Gregg Berhalter on Pulisic, Morris and Hoppe

One of the jobs of a national team coach is to track the progress of his players, whether they are playing at home or abroad, whether it is in the stands or on television.

No U.S. national team coach has ever watched more players break through on his watch at major European clubs than Gregg Berhalter.

Over the weekend, two Americans, Tyler Adams and Josh Sargent, scored in the Bundesliga, and a third, Weston McKennie, scored in Serie A. And a pair of Americans, Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie, made their European debuts for teams battling for the Austrian and Belgian league leads. Only one of them, McKennie, is even 22.

"We're always talking about it," Berhalter said of following players abroad while the national team has been training in Florida ahead of Sunday's friendly against Trinidad & Tobago. "We're one big group, one big brotherhood that we have here. So when guys are doing things abroad, of course we're talking about it. And when they're scoring goals like Weston did this week, or they're making their debuts like Brenden and Mark did this weekend, of course, we're talking about it. We're supporting them from afar, and it's been fun to watch all the progress that our players have been making."

Berhalter talked about three players and their situations:

Christian Pulisic and his likely new Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel. "For Christian, I think the benefit is, if Tuchel [who coached Pulisic at Borussia Dortmund] is the coach, that he knows him very well and that's always important. He's coming in with a really good understanding of what Christian can do and his skill set,  and I think that's important. He also has seen Christian develop and improve over his time at Dortmund and, for Christian, it's the familiarity with how he coaches, his coaching staff, his communication style. That's all helpful. There's not that uncomfortable period when you're getting to know the coach. I think those could possibly be the benefits."

"In terms of [fired Chelsea manager Frank [Lampard] not being the coach anymore, it's a really tough business. Chelsea is a top club and they expect wins in all of the games that they play and it's very difficult for managers to deal with that. It's never a nice thing when a colleague loses his job. In terms of the replacement, if it's Tuchel, we do have relationships with that staff and I'm sure we'll be able to pick up right where we left off."

Jordan Morris and loan move to Swansea City. "We have a good relationship with the coaching staff at Swansea and we had long conversations about what they want to achieve this year and how they're going to use Jordan. And I think that he's going to be in good hands. This is a player that played a long time at Seattle and when you see how Seattle handled it, I think it's an example to a lot of clubs and MLS of how to handle a player that's been loyal to your club and and kind of repay some of that loyalty.

"This is what Jordan was striving for. And for Jordan, this is an opportunity now to help his team potentially get promoted and that's a great achievement in soccer. The automatic promotion is one thing, and the [promotion] playoff game is the most expensive game in the world, right? So this will be a great challenge for Jordan, a great challenge for the club of Swansea, to see if they can get into the Premier League this year."

Matthew Hoppe and his breakout at Schalke 04. 
"It's been great watching him play. It's really exciting to see a young player from any country do what he has been doing in the Bundesliga last couple of weeks [five goals in his last four games]. That's been really fun. I have been able to watch his games. I have been able to give him some feedback. It's just about for him to keep going.

"We don't need to get ahead of ourselves. A player establishes himself by performing at this level. It's great to see him reach these heights and now he needs to maintain it. And if he does that, I'm sure he'll get an opportunity with the national team."

11 comments about "Gregg Berhalter on Pulisic, Morris and Hoppe".
  1. beautiful game, January 26, 2021 at 9:59 a.m.

    Let's see if, how and when coach GB makes firm decisions on player selections based on consistency of play and team cohesion.

  2. John DiFiore replied, January 26, 2021 at 8:12 p.m.

    Exactly BG!!  I'm actually tired of the "must be consistent", and earn your way through the ranks.. My God, how many players have we let fall through the cracks during development?  If Hoppe is in top form, take him for Christ's sake..

  3. Kevin Leahy, January 26, 2021 at 10:06 a.m.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many coaches that, get fired continue to get hired again. Tuchel is a perfect example! He won't last @ Chelsea either.

  4. R2 Dad replied, January 26, 2021 at 10:34 a.m.

    It's also true that no one lasts at Chelsea. Previous managers include almost every top name in the sport, who were all unceremoniously dumped at varying stages of the season. This speaks more to the normalization of crazy owner behavior than anything else. " If only I could find the right whip-cracker to flog the right horses, I can still win the Calgary Stampede this year."

  5. Seth Vieux replied, January 26, 2021 at 4:08 p.m.

    Agreed on both of your points. Tuchel has a pretty poor reputation in his interpersonal style, but you can't deny that he's been successful for a long time in the one area that Chelsea's ownership value most: winning no matter the rest. I was hoping (though not expecting) that Lamps would be given some more patience as an apparent long term plan for Chelsea, but it has been painful to watch the last two months and not many indications it was getting turned back around. Will be interesting to see what changes Tuchel makes at this point, but it's hard to imagine getting any worse results than the last two months.

  6. Seth Vieux replied, January 27, 2021 at 5:18 p.m.

    Sure looked like more of the same for Chelsea today.

  7. Ben Myers, January 26, 2021 at 12:59 p.m.

    Berhalter has said some positive and encouraging words about these three, but he will reveal his true colors and player selection acumen when he picks the team for the far more serious Hexagonal, or whatever Concacaf decides to do with World Cup qualifiers.  Our country now has an impressive number of young blue-chip players playing regularly at the top level in Europe.  To exclude any one of them in favor of more pedestrian MLS players would be cause for Berhalter's dismissal.  I'm saying this when I think of Jozy Altidore, brought back for the next friendlies.  He, like Michael Bradley, has never been able to prove himself able to do well at the world level, because he is simply not technical enough.  It is possible both to build a team for the future and to succeed in the present with the collection of elite young players available.

  8. Seth Vieux replied, January 26, 2021 at 4:16 p.m.

    I definitely hear what you're saying, but Jozy may be the only legacy player I think has a reason to still be included. He's been far from perfect, but when healthy he has been a more than serviceable striker for the USMNT for a long time, and IF he stays healthy and can find his previous form I don't think any of the many young strikers starting to emerge have done anything remotely enough to be considered our clear first choice #9. I am assuming that one of them will over the next year, but don't see any reason why Jozy wouldn't be given the opportunity to show that he is still our best 9, especially when so much of the rest of the group are so young. I'm a big Dortmund supporter, and they have also been in a nightmare of a two month slump while having loads of talent. But the results aren't there because on the whole the squad is too young and too inexperienced. I see some simliliar issues for the USMNT over the next few years where there's just not quite enough veteran experience across the entire lineup to really gut out the tough games. If Sargent, Hoppe, Giochanni, Soto, or any other young striker seize the reins and just cannot be denied in competition with Jozy I'm all for it, but I keep pretty close tabs on them and all are still very much in the phase of their careers where they are trying to establish themselves.

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, January 27, 2021 at 3:23 a.m.

    One qualifier. CONCACAF qualifiers are entirely different matches from those played in Europe. The best word to describe them is brutal. It isn't just the hostile crowds. Field conditions in away matches are poor. On top of that, CONCACAF opponents select many of their players from MLS and lower US leagues. Aside from Mexico, the opponents are not finesse teams.

    So the question is not whether the MLS players would do well in Europe, but rather can they dominate a CONCACAF opponent. That is the primary concern--dominating the CONCACAF opponents.

  10. R2 Dad replied, January 27, 2021 at 11:58 a.m.

    All the more reason for GB to pick an MLS kickball team for CONCACAF, to out-kickball their kickball teams. We just accept that all these teams we play against will kick our skill players, the fans will pelt our players with bags of urine, their facilities are crap by design, and refereeing standards are very lenient. Why? Other confederations are budget-constrained yet still allow fair play. Yet CONCACAF has not evolved with the sport.

  11. Ben Myers, January 26, 2021 at 6:37 p.m.

    Then friendlies are the time to give playing time to the young strikers!

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