Gregg Berhalter with a note of caution

No U.S. men's national team coach has never had the opportunity to work with a new wave of young stars like Gregg Berhalter.

When UEFA club play resumes next week, at least 10 Americans are likely to suit up in the Champions League and Europa League. Players have made splashes as some of the biggest names in European soccer: Tyler Adams at RB Leipzig, Sergino Dest at Barcelona, Weston McKennie at Juventus, Christian Pulisic at Chelsea and Gio Reyna at Borussia Dortmund.

None is older than 22.

The emergence of new talent since Berhalter took charge two years ago -- Dest and Reyna both made their pro debuts after he took charge in 2019 -- has certainly expanded the player pool he is looking at with World Cup 2022 qualifying less than seven months away.

"We probably have a group of 18 players we are really comfortable with," Berhalter said last week in an interview with Extratime.

But he added that many factors go into picking a team: form, performance and health.

"It's never in a state of finality," he said. "It's always open. You never know if the players are going to be fit or if they are going to be in form."

Berhalter was not speaking of any player in particular. But it certainly applies for the young players in the program. For all their promise, none of the USA's big five is yet considered an indispensable element in the lineup at his club, not even Pulisic, a $73 million transfer from Borussia Dortmund two years ago.

McKennie might be the closest this season, having been a revelation in midfield at Juventus. Adams has been in and out of the starting lineup at RB Leipzig, playing at right wing back and in central midfield. Reyna and Dest enjoyed fast starts in 2020-21 but have cooled down in the winter.

On the other hand, Tim Weah, injured for most of the 2019-20 season in France and not a factor for the first three months of the 2020-21 season, has been a key contributor in first-place Lille's hot run. Matthew Hoppe came out of nowhere to score five Bundesliga goals for Schalke 04 in January.

"The best message for players when it comes to the national team is they need to continually prove themselves," Berhalter said in his Extratime segment. "No one spot should be taken for granted."

McKennie photo: ImagePhoto/Imago/Icon Sportswire

13 comments about "Gregg Berhalter with a note of caution".
  1. beautiful game, February 8, 2021 at 9:09 a.m.

    This message by coach GB is a hollow reminder to those 18 players that "we feel comfortable with" some seven months before qualification starts. What about the fact that each and every training session for these American players abroad requires a daily fight to keep their place and starting position at their respective clubs.  

  2. John Polis, February 8, 2021 at 10:50 a.m.

    It's a much simpler task for fans to see how top U.S. players are performing because, for the first time, a large number of them are not just on rosters in Europe, a number of them are actually starting for top-level clubs. Fans are for sure going to be vocal about player selections with the national team, much more than previous World Cup cycles when only people on the very inside of the game could see how these players are faring with their clubs. The growth of television coverage, combined with the sudden ascendency of players into starting lineups, will reduce the element of surprise to fans when it comes to roster and team selection. My question about Berhalter is his relative inexperience coaching at the top international level and the requirements that an experienced, skillful hand will be required to guide and get the most out of America's "Busby Babes" in 2022 WC qualifing.

  3. Santiago 1314 replied, February 8, 2021 at 9:38 p.m.

    Well Stated John, Can He "Wind them Up" Like Lothar did, and Let them "Be Americans"(if they know How, is Debatable)... Hugo Perez said it very well in his Latest Article in SA... This is CONcaCACrApF ... It's not about which Team you play for in Europe, it's about Crappy Fields, Crappier Refs, Food Poisoning, and EVERYONE wanting to Beat UP the Yankees.!!! If this Group Of Players doesn't "GET IT",(Like The Last one) We will not Qualify for this Next World Cup either.!!!

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, February 9, 2021 at 2:31 a.m.

    Santiago, I suspect almost all of the regular posters here are well informed and would agree completely with what you said. No argument from me anyways.

    Not talking about the skills of the players now, but the qualitiy of play in CONCACAF has to be the worst in FIFA. At our current rate of improvement, CONCACAF may climb out of last place in 50 or 60 years. Right now the spirit of international play is closer alligned to the game prior to the 1863 rules when pushing, hacking and handling were often allowed. It is the ugly game rather than the beautiful game.

  5. Bob Ashpole, February 8, 2021 at 12:40 p.m.

    The Olympic qualifiers will be completely different as clubs are not required to release players. His failure to discuss the U23 team may indicate that USSF thinks it will be cancelled this year.

  6. Santiago 1314 replied, February 8, 2021 at 9:57 p.m.

    Bob, Your on the Right Path... The USSF lack of Importance on the Olympic Men's Soocer Team Qualification has led to a "DeAmericaniztion" of the "Team America" Concept... There is nothing like Defending the Red, White and Blue at the Olympics, In The Olympic Village with All the other Athletes Of The World Wanting To Beat you... This last Group lacked this Experience, and we Paid for it with NO World Cup Qualification.

  7. frank schoon, February 8, 2021 at 3:44 p.m.

     "Players have made splashes as some of the biggest names in European soccer". 
    PLEAZZZE.... The hyperbole is stunning...You pick up a dutch soccer, magazine, newspaper, or listen to a dutch soccer talk show those American boys, their names are never even mentioned.

    What the American soccer journalists consider as good players for American standards is to a European as no great shakes...Dest, who grew up in Holland, has been sitting on the bench just started a game again because of injuries. Pulisic, sofar with the new coach is not starting. Sargent ??
    McKennie, playing with a good team at midfield is doing OK, he's a water carrier for Ronaldo, he's learning. Reyna, is doing OK ,he's learning. These are considered some of the biggest  stars in European soccer....I think we need to get our of this so-called bubble , and begin to smell the coffee and be a little more realistic

  8. Santiago 1314 replied, February 8, 2021 at 9:43 p.m.

    Yes Frank, I'm an worried our "Bubble Babies" will be Buying into their US "Press Clippings"... Playing in CONcaCACrApF is Totally Different... It's as Close to "War" as you can get, on a Soccer Field.!!!

  9. frank schoon replied, February 9, 2021 at 9:41 a.m.

    Guys, LOOK. I"m sick and tired of hearing complaints about 'Concacrap'. You want to win this tournament, then this should work. Here's what we do at 'Concacrap'. We don't send our best but our WORST!!! We pick our best SH*T KICKERS, MUSCLE, who look at a ball like a piece of meat along with the opponent. I'm not looking for triangles, 3rd man off the ball,give and go's (which we can't do anyway), possession ball( which we can't do anyway), three completed passes in a row( which we can't do anyway). 

    Our opponents want to play rough, well we're going to play "MAD MAX" ball. They are going to be so intimidated that they don't want to even receive the ball. We won't care about field conditions and the like for it won't make a difference how we're going to paly...

  10. Santiago 1314 replied, February 9, 2021 at 11:32 p.m.

    "By Jove, I Think he's Got it "... It's a Sad Truth, But 1st you have to Dominate Teams in this Region, Physically... That Leads to Psychcological Dominance, which Leads to Easier WINs ... It was working that way for the Last 30 years, Starting back in 1987... I don't Really care all that much about how our World Cup Team plays.... "Just Win Baby; WIN.!!!"

  11. Bob Ashpole replied, February 10, 2021 at 12:20 a.m.

    The Roy Keane school of payback is a b****.

  12. Bob Ashpole replied, February 10, 2021 at 12:30 a.m.

    I believe in Roy Keane's philosophy about playing physical as a deterrent. When the opponent decides that they want to get back to playing football, then we start playing football again. Until then we are their worst nightmare.  

  13. frank schoon replied, February 10, 2021 at 9:13 a.m.

    Bob, is that how you spell "itch" ,****. You better adjust your 'autospell'  :)

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