With the final friendly of the
year set for Tuesday against Uruguay, the USA's focus is on the Celeste, one of the most difficult teams in the world to play against, but a lot of the attention at Monday's press conference was on
Friday's 3-0 loss to Mexico, its worst loss to its archrival in a decade.
U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter
came in for lots of criticism after the game for his selection of players --
players like Wil Trapp
, Gyasi Zardes
and even Zack Steffen
who played for him at the Columbus Crew had bad games -- and for his emphasis on trying to play the ball out of the
He says he understands the disappointment of fans.
"We are in this to win," he said. "Listen, let’s be fair to fans. That's why you play the game -- to win the
game. There's no question about it. I wasn't pleased after the game. It wasn't like I was in the locker room opening champagne bottles after the game. Not at all. But we have to look at what we wanted
to accomplish in that game and say, did we accomplish it? In some respects, we absolutely did; in others we failed. We need to analyze that. We have an obligation to the fans, the obligation is to win
games, to play good soccer and entertain them. We’re trying our best.”
Problems playing out of the back cost the USA on the second Mexico goal and could have cost it a few
“First of all, I wouldn’t get caught up on playing from behind," Berhalter said. "We want to play, to be able to break lines, we want to open up and disorganize the
opponent. It was a huge emphasis against Mexico in that game to show the guys they can do that, be brave against a high-pressing team like Mexico and you can succeed.”
He said the
results were a mixed bag.
"In the Gold Cup [final]," he said, "we were too direct and in this game we were not direct enough. We need to find that mix to be able to draw them and hurt
them when they are coming."
Berhalter expressed confidence in his players.
“The answer to do I believe the players have the ability is, yes, I think we do," he said. "I
think we have a large group of talented players. They are intelligent players, technically good players, and we’re going to develop and we’re going to keep developing. Don't forget it is a
very young team. We'll get there."
Berhalter said the players have bought into what the coaching staff is trying to work on with them.
"I think it's very clear to the players
what we want to do," he said, "and now it's just continuing to work on that. When we have conversations with the guys, when we do video sessions with the guys, it's really impressive how tied in they
are to what we are doing, how informed they are. The group's been great. We're come a long way since January."
Berhalter said it's easy to forget how young the team is.
"Don't forget, it's a very young team, and we'll get there," he said. "You're talking about a number of young players that could easily be the core of this team for the next eight years."
Berhalter said Uruguay will present a huge challenge, different from Mexico.
"It's a physically aggressive team,
a very compact team," he said. "The biggest challenge will be lack of space, how you have to process quickly, how you have to earn the space you get against them. In the penalty box, it is one of the
best teams I've seen defending."
One young player who will get a start against Uruguay is San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jackson Yueill
: "He's a very clean technical player A
player with good body shape. A good ability to cut through lines with his passing. Good long passing."
Likely to start in his hometown of St. Louis is 19-year-old forward Josh
: "I like his movement off the ball. I really like his finishing. I think inside the box is where he really shines. He's able to process goal-scoring opportunities very quickly and able to
make good contact with the ball on frame most times."