I’m excited about this next generation of the USMNT. Real excited. And you should be, too. Do I agree with every decision that Coach Berhalter has made? Absolutely not. Most importantly not calling up Josh Sargent. But does this team have an actual identity and a common goal (for the first time in years)? Absolutely. And we came to play this Gold Cup.
Last night, the team played Panama in a match that didn’t have serious implications for either side. Both teams came in with 6 points, enough to make it out of the group no matter the result. That being said, I was still worried when I saw that Berhalter made 11 changes to the starting lineup. I understood sitting McKennie on a yellow card as well as resting legs in an unimportant game. But I still think the team has a lot to prove after missing the World Cup. One thing was clear while watching the game: this team has a defined game plan, no matter the personnel. The team defended in a 433, moving to a 343 in attack. There was communication! Movement! Passing! And most importantly, a big W in the win column. Big, big improvements.
Here were my biggest takeaways from the game.
- Mihailovic was immense on and off the ball in the central midfield. I was gutted to see him leave with an injury, and I hope it’s not a serious one. I believe he earned a starting spot in the Quarterfinals if he’s healthy.
- The defense is looking better. Miazga looked solid tonight. Long, Lima, and Zimmerman who were all rested, looked good in the first two games. Getting Brooks back will further improve things. However, I can’t help but wonder how this team will hold up against more prolific opponents.
- Please, please, please, no more Omar. I don’t know if my heart can take any more. I used to love him, but his pace has left him with age and my heart skips a beat anytime he’s involved in the play.
- Cannon was, well, a cannon up and down the right flank. He was the only reason the team was able to move from a 433 to a 343. He’s plays like Yedlin, if Yedlin knew how to play soccer.
- The jury is still out on Altidore vs Zardes. Zardes is better in build-up, while Altidore is the better finisher. See: last night’s sick bicycle (I get it was a tap in, but let’s see you hit a bike that well)
My opinion on the Altidore vs Zardes debate, you ask? It should have been Josh Sargent or Timothy Weah. Someone who isn’t going to be 30 or older at World Cup 2022. Just my two cents.
The USMNT had a perfect performance in Group D, finishing undefeated at the top of the group with 11 goals scored, 0 goals conceded. Although the teams played may not look like the toughest opponents, I would like to remind you that Trinidad and Tobago kept the team from attending the 2018 World Cup. 2 years later, and the team turned a 2-1 loss into a 6-0 thrashing. Things are really looking up for the future of fútbol in America. Tune in to watch the team stomp Curaçao this Sunday, June 30th at 8:00.