USMNT: Gregg Berhalter on Musah, Pulisic, Dest, Adams, Reyna and McKenzie

The U.S. men's national team closes out its June run of games -- three in seven days, intended to replicate World Cup 2022 qualifying, where four of the five windows will consist of three dates -- when it hosts Costa Rica on Wednesday in Sandy, Utah.

Ahead of the game, much of the talk has been about the exciting Concacaf Nations League final in which the USA beat Mexico, 3-2, in overtime. On Tuesday's media call, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter was asked about many players. Here are his edited comments.

Yunus Musah (18), the only field player among the USA's 23 players who did not play in the Nations League.

"It was a tactical decision. He's a big part of what we do. He's a young player, 18 years old, and in these particular games we opted for something different. I don't think it means that he's not part of the group. He's a guy that we're counting for the future and to bring him into these games in the right way, for him to see the speed of the game, for him to get used to what Concacaf is like, and to see that from the sideline. But he's ready to go for tomorrow, we're looking forward to him having a good game tomorrow. He's great. He's ready to go. He understands it's a team. He's dealt with enough with Valencia this year to understand that sometimes you don't get to play, but it's been a lot of communication from us. It's never easy for younger players not to get on the field, but he's patient and he's bought into the team concept."

Christian Pulisic (22), who had a quiet game until earning -- and converting -- the winning penalty kick.

"The way Mexico defends is very man-oriented with very, very limited space. We tried to get him moving from wide positions to central positions. At times, he did pick up the ball centrally, and at times he was just missed by his teammates. There were opportunities that he's there and he just doesn't get the ball. Moving forward, it's the focus of how do we get Christian the ball in spots that he can be effective and dangerous? Having said that, he still got a penalty called in overtime that led to the winning goal. He was still was on the end of a number of plays that could have been more dangerous. We still want to get him the ball in more dangerous positions."

Sergino Dest (20), the first U.S. player to go off, in the 60th minute.

"We asked a lot of him tactically in the game. We asked him to move from a wide midfielder to a wing back. We asked them to move inside, to move outside and sometimes it's difficult to get into the flow of a game because of that.  He did get the ball in some good positions. He had a really explosive run in the first half, crossed the ball into the penalty box but didn't pick someone out. He had a play in the second half where Christian ended up intercepting the ball. But if Christian lets it go, it goes right to Weston [McKennie] in the penalty box for a shot that could have been a good play. We want Sergino embracing the tougher moments of the game, the moments when the game doesn't look like he's used to seeing because that's Concacaf. He's a fantastic player. He's got as much talent as anyone else on the team. And it's just about getting used to what Concacaf soccer is like."

Tyler Adams (22), who was out for a month with a back injury before entering in the 82nd minute.

"I had long conversations with Tyler beforehand where his fitness was in doubt. And I said, 'Listen, if you're 60, 70 percent, we want to take you anyway because we want you being around this environment. We want you seeing what this is like being with the guys and helping out.' And he was great with that. And we knew there was no chance he could play against Honduras. We knew there was a limited chance that he could start against Mexico. It was about putting him in a position to contribute. And that's exactly what he did. The one good thing about overtime was the periods are broken up by a pause after the interval. So [regulation] ended, he got a break, and then we did 15 minutes and he got a break. And then another 15 minutes, I think that helped manage his load a little bit. He's important for the team. It's great to have him around because he hasn't been around that often with the group."

Gio Reyna (18), who at age 18 contributed a goal and an assist but also did a lot of work defensively.

"The great thing about Gio is he can get a lot of advice first-hand from his father. [Claudio] played in a number of those games and I think the combination of myself being able to tell him what these games are about, but also his leaning on his dad for information is valuable because the one thing I'm telling him is the intensity of these games is a different level and embrace it. He has the physicality for an 18 year old. He's a big boy. He's a strong boy, a lot of power. And it was great to see him using it in that game. Gio's a really interesting player. When it's all said and done, he's going to have skill sets that not many players possess, just the size and the speed and the running with the ball. And I think when he works on the finishing side of it, making assists, making goals, and the defensive side of it, he's an absolutely complete player."

Mark McKenzie (22), the goat on the opening Mexico goal who stayed in the game for the entire 120 minutes.

"I was a defender as well, and I just know the feeling when you make a mistake that leads to a goal. Sometimes you want to just hide and you have to keep going. And he did that and it wasn't always pretty, but in the meantime, he made some huge plays, stepped in front of guys, he was isolated one-v-one against top-level attackers and held his own. I spoke to the team about Mark and his performance yesterday. And it was just a really brave performance and relentless performance. He hung in there and just kept going so I was really proud of him and his effort."

13 comments about "USMNT: Gregg Berhalter on Musah, Pulisic, Dest, Adams, Reyna and McKenzie".
  1. Peter Bechtold, June 9, 2021 at 10:35 a.m.

    Interesting. It reveals a side of Coach Berhalter not often seen.
    I will be curious about his line-up tonight vs. CR.

  2. Scot Sutherland, June 9, 2021 at 2:49 p.m.

    For the first time since the Dempsey, Donovan days I am hopeful about this group.  I have not seen the benefit of the academy system to date because individual development and the monetary value of the player take precedent over team and learning how to win.  College does not develop individual talent the way academies do, but it does perhaps the best job anywhere on the planet of teaching young people how to compete as a team.  I saw two tap-ins bypassed by Pulisic and Reyna, who have that academy trained perspective of the money player paying it back.  In Europe championships are purchased.  In the US until now, championships have been won through team building.  Team beats individuals every time, and for the first time in a long time I saw the beginnings of a team.

  3. R2 Dad replied, June 9, 2021 at 3:17 p.m.

    Agree. I like to go back to 2017-18 Liverpool season. Got to the CL final but had problems at a couple of positions. Added a new keeper and CB and the team gelled into PL champions. Obviously Nats can't purchase players but maybe by rotating in a couple of players (Ethan for Zack at GK, Miazga/Richards/Long/Zimmerman for Ream, Efrain Alvarez for Acosta or really anyone else). If Dest and CP can find their groove, this team could really develop into something more than the sum of their parts.

  4. Kent James, June 9, 2021 at 2:55 p.m.

    I agree with GB's assessment of his players.  Pulisic and Dest are two of the best players we have, but they did not have much of an impact (until Pulisic's flawless PK).  But that happens.  Reyna actually strikes me a sleight (tall and not really filled out) rather than big; he's got the frame (and movement) of Claudio, and he uses quickness rather than size and strength to beat people.  He'll only get better as he matures physically...I'm looking forward to that.

  5. Goal Goal replied, June 9, 2021 at 9:05 p.m.

    If you think the young Reyna looks anything like his father you are hallucinating. The youngster is slow always looks like he is lost.  The goal he got against Mexico was an accident.  He had already stopped and the ball came off the post right in his lap.  It was a tap in.  Between Aronson and Reyna who are you going to go with?

  6. Carlos Rocha, June 9, 2021 at 3:35 p.m.

    MLS is a good scam. Lol 

  7. R2 Dad replied, June 9, 2021 at 3:52 p.m.

    If you're going to troll, at least post to the relevant articles. 

  8. Carlos Rocha, June 9, 2021 at 4:09 p.m.

    Not a "Troll" at all, it's the truth. Read between the lines bud.

  9. R2 Dad replied, June 9, 2021 at 6:46 p.m.

    Call me dense, I'm just not seeing the point of your comment. Entertain me.

  10. Carlos Rocha, June 9, 2021 at 4:40 p.m.

    Careful though U.S. Soccer FIFA was investigated for the same "Business".

  11. R2 Dad replied, June 9, 2021 at 6:47 p.m.

    Which business model offends you most?

  12. uffe gustafsson, June 9, 2021 at 8:27 p.m.

    R 2 dad you right on point.
    carlos find another post since none of us know what you refering too. Just throwing out some words never makes any sense.

  13. Bob Ashpole, June 10, 2021 at 10:49 p.m.

    Did anyone else notice that GB praised Renya for his size, speed, and running with the ball? He simply isn't the coach who will raise the techncial aspect of our play.

    His views and approach work for MLS and competition against CONCACAF opponents, heck it would even work in Europe in lower divisions and bottom tier clubs wanting to avoid relegation, but it won't put us consistently in the top ten internationally.

    By the way Santiago, I started reading the new book about the MNT. I am not finished with the first chapter and already fed up with it. It panders to US fans using cliches instead of informing anyone. It appears to me to be a commercial piece of junk. Like a politician it tells the audiance what it wants to hear. I might finish the first chapter before giving it up before I lose more brain cells. 

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