Commentary

Road to Qatar: USA gets early wake-up call

The USA has qualified for the 2022 World Cup.

Yeah!

After the debacle in 2017, it will be happy to have qualified any way it can.

But the USA qualified as the third-place team in Concacaf thanks to goal difference -- easily its lowest finish to qualify for the World Cup since the tournament was expanded to 32 teams in 1998 and Concacaf was awarded at least three berths.

Wednesday's 2-0 loss at Costa Rica was certainly not the way the U.S. players and staff wanted to end the 14-game qualifying campaign.

Or how they might have imagined qualifying before the Octagonal started, coming off Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup championships, or even at the halfway point of qualifying when the USA had an eight-point lead over the Ticos.

That the USA played to win -- fielding its first-choice lineup -- and lost to the Ticos, who saved their yellow card-carrying stars for their playoff against New Zealand in June, might be the best thing that could have happened because it revealed the limitations that still exist in what is the youngest U.S. team to qualify for the World Cup and what will be the youngest team at the World Cup.

The USA opened the final window with a 0-0 tie at Mexico and 5-1 win over Panama -- the two results mattered -- to put in its best back-to-back performances of the Octagonal, but it has to yet come close to showing its a three-game team. (The March window was particularly tough for injuries -- the USA could have used Matt TurnerSergino DestWeston McKennieChris Richards and Brenden Aaronson -- but they will always be an issue.)

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter started seven players in all three games and made four changes for the second match against Panama, but the USA hit a wall in the second half on Wednesday night in San Jose and lost after conceding two goals on set-pieces, an area of the game that it had prided itself on being a strength throughout qualifying.

Berhalter's "next man up" motto got the USA through the Octagonal marathon -- 14 games over seven months -- but three games in seven days? There will a little more rest between games at the 2022 World Cup, but not much. In Qatar, teams will have to play three group games over nine days.

The USA ran out of gas by the third game in 2014 when it played three group matches over 11 days, but it still reached the second round. In 1994, 2002, 2010 and 2014, it advanced to the second round but never by winning more than one of its three group matches or with much comfort.

Berhalter will have the pick of the deepest pool of young talent the USA has ever produced, but the national team might not yet have the depth to get through three games and advance far in the tournament -- or in the bigger picture, achieve the worthy goal he has set for his players of putting U.S. men's soccer on the map for the world to see. 

The USA will have eight months to prepare for Qatar, but it will be unlike any recent World Cup in which it has participated.

In 2014, Jurgen Klinsmann had more than a month to prepare his team before it opened against Ghana. In November, Berhalter will have his team together 7-10 days before the first game, depending on where the USA is drawn on Friday. Most of his key players will be coming off a crazy fall schedule in Europe, where the Champions League group stage will be crammed into two months in order to be finished before the World Cup starts.

Those eight months will include a June window with four national team games -- but at least two will be Concacaf Nations League qualifiers -- and a late September window with two games. They will also cover what has never been in place before -- a summer transfer window, and all that entails in putting players and their club situations in flux, between the end of World Cup qualifying and the finals themselves.

Wednesday's result left the USA with only four points in the March window -- its fewest points in any three-game window -- and extended its scoring drought on the road to 349 minutes. Yes, it took a great game from Keylor Navas to shut out the USA, but it failed to score on a host of chances, far more than it should realistically expect to get in any game in Qatar.

Once again, Ricardo Pepi failed to score, leaving the USA with just four goals from its center forwards in 14 qualifiers -- three from Pepi in his first two starts, none in his next six starts, one from Jesus Ferreira against Panama in his second start, but none from Josh Sargent, Jordan Pefok or Gyasi Zardes in the other four starts at center forward.

Berhalter was right in his post-game comments on Wednesday night to say how much his team had progressed in the last year, particularly as far as being able to press opponents in a coordinated manner. But the USA was still never consistently put under pressure for long stretches like it will surely be at the World Cup, where opposing attacks will be a lot more powerful than what the USA has faced over the last seven months.



Zack Steffen, whom Berhalter had at the Columbus Crew, entered qualifying as the projected No. 1 keeper. With Turner injured, Steffen returned in the March window with a chance to nail down the starting job.

Steffen was very shaky in the first half against Panama and very lucky he didn't pay a price. Three days later, he wasn't so fortunate, conceding the ugliest goal the USA conceded in the Octagonal on Anthony Contreras' goal to give Costa Rica its 2-0 lead.

Who's the USA's No. 1 goalkeeper and who's its No. 1 center forward are both very much up in the air, not a good position to be in to start its World Cup countdown.

Photos: John Todd/ISI Photos

43 comments about "Road to Qatar: USA gets early wake-up call".
  1. John Sabala, March 31, 2022 at 4:03 a.m.

      Ugly Closing Game
    Will break this whole qualification down by the coach and three lines of players.  To get beat by a B team from CR is so embarrassing given the talent on the pitch. 

    GB- Gets a D- for his management of the entire team selections, tactical plans and game management over the entire window. This last game shows he is inept at how to the USA will have to create against better defenses in the WC.  Not being able to score away from home is a very real problem he could not solve. Forget the Honduras 4-1 game. One bit of luck will always happen.  GB will not change the thought of playing a back 4 despite having only one world class outside back in Dest.  A. Robinson again under pressure cannot deliver accurate passing nor make sharp passes into the box.

    CB/OB - The passing from the CBs to build play has been terrible and it was shown again in this game against CR.  Too slow, too predictable and no penetrating passes to break the top lines allowed the defense to shift too easily. GB will not play his back CBs because he has chosen his favorites.  Since this our deepest section of our player pool, the USA has 8 months to move to a 3 back system and many of our European players play in these systems already.

    Mids - The MMA line-up is hard to beat as your starting three midfielders.  LDT, Busio, Reyna and Aaronson add a lot of depth to have two attacking #8/#10 midfielders on the pitch. McKennie is used to playing wide, along with Musah. Again, another reason you have to want to go with a back 3 to put all this talent on the pitch together. I would still bring in Green and leave out all the MLS midfielders.  

    Forwards - Lets stop all the discussion about a big #9 traditional striker.  We don't produce quality service from our outside backs so of course scoring will be hard.  Pepi is not ready for this stage yet.  We play with interchangeable players up top and don't use a true #9. I think this is our best chances to score.  That means you bring in Sargent, and I would keep Ferreira. The lone big striker I keep is Pefolk to have one on the roster. You should bring in Hoppe, and Konrad to compliment CP, and Weah.

    GKs - No clear #1, best shot stopper - Turner, best all around keepers I say is a tie between Horvath and Steffan.  These are the three you bring.

  2. John Sabala replied, March 31, 2022 at 4:19 a.m.

    My starting XI for WC based on a 3-4-2-1 or a 3-4-3 will allow us to press, and create more overloads on the pitch. I think our offense will be much better with this group as the front 7 are all good on the ball and are used to playing in tight spaces. The back three will help more to stop counter attacks against us as we will always have two behind the ball.  CR showed how you play a 5-4-1 and create very good chances in the counterattack.  Brooks and Richards play in a three back system.  If you look at the combinnation play available with this group, you will be hard pressed to find a better group. Sargent and CP play in a three back system. The flexibility to use Sargent, Reyna and Aaronson on the wings is a special problem to have and only helps the team with player selection.

                         Sargent
                  CP               Weah

    McKennie    Adams     Reyna    Dest

       M. Robinson  Brooks   Richards

                     Steffan/Horvath

    Forward Subs - Aaronson, Hoppe, Konrad, Pefolk

    O-Mid Subs - Luca, Musah
    D-Mid Subs - Busio, Acosta
    Wingback Subs - Scally, Vines, A. Robinson, Cannon, Moore
    CB Subs - Zimmerman, Carter-Vickers, McKenzie, Palmer
    GK - Turner, Steffan/Horvath

  3. Santiago 1314 replied, March 31, 2022 at 6:58 a.m.

    JS; Back to the Over-Riding Question;
    HOW DOES YOUR SELECTION/TACTICS LEAD TO THE US WINNING THE WORLD CUP IN 2026.????
    Rumor has it, Roster will be Set at 27... I think it might be 25(same as Women's 
    You have 30 Players Listed;
    Brooks and Zimmerman TOO Old for 2026; Drop them Now, They make NO Difference in How Good or Bad the Team Plays.
    Playing 3 Back means Carrying 6 Defenders(you have 7).. We Don't currently have 6, because we Don't know if CCV and EPB can play with this Group( due to Poor Coaching Selection)
    Pefok.??? NO Way
    Cannon/Moore... Same Player... Drop One of them... Neither of them Can Play as "Yo-Yo" in 3-4-3 (Which I don't see us Playing)
    Pefok.??? NO Way... Hopefully Dike will Develop to give us a "Power Forward" Option 
    Acosta....Might have to be on the Team...We still don't have a #6 Replacement for Adams...(But if he is ON the Field why is CP Taking Corners and Long FKs.???)
    Just some Thoughts for Now...More detail once we know Draw and Roster Size on Friday

  4. Wayne Norris replied, March 31, 2022 at 7:57 a.m.

    If Busio steps on field in Qatar it will not go well......what is the infatuation with this guy?

    Border bench guy for a soon the be Serie "B" squad.


  5. Christopher Tierney replied, March 31, 2022 at 11:27 a.m.

    I think, as we've seen, that our best attacking players do not include anyone from our striker pool.  If all healthy, you have CP, TW and GR up top in an interchangeable manner.  Allow them the freedom to move and play off of one another.  This is our best current option IMO.

  6. Santiago 1314 replied, March 31, 2022 at 9:05 p.m.

    Agreed Chris

  7. John Sabala replied, April 1, 2022 at 3:37 a.m.

      Santi,
    My tactics and style of play have us pressing teams in general formation that lends itself to pressing in wide areas, and is our best options against a counterattack.  It also give us our best chances to put the ball in the back of the net.  I fear GB will play afraid and try to play teams by parking the bus and play long balls in a weak counterattack plan.  Do we win the WC 2026? Not if we don't develop some meaningful experince in the current WC.  I have to diasgree with not keeping Pefolk. Service into the box will be better based on my alignment and we will be able to create more chances to score playing on the ground.  I think the roster will be allowed at 27 and the reserve roster will push it above 30 if someone get Covid you will be able to bring other players designated on the reserve list.  It happened with the woman at the Olympics.  Realistically people are going to get Covid and have to be dropped from the sqaud for several matches.  Againa GB's ability to create movement of players in the attacking third is evident.  Hell he could borrow from the Italians, Spanish or now Germans who have attack patterns they follow in the final third. We have the players to be able to do this, just need to practice it on the pitch against quality opponents.

  8. Kevin Leahy, March 31, 2022 at 6:55 a.m.

    I have come to the conclusion that, GB has something personally he doesn't like about Sargent. Why hasn't he been given the second oppurtunity that, Pefok & Pepi have. Pepi isn't playing any in the Bundesliga and he can't stand up to the physical challenges he receives. Pefok hasn't shown me a first touch at all. Jordan Morris isn't even starting in MLS and spent a long time recovering from injuries. They can get goals fom our midfield but, they need someone that can hold the ball up for the midfield to join the attack. Wouls also like to see Konrad come back in. Happy for the team qualification and look forward to them being competitive.

  9. Paul Krieg replied, March 31, 2022 at 10:29 a.m.

    Sargent has stalled, if not regressed.  He chose to go to teams without service, in search of minutes at striker.  He has done poorly - 13 goals in EPL and Bundesligia in 95 games.  I was optimistic that Werder Bremen was the problem and that life in England would resurrect him, but he's been atrocious there.  0.12 goals per 90, with literally all of them coming in one game.  Love for him to build his way back, but bringing him into the team now would be a waste of a seat, IMO

  10. R2 Dad replied, March 31, 2022 at 1:23 p.m.

    Sargent has been poorly advised. Not enough has been written about how agents optimize wages for their client at the expense of career development. Look at Haaland. He could have easily gone to bigger clubs/wages at any time but his father knew better. Hence Salzburg, then Dortmund to build exposure and minutes. Sargent should have gone to the Erdivisie or Austria first. Now he's stuck in an expensive league, not producing, at age 22.

  11. John Sabala replied, April 1, 2022 at 3:46 a.m.

      Paul, 
    You are correct at Bremen there was a complete lack of service into the box for Sargent and was on a team dying on the vine. Bremen financial woes are great. As I live here in Germany I know what I am talking about as the club's demise is well documented here.  Sargent went from not playing at Norwich to earning the starting job on the wing.  Norwich has often play complete counterattack role against most EPL clubs.  They don't have the money to get the players needed to put a top squad together.  If you have watched Sargent play he has done very well and brings so much more to the team than Pepi, the fact he can play striker and winger now makes him even more valuable to the USMNT.  He is still the most complete #9 in our pool....plain and simple.


  12. Peter Bechtold, March 31, 2022 at 6:55 a.m.

    Good points all, JS.
    My personal preference, which is very unrealistic at this point, would be to make one more change. Replace Gregg B. With one of the most experienced and highly qualified available HCs, Jogi Loew who is doing nothing in his Black Forest home. His former boss in 2006 should give him a call. Just a dream, I don't expect USSF leadership to be smart enough to see.

  13. John Sabala replied, April 1, 2022 at 3:48 a.m.

      Hey Peter,
    Now that GB has got the team into the WC, there is no way he will be fired from the good ol' boy club of USSF.  Hell I would settle for Jill Ellis!!

  14. Matt Cardillo, March 31, 2022 at 8:59 a.m.

    Gotta say i have a real sour taste in my mouth about the next 8 months and the insane and insulting stabs at the soccer calendar.  All this change in schedule, crammed matches...etc... all to play a WC in Qatar that was stolen from US. With the toppers being the slave labor to build the stadiums and an agreement to move the WC to the winter. Eff'ing crazy. 

  15. Guy Walling, March 31, 2022 at 9:22 a.m.

    GB is very similar to a youth club coach when choosing the roster by choosing players based on favoritism, personal relationships and simply whether he likes the player or not then tries to explain his decision based on technical bs. It all started with Zardes his pal from the Crew. He should be held accountable for loosing to a B team last night. I'm sorry, but that performance was pathetic, even if we qualified.

  16. Wooden Ships replied, March 31, 2022 at 9:38 a.m.

    Guy, agree with you a second time (not that I'm counting), on soccer insight. 

  17. Santiago 1314 replied, March 31, 2022 at 9:17 p.m.

    Matt, it is Nucking FUTS.!!! ... we will only Get June FIFA Window (4 games)  and (2) games in Sept. to Prepare... And ONLY 1 Week together before First Group Game... WHAT A JOKE... That's why I keep saying;
    EVERYTHING MUST BE DONE TO PREPARE THE USMNT TO WIN THE WORLD CUP 2026 as The Home Team.!!!

  18. Alex Michalakos, March 31, 2022 at 10:29 a.m.

    Forget player selection. The team, like so many currently, seems obsessed with keeping possession but has no coherent plan on how they'll try to score a goal. There are lots of different strategies. We don't have one.

    Other nations have played very direct, just long balls into the box; English teams would 'get round the back' and cross low balls into the box. But in both strategies there would be multiple players in the box so the crosses are not wasted. They're on the same page. And those have little risk. Colombia and Barcelona had technical players who would make short passes near and in the box, but then they are always aware of the sidden run in to the box. Some teams rely on wingers. Other teams just play defensively and counter.

    Our team tries very very hard to play keepaway in their own half, expends a lot of energy and has a lot of close calls, then finaly gets into the oppenent's half and looks lost.

    They get the ball, then look around ("what do i do?").  They often lose the ball due to indecision. When someone decides to cross, there's only 1 or maybe two guys in the box, because they didn't anticipate that would happen. They're not on the same page. The runs aren't there, and if they happen they're not expected so the ball's not there.  And good grief, when you're in the final third (and you're losing) and instead of trying a forward dribble or forward pass, you get a little bit of pressure and the ball goes all the way back to the keeper, what are we doing???

    If you look at how goals are scored around the world, a lot of them come off of low crosses from the endline, as tap-ins or own goals, or off deflections.  We have some pretty decent wingers.  It just seems like we need a plan. Even if it's just hoof the ball into the box, that's better than losing it in your own penalty area. They have been much better lately at just clearing the ball when there's too much pressure. But there needs to be a plan for how they'll try to score a freakin' goal. You don't win any points by making 10 passes in your own half under pressure. It's what happens after that that counts.



  19. Santiago 1314 replied, March 31, 2022 at 9:20 p.m.

    Correct you are Alex.

  20. John Sabala replied, April 1, 2022 at 3:56 a.m.

      Alex,
    You post clearly shows that it is not the player who don't know what to do, as so many are on top clubs with clear ideas of how they attack and the role each of them plays in a match.  Players look lost because there is not clear plan from the coach on how to create scoring chances. Hence we see our individual players taking on 2 or 3 defenders to try and create something from nothing.  You also point out the point I raised that the backline is too slow in passing deicisions to start a build up in the opponent's half.  There were countless chances to quickly play the ball wide when switching the point of attack and making a deep penetrating pass in the center to break lines.  As I stated in another reply post here, we have no clear attack plans and this starts and ends with the coaching staff.  CR realized something I said so many times before, A. Robinson is a poor leftback and cannot handle the ball when pressured and most often turns it over with bad passing or being dispossesed.  Regardless of who we play, if we have a general attacking pattern with movement off the ball, it would help to create the space needed to breakdown any opponent.

  21. Dave Kitterman, March 31, 2022 at 10:32 a.m.

    Why do we need wake-up calls at all? 

  22. Erin Wade, March 31, 2022 at 10:33 a.m.

    Disagree with Zimmerman comments.  He has been really solid the entire time.  One minor slip on a goal last night, but it was the outside backs that really failed us.  A. Robinson has been fun to watch during qualifying, but what happens when teams just put two men on pressure out wide (like last night?)  He can't play his way out, and his man defending and distribution is poor in the back.

    We really missed McKennie and Dest.  They make the most difference.

  23. John Sabala replied, April 1, 2022 at 4:03 a.m.

    Erin,
    I have beel wailing for months that A. Robinson needs to be a backup and so many other have said the same thing that we need Scally or Vines on that side.  You are a bit late to the party on that one.  Most goal chances for the US come from the right or the center of the pitch.  Now about Zimmerman, he has played well defensively for the most part and is a vocal leader in the back. However, his passing and build up play is not up to snuff for what the US will need at the WC.  He could be a solid relief to come up when we are trying to close out a game to hold a lead. He has not shown solid vision and making passes that begin a build up attack.  He tends to play sideways and backwards or launches the ball long over the top most often giving up possession.  Just offering another opinion. I believe he needs to be on the squad.

  24. Paul Krieg, March 31, 2022 at 10:45 a.m.

    I'm not a huge fan of Berhalter, but I think a lot of this criticism is overdone.  Last night's stinker - IMO - is in large part due to missing McKennie and a fully fit Tyler Adams.  When they are driving the engine room, they cover for some of the gaps elsewhere.  Those gaps are in part due to Berhalter, but such is life

    If we have a fit Adams and McKennie in WC, then midfield turns back into a strength.  Defensive weaknesses - too late to change from a 4 man back line to 3.  This is not FIFA 22 - team needs to get reps and gel.  I'm more concerned about inconsistencies in CB - but the group will be Zimmerman, Robinson, Richards, McKenzie.  Brooks is out.  Full backs - hopefully Dest will be healthy and we are arguing about the backups.  I would bring Scally in, so Dest and Jedi to start, Yedlin, Cannon and Scally as cover.  

    Biggest shift I think Berhalter needs to make is to give up on waiting for a target striker.  Pepi clearly makes the team, but I'd be interested in trying to move to a false 9, opening the middle for Pulisic and Weah from the wings.  Seems like a great opportunity to put Gio in there.  He's got the speed and the technical skill.  Call it a 4-4-2 with him as a 10, or a 4-3-3 with him as a false 9.  In other words, turn Gio into Bobby Firmino a la Liverpool

  25. Wooden Ships replied, March 31, 2022 at 4:07 p.m.

    Pepi is not the player Sargent is. Again, Sargent has not played with our alleged "A" team once. Inside of him is still the dominant striker he was with our youth national teams. Greg being a defender was so busy defending that he's failed to recognize what talented forwards bring. A former striker.

  26. Santiago 1314 replied, March 31, 2022 at 9:32 p.m.

    Paul, Correct you are Reyna:
    But Ggg only had 7 more games Before WC22 Starts...
    He should Realize, as we ALL Do, That our only Solution to Ct.Forward,
    IS GIO, AS A FALSE#9
    And Yet, he Blew the Chance, versus The "B" Team of CR.
    Another Reason Ggg SHOULD BE FIRED.!!!!

  27. Chance Hall, March 31, 2022 at 11:30 a.m.

    Big sigh of relief that the men qualified for the WC.  However, last night could be the worst game I've ever seen the men play.  Even when they lost to T&T they played better.  I still don't undrstand how players can be on our national team if they don't show the proper respect for our country.  It's always a pleasure watching the other countries players and how proud they are to be fortunate enough to represent their country. I pray that one day we will be able to watch our team show the proper respect to their country.

  28. Wooden Ships replied, March 31, 2022 at 4:10 p.m.

    I hear ya Chance but don't hold your breath. 

  29. Kent James, March 31, 2022 at 12:24 p.m.

    Not a great game for the US, but not the disaster many people think it was.  It would have been good to exorcise the demon of trying to win in San Jose, but that remains.  GB put out a line-up to win the game, which was good.  He brought in positive subs (Reyna, LDLT).  The US certainly created enough chances (4 or 5 excellent chances to score, and without Navas or some desperate defending, we should have scored a few of them).  We dominated possession, corners, and gave CR very few chances (the only chance in the first half was a shot from 25+ yds out).  Aside from the two goals, which both came on set pieces (and the 2nd was a GK error and a bit of luck for CR), CR had one decent chance that Steffens made an easy save on.  So it wasn't like CR dominated us or we couldn't keep up. 


    On the down side, we lost to the CR B team (lots of first call-ups) and while we got the result we needed (not losing by 6+), that's a low bar.  I was glad the team was not celebrating the loss (even as we qualified).  Our search for a striker continues.  Pepe had two nice shots (one set up beautifully by Weah) forcing good saves from Nevas, but he is not the savior many people thought he might be.  It seems to me we have a lot of options (Sargent, Pefok, Dike, Fereirra, Pepe), but no clear choice; they are all young, and should all be considered.  I see Sargent as the most versatile, so I'd like to see him given a chance, but this is a tough call.  We may be better playing without a #9 (as John suggested) to get Pulisic, Weah and Reyna on the field at the same time (with Aaronson as well).


    I was disappointed we did not do more with our set pieces, since I think we were in double digits w/corner kicks.  We should have recognized that CR was exceptionally strong in the air (esp Vargas), and varied our approach (especially with Pulisic, how about a short corner?).  Acosta should have taken a few, since we got very little from Pulisic's.


    LDLT did well with the ball, though (as is often the case with skillful players who take guys on), he sometimes lost it at inopportune times.  But he certainly adds offensive dynamism.  He got the ball a number of times to A. Robinson on the flank, who was well covered by 2 defenders.  Given that, it seemed like we should have been able to take advantage of CR sending so many defenders out to the wing.  


    All in all, a disappointing way to qualify, but I think we will play better in Qatar. It's been a wierd campaign, but it's going to be a wierd WC as well.  We'll need to be flexible.

  30. Santiago 1314 replied, March 31, 2022 at 9:46 p.m.


    • Why is CP Taking Corners/FKs when Acosta is on the Field.???


    As a "Proven Goal Scorer, He should be Poaching around the Goal,
    POOR Coaching; Either Ggg has Picked the Wrong Player, or The Players are NOT Listening to him.!?!?!?
    EITHER WAY, ANOTHER REASON Ggg SHOULD BE FIRED.!!!

  31. Robert Heinrich, March 31, 2022 at 12:28 p.m.

    They were bad in the first half, long before the goals came.  Players dallied on the ball, looking at all the options and it destroyed the tempo needed to break a team down, especially one playing with the energy and cohesion Costa Rica was playing with.  An extremely dull game from the US side

  32. John Soares, March 31, 2022 at 1:11 p.m.

    Very disappointing game
    I usually try to stay on the positive side... But
    With ...realistically nothing to lose 
    This is a game we should have come out on full effort and show our capabilities and potential 
    Go for the win from the kick off 
    Especially when Costa Rica didn't have their A team on the field 
    Very poor exhibition 

  33. Sam Bellin, March 31, 2022 at 2:09 p.m.

    Disappointing game for sure, we've all seen the US play much better, but still, wasn't the game decided by the keepers?  Either their keeper won the game, or our keeper lost it, or both?
    The US had the better of the play before, during, and after the 2 CR goals.  Yes we should have created more against the CR backups but we had 5-6 quality shots on goal -- not just barely high or barely blocked by a sliding defender -- but 5-6 well-struck shots from inside the box that were going in to the net except saved well by Navas.  CR had exactly 1 good shot on net -- and it went right through Steffen's hands.  I know it was a fast header from in close, but that's the kind of big save you need from a big keeper and Steffen never seems to make that save.  The second goal was simply a GK howler, and again, Steffen makes at least one of those every game, especially if a forward is close to him.  If we simply play Turner or Horvath, use a false "9," and get MMA and Dest fully fit we could surprise a lot of teams in Qatar.

  34. Santiago 1314 replied, March 31, 2022 at 9:35 p.m.

    I'm with you Sam

  35. Ted Morehouse, March 31, 2022 at 2:13 p.m.

    Blah, blah, blah ....this is the same palaver I have been reading for the last 14 games.  " The youngest team" is offered as an excuse for all our failures , except we were undressed by a far younger team in San Jose last night. Every point has an underlying implication that we have great players and lots of them. Belying everything we saw on the pitch over several months and 14 matches. 

    I think the best that can be said is we have crafted a team which ranks between #32 ( not sure we can claim superiority over Costa Rica if they beat NZ) and number # 36 ( or so ) in the world, accounting for the fact that some superior teams failed to make the cut.  One might argue that is an improvement over the representation of the USMNT four years ago, but the progress....the improvement ....is glacial and requires a microscope to identify. 


    The disgraceful performance last night did one thing for me, however.  It relieved me of all future stress regarding this team.  I used to worry about who was injured, who was called up, who was mysteriously omitted ( the Joe Scally syndrome ).  Now, I realize it doesn't matter. Whomever we have on the pitch, it will not effect the outcome.  McKinnie may be " better" than Roldan, but we'll still lose to a bunch of 18 year olds in San Jose.  We won't ever win two matches in a row.  We won't routinely beat the teams " we are meant to beat," or shockingly upset a team regarded as of higher quality.

    So I no longer care who is healthy or what the line-up is, and that is a relief.  I used to feel personally persecuted when Reyna, or Pulisic or Dest got injured.  Now I can live with the fact that it doesn't matter.

    We are not the vastly improved team you want us to believe we are.  We are just fodder as we have always been.  Teams will pay fortunes to be in our group at the WC.  


    And we can all get a coffee cup with the Qatar World Cup logo on it. And be happy.  

  36. Santiago 1314 replied, March 31, 2022 at 9:39 p.m.

    Dang Ted, I find Myself agreeing with You.!!!

  37. John Sabala replied, April 1, 2022 at 4:23 a.m.

      Ted,
    All of your points are so valid and once again reveal that it does not matter who GB has on the pitch. We see the same type of game plan. This is just another validation of his ineptness to create tactical plans that are build around his talent pool and the opponent he is playing.  Against the CR B team playing mostly a 5-4-1 or a 4-4-2 we did not really create build up chances connecting play. Especially not on the left side. You saw our midfielders and forwards having to drop back to receive the ball which is what CR wanted as they would just foul us to stop any potential chances and live with the set piece free kick.  Folks already brought up the lack of set piece attacking plan as we saw the same set up in the box from our set pieces.  No changes in playing short, or targeting a different player other than M. Robinson.  Again GB was outcoached before and during the match. A real digrace to lose to #40 plus ranked team playing most back-up and many first capped players.

  38. James Madison, March 31, 2022 at 2:25 p.m.

    Sargent, Pefok, and Zardes should be history

    The US was AWFUL on its own CKs, and just about as bad in defendinga against set pieces.  However, CR's goal against Canada was much like goal no. 1 against US.  Steffen's error set the stage fo goal no. 2, but everyone else then just stood around and watched.

    So far as the timetble is concerned, the recent three-game set involved lots of travel and no real rest.

    Oh well, the US qualified, which is more than can be said for 2018.

  39. Wooden Ships replied, March 31, 2022 at 4:19 p.m.

    Janes did you ever watch Sargent in our junior national teams? He's still the same guy, only stronger, faster and relentless. He's not played with the A players.

  40. John McGinty, April 1, 2022 at 12:16 a.m.

    Wow love all the comments, very thoughtful.
    Not worried about 2026 yet, need posiitive play and results in 2022 to build a foundation of success for USMNT, then they can progress to challenge "Pot 1" against top FIFA ranked national teams at home in '26.
    GB personnel decisions are baffling, other then the MLS bias particularly Zardes and Steffen frrom Columbus whom he coached, but Morris and Arriola playing now why? because they "hustle" have a high work rate? How was Horvath not in at least one game? He has been in outstanding form for Notts Forest and played very well vs. Liverpool in FA Cup. This is a big issue when you have players playing weekly in Europe against the best competition who are not even on the roster. Scally and Sargent absences especially, as others have said.
    One thing that rankles me about GB is his sideline behavior, so amateurish in tee shirts, doing inane things when the ball comes to him out of bounds, in one sense it seems irrelevant but in another it seems unprofessional in the sense of being a competent professional national coach. Suarez comparison is all you need from Wednesday. He had made a calculated decision on a starting lineup to avoid yellow card disqualifications for playoff with NZ in June, but prepared his "B" squad for success, his double teaming of CP and AR and rough tackling were the key to the game for me.
    An important point to consider is the enormous amount of travel Canada and USA have to make for this competition in such a tight 3 game window. Mexico and Costa Rica benefit enormously from this and do not suffer food poisoning...  

  41. John Sabala replied, April 1, 2022 at 4:36 a.m.

      John M,
    All your points are spot on. GB has favorites as many of of has stated over the last several months.  Instead of giving Sargent and guys like Scally or Vines time on the pitch he stays with what he is comfortable with for him and not overall player and pool development.  Your comments about his behavior on the sideline are also on point.  Many of us have stated his antics beyond his wardrobe choices.  Suarez, like most other coaches outthink him.  CR's plan was to foul the US players hard in the attacking third if they beat the first defender.  So of course he sat his best players sitting on yellows. Even with that there were 5 players starting that had yellows.  All the players knew the game plan and their role in it.  They happily embraced it and executed it well.  That we moved forward on goal differential comes down the the Honduras win and the Panama win. Otherwise we are playing New Zealand and could have ended up like Italy once more.

  42. John Sabala replied, April 1, 2022 at 4:36 a.m.

      John M,
    All your points are spot on. GB has favorites as many of of has stated over the last several months.  Instead of giving Sargent and guys like Scally or Vines time on the pitch he stays with what he is comfortable with for him and not overall player and pool development.  Your comments about his behavior on the sideline are also on point.  Many of us have stated his antics beyond his wardrobe choices.  Suarez, like most other coaches outthink him.  CR's plan was to foul the US players hard in the attacking third if they beat the first defender.  So of course he sat his best players sitting on yellows. Even with that there were 5 players starting that had yellows.  All the players knew the game plan and their role in it.  They happily embraced it and executed it well.  That we moved forward on goal differential comes down the the Honduras win and the Panama win. Otherwise we are playing New Zealand and could have ended up like Italy once more.

  43. Santiago 1314 replied, April 3, 2022 at 8:50 p.m.

    I much prefer the "Team" shirts to those Geeky looking Button Downs he used to wear.
    Can't Nike come up with a Decent Polo that the Staff could wear.???
    And at least he doesn't Stand around with his Arms "Insecurely" Locked around himself.
    Ggg has Progressed as a Coach... But, it should NOT have been at the Expense of the USMNT, AND his Current Level is NO WHERE CLOSE TO WHAT THIS GROUP OF PLAYERS DESERVE OR NEED.!!! He should be REPLACED, IMMEDIATELY.!!!

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