USA-Cuba: Gregg Berhalter's first year as U.S. coach ends far off the beaten path

The USA closes out its first year under new head coach Gregg Berhalter far off the beaten path when it faces Cuba in their Concacaf Nations League finale in the Cayman Islands.

Thanks to the 4-1 win over Canada on Friday, the USA will win Group A and advance to the Concacaf Nations League semifinals with a win. A tie or loss to Cuba will give Canada the group title and a berth at the final four in June 2020.

The USA is 10-5-2 in 2019, making Berhalter the second fastest U.S. national team coach to win 10 games after Bob Bradley under whom the USA started out with a 10-0-1 record, culminating with the 2-1 win over Mexico to win the 2017 Gold Cup.

Unlike most FIFA breaks when the USA releases players to return to their European clubs after the first game, all 23 whom Berhalter selected for the Canada game are with the national team in the Cayman Islands.

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Brad Guzan (Atlanta United; 63/0), 23-Sean Johnson (NYCFC; 8/0), 22-Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 0/0)
DEFENDERS (9): 5-John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 38/3), 20-Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 9/0), 18-Sergiño Dest (Ajax/NED; 3/0), 12-Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 9/0), 3-Aaron Long (NY Red Bulls; 15/3), 16-Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact; 12/0), 13-Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 39/1), 2-DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 61/0), 4-Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 11/2)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 17-Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 13/2), 8-Weston McKennie (Schalke 04/GER; 18/6), 15-Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 15/0), 10-Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 18/0), 6-Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; 20/0), 14-Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 5/0)
FORWARDS (5): 7-Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 31/5), 21-Tyler Boyd (Besiktas/TUR; 9/2), 11-Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 38/8), 19-Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 11/3), 9-Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; 55/12)
Note: In parentheses are goals and assists.

Venue. The USA won the first meeting against Cuba with a 7-0 victory and wlll be heavily favored in the rematch, which was moved from Havana because Pedro Marrero Stadium doesn't meet Concacaf's hosting requirements due to the lack of lights for evening television broadcasts.

The match will be played at 3,000-seat Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town, on Grand Cayman Island, the largest of the Cayman Islands located west of Cuba.

In soccer circles, the Cayman Islands is best known as the home of former Concacaf president Jeffrey Webb, who has been awaiting sentencing for four years after pleading guilty to soliciting and accepting nearly $7 million in bribes.

Opponent. Cuba has been depleted by defections on its trips to the United States and Canada for the Gold Cup and Concacaf Nations League. It's lost all six games in the two competitions by a margin of 31-0.
7 comments about "USA-Cuba: Gregg Berhalter's first year as U.S. coach ends far off the beaten path".
  1. frank schoon, November 19, 2019 at 8:07 a.m.

    I hope Cuba can field a team.....

  2. Frans Vischer replied, November 19, 2019 at 11:44 a.m.

    Very funny, Frank!

  3. Ralph Leftwich, November 19, 2019 at 10:31 a.m.

    Cayman is south of all of Cuba, but only somewhat west of a part of Cuba.  If you need to pick a direction to describe then south would be better.

  4. Gordon Holt, November 19, 2019 at 2:13 p.m.

    Paul... Would it be too much to ask that, in your advances, you include date and time..and possibly the tv outlet. Please don't assume that the separate tv-schedule list does the job. We know the last game was Friday. When is the Cuba game? Tonight?  Tomorrow?  ?? I do appreciate your work.. which is why I subscribe.  Just lift it a tad. 

  5. frank schoon replied, November 19, 2019 at 6:53 p.m.

    The game is tonight 7:30 FS1

  6. Wooden Ships, November 19, 2019 at 5:56 p.m.

    I'm going to watch, because I've followed our team(s) since I was a little kid in St Louis. But, I got to tell you, my excitement for our national teams is seriously on the wane. It's due to several factors. If GB insists on playing some of these guys that are barely capable of competing with CONCACAF teams and have no higher ceiling than what we've seen for a few years now, I just don't know what I'll do. Some of the USSF/MLS/SUM members are insufferably arrogant. I dealt with some of this closed rank nonsense back in the day. Our federation hasn't learned jack since its inception. Anybody care to defend Zardes as our scoring leader going forward? I dare you.

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, November 22, 2019 at 5:40 p.m.

    The only thing I will say about Zardes is that I appreciate his best efforts and it isn't his fault that the coach picked them. Zardes isn't even playing in his best position. He isn't a CF. He is better on the wing where he can run at the goal and has more space for his touches. There is, however, better choices for wingers which is why you won't see him on the wing any more.

    The problem is not the player. The problem is the coach's view of the game. Now that isn't even the case since USSF "makes all the tactical decisions", not the coach. It is USSF that is running the program and I fear they are making a mess of the MNT program and going to run the WNT program into the ground the same way.

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