frank! Totaly agree! Tab Ramos, Jurgen Klinsman?

  4. Nick Gabris, June 22, 2019 at 11:01 a.m.

    Does anyone know if Tab Ramos was ever seriously considered for MNT?

  5. beautiful game, June 22, 2019 at 11:39 a.m.

    More imporant is purpose and efficacy of ball movement. 

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, June 22, 2019 at 3:40 p.m.

    Agreed, and I was going to add positioning (i.e., movement off the ball). Intelligent movement off the ball can make playing in tight spaces look simple, while poor movement off the ball makes play impossibly difficult.

    I would rather say that player development needs to focus more on "fundamentals" than "technical" because many people think of "technical" to be just ball skills.

    Playing in tight spaces well is about groups of players performing fundamentals perfectly under heavy pressure. As coaches we all know how to build progressive training.

    I used to love watching Barca play through the attacking third and referred to it as playing with 4 playmakers (no. 10s).

  7. frank schoon replied, June 22, 2019 at 4:11 p.m.

    Bob, you're right to clarify technique, it is fundamentals with nice move here and there. So many people think that having good techniques means fancy moves....
    Cruyff's definition of having great technique, for instance, ifsto be place a perfect 10meter pass with right the speed at the correct foot..WHICH IS DIFFICULT.  At Barcelona he divided the team in two groups facing other 10meters apart ,in couples , and made them pass back and forth to'd be surprised how quickly a pass is not perfect...This is why he states Soccer is a simple but that is the most difficult to play. This is what he stated about Zlatan...' he has great technique for a lousy player but lousy technique for a great player........

  8. frank schoon, June 22, 2019 at 11:54 a.m.

    The American players are not good in small spaces, as a matter fact we also have difficulty in short combinational passing play in small spaces. We don't have the technique and touch for that. But what  we are good at is Athletic prowess, willing to run those miles and hard work...this is really the  sum of our capabilities,  playing a simple , hard working, counter attacking soccer style and for that we need space , lots of space to attack in. GB knows that and he knows the most space we have and close to the opponent's goal is behind the backline and therefore we want to get there as fast as possible. When you are technically handicapped, like English players, this is the best you can do. 
    The problem  is what happens when the opponents play a park the bus strategy....WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO FOR SPACE TO RUN INTO when there is none behind the defenders. This is why we have to change our style of play and development of our players, probably 180degrees , in order for that  to settle in quicker. It will take time and we'll take our lumps but we have to strive for a higher level play.
    We need to begin to get serious with our soccer and bring in great quality coaches and retired former great players to initiate this change.
    Nick , I understand where you're coming from and we agree on a lot of things and I like Ramos and have lot respect for him but he will not be the answer to our problems. He could definitely help us out. For example , If we hire a Frank de Boer as national team coach, let us say, then De Boer should pick Ramos as one of the assisstant coaches for him to learn. Look Ramos is the best we have  in America relatively speaking but he would be a nobody in European standards coaching and training circuit, just like Bradley. We need to bring in the best as much possible first from abroad to initiate this new change. We did that in the beginning in our soccer development ,bringing great players, with the NASL. Now it is time to this with coaches and trainers...

  9. Seth Vieux replied, June 22, 2019 at 12:43 p.m.

    If there’s one thing we definitely agree on Frank, it’s the need to change the way we learn to play in this country. Since getting back into coaching several years ago I can tell you there are a lot of coaches out there really focusing on technical development in a way we didn’t in the past. For sure there isn’t close the critical mass of coaching needed across the board, but it’s happening in a much more significant way than in the past. I think we’re starting to see the leading edge of the more technically capable American players at around the 19-20 year old age. I think the number of players trained to be technically sound enough to pursue a new style of play are growing in the year groups behind them too, but we’ll need a lot more coaches capable of putting the improved capability to good tactical use. I think we’re slowly moving in the right direction and see many teams from U10-U18 playing a far more advanced style of soccer than we used to see (acknowledging it’s a low bar). For sure the old direct english way is far from dead, but watching youth competitive soccer in the higher divisions is miles ahead of where it used to be. That also makes it frustrating when you see our national team not leading the way.

  10. R2 Dad replied, June 22, 2019 at 1:38 p.m.

    "The American players are not good in small spaces"
    What I'm hearing is "Players selected for the USMNT player pool are not good in small spaces."
    I thought Tab's team was pretty good in that regard--certainly a step up from the full men's side.
    But yeah, regarding these guys in the article, not so much....

  11. frank schoon replied, June 22, 2019 at 2:50 p.m.

    Seth, that is perhaps true more coaches  are realizing the importance  technique but how many emphasize learning to play in small spaces for example, that's a whole different aspect. Don't associate of emphasizing learning and working on technical skills with spatial things for that is a step higher. For example ,Ajax in the early 90's was warned by Cruyff that their development was not good. The coaches and trainers had a field day laughing at Cruyff for they pointed at the success Ajax was having with van Gaal. And ofcourse Ajax has always been known for its technical players and philosophy, what gives? Well Cruyff , was right as what happened to Ajax and Dutch for the past 20years. What I'm saying is that there is a lot more to just the increase in emphases on technique by the new crop of coaches....
    Watching our National team players being picked is still a close representation of the type of players we in general produce....
    R2, I watched them, they have some talent but to say they are good in small spaces is a stretch. 

  12. frank schoon replied, June 22, 2019 at 4:01 p.m.

    Seth, when I coached or give clinics to teams I never employed full field. When I coached in High School I would pick 23 players and let them play 11v11 half field with full goals. The kids complained it was to tight and not enough to play space soccer. I took both teams by one of the corner flags and packed them together as tight as possible. I'd say together they took up about 9 square yards. Then I told them to look at all the space they have available out there. I took all of 2 weeks for them to get use to it. The game was much faster, thinking and anticipation , and any mistakes made was quickly taken advantage of. When I wanted to switch back to playing full field the kids protested for they found fullfield play too boring and too slow... I have always held my practice in small contained area of the soccer. The hispanics adults loved coming to my practices for pickup games for I only used about a third or smaller part of the field and they could have the rest to use.
    Or create a square field of about 20steps by 20 steps. Then  play keep away 4 vs 10 or 12. You will be  surprised how quick those 4 players will get the ball. Keep playing all season during practice and you will see the improvement. And when they get better increase it to 5. 
    Or 10 v 4 in small box as before and the 4 all they have to do is tag you if you have the all. This also improves speed of play. 
    Or a player must dribble or touch at 3 times before he is allowed...this likewise increases speed as well as shielding on the dribble

  13. frank schoon replied, June 22, 2019 at 4:02 p.m.

    must dribble the ball at 3x before he is allowed to pass

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, June 22, 2019 at 5:51 p.m.

    Frank your comments reminded me that I gained a lot of insight, into how (the style) Barca played and Brazil too for that matter, from playing indoor soccer on small courts about the size of a futsal field. When a long run was only 3 steps, it forced me to play much smarter and more accurately and I could not rely on quickness to beat markers.

    Growing up playing in tight spaces really makes you think differently about the outdoor game and see opportunities which otherwise would not have been appreciated.

    The possession game is a great way to dominate an opponent with superior athletic ability.

  15. frank schoon replied, June 22, 2019 at 6:22 p.m.

    Bob, you got it....

  16. Garrett Isacco, June 22, 2019 at 1:23 p.m.

    Revenge for what. The USA game plan and performance in T&T in 2017 was deplorable and we didn't deserve to win. That is not T&T's fault. They executed their game plan to perfection and were the better team that day. The USA can't expect to walk on the pitch and have the other team just lie down, that isn't reality.
    I think we will win this evening because we have better personnel but we have to perform. Victory is not a given and if you don't believe me, ask Hondorous.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications