What can you learn from a 7-0 blowout? A game that began with four goals in the first 13 minutes?
Plenty, says U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter.
The USA picked apart Cuba, a
shadow of the team that reached the quarterfinals of the 2013 and 2015 Gold Cups after a host of new defections.
Weston McKennie made it look easy with his first hat trick for the USA -- and the fastest hat trick from the start of a game for the USA
-- with goals in the first, ninth and 13th minutes.
But the Schalke 04 player's production in the penalty area -- the first goal followed a late run, the second and third goals were easy
tap-ins from inside the six-yard box -- was exactly why Berhalter has repeatedly said he wants him playing in an advanced midfield role rather than as a holding midfielder.
you look at goals of top teams," Berhalter said, "a lot of the goals are coming from forwards and wingers. When you have a midfielder that can score goals and arrive in the penalty box like that, it
gives you another dimension. It makes your team that much better. I’m really happy with Weston’s performance, more so, though, his interpretation of the concepts and using the right
moments to arrive in the box, but also get behind the back line. All those things were good.”
McKennie's first two goals were set up by Jordan Morris, who finished
with one goal and three assists, tying a U.S. national team record in that category.
“I thought Jordan was fantastic with his movement behind the back line," said Berhalter.
Perhaps the biggest winner on the evening was midfielder Jackson Yueill. Michael Bradley, who will be expected to start against Canada on Tuesday in Toronto, did not play, while
Wil Trapp, who has played 18 games for the USA in 2018 and 2019 and was Berhalter's holding midfielder at the Columbus Crew, did not dress. Berhalter used Yueill as an
example of what he looks for in terms of the movements of his players, the timing, the touches, the body preparation.
“You see for example Jackson as the game went on," he said. "He
was getting more comfortable in his positioning, in his body shape turning, in playing forward. I thought he did an excellent job of figuring out how he needed to execute his position."