After the defeat against Germany, the USMNT shows that it has to evolve in Berhalter’s second cycle | ET REALITY


Ahead of Saturday afternoon’s friendly against Germany, U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter said games like this “are not about being afraid of the outcome (or) being afraid to compete, but about taking advantage of these moments”.

Their hope: that in the next three years leading up to the 2026 World Cup, games like this will serve as opportunities to learn what it takes to compete with (and beat) the best in international soccer.

However, the 3-1 loss to Germany in front of 37,743 spectators in East Hartford, Connecticut, showed that the United States still has to evolve, from the team that was eliminated by the Netherlands in the knockout round of the 2022 World Cup to one that can go far at home.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” central defender Tim Ream said bluntly when asked what the big takeaway from the game was.

The United States started the match well, but in the second half Germany took control of the match and the Americans never found their way back. At times, the United States was too pressured in defensive transition after bad turnovers, and at other times, Germany was given too much time and space near the top of the box.

“We need to not turn the ball over so quickly in bad areas,” Ream said. “Do you give the ball away around the 18th? Alright. On the attacking field? I get it, no problem, you’re trying things out. But when you give the ball too quickly in midfield while we’re trying to get our attack in shape and prepare, then it’s going to look A) disjointed, and B) guys are going to look out of position. And when you do that against good players, you get punished.”

Gio Reyna spent 45 minutes in a central position (Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Some of the defensive issues highlighted the absence of captain Tyler Adams, who has been a stalwart for the United States in defensive midfield, helping to break up passing lanes, make key tackles and set the tone in midfield. The World Cup captain has been out since March with a hamstring injury and then suffering a setback Earlier this month he is now expected to miss a significant amount more time. Berhalter said entering this window that Adams’ absence gave the United States the opportunity to try out some “Plan B” options for playing without him. The match against Germany showed that “Plan B” is still not entirely clear.

But it was not about the absence of a player. There were disconnects that allowed Germany to take the ball further up the pitch and then find the small lanes around the box that their world-class players exploited.

“When you watch them and what they do, it’s one of those things where you break a line and you get to their box and all of a sudden they’re behind the ball,” Ream said. “And I think that’s where we have to learn, put guys behind the ball, be compact, especially in and around our defensive 18. And that’s something that again, it’s a learning process, and it’s something that we need to look at.” and make sure we do better.”

Several players said the United States needs to find ways to put on more complete performances for the full 90 minutes. The first half gave the team confidence that they could match Germany (they were able to get behind Germany’s defensive line on multiple occasions and seemed to lack that finishing action), but there was a dip in performance in the second half.

Yunus Musah started as a deeper midfielder on Saturday, with Weston McKennie ahead of him and Gio Reyna in the number 10 role.

Reyna, who played exclusively as a winger in the last World Cup cycle, looked dangerous and effective centrally under interim coaches earlier this year. His return to the team with Berhalter on the sidelines was among the headlines of this camp, and how Berhalter would use him was the biggest question. Reyna had a solid 45-minute outing on Saturday, and playing him in that central role was promising. However, Reyna had to come off at halftime while he improves his form and physical condition.

However, in the first half, the United States looked dangerous on offense at times and fell behind Germany on several occasions. Early in the match, Pulisic was called for offside in what would have been a breakaway; Berhalter felt that he should not have been declared dead. In another attack, Reyna found Balogun to set up Pulisic alone on Marc-André ter Stegen, but Pulisic fell after touching around the goalkeeper.

“I went around him and there was contact for sure,” Pulisic said.

The referee did not blow the whistle, but a few minutes later Pulisic scored a fantastic goal, beating four German defenders and launching a ball into the top corner.

“That’s a world-class goal,” Berhalter said.

However, after Pulisic gave the United States an early lead, Germany rallied. Leroy Sané used a clever double touch to split Musah and Reyna in the 39th minute at the top of the area, and Ilkay Gündogan played a perfect pass to Sané to slot through on goal. Goalkeeper Matt Turner made the initial save, but Gündogan was there to finish off the rebound for the equalizer.

In the second half, Germany took more control.

In the 58th minute, Germany again enjoyed too much time and space on the ball in their attacking third, and Jamal Musiala found Robin Gosens, whose elegant one-touch pass put Niclas Füllkrug in on goal. Left back Sergiño Dest arrived late, keeping Füllkrug in his place, and Germany took the lead. Three minutes later, Germany attacked the space again right at the top of the area. The United States were a little unlucky as Ream’s tackle on Musiala was deflected towards Füllkrug, who found Musiala in the box to make it 3-1. But while the lucky rebound may have helped, the goal seemed a reflection of the spaces Germany regularly attacked.

“It’s these fractions of a second that you need to be well positioned,” Berhalter said.

In the end, as Ream said, the result showed how much more the United States has to do to catch up with world powers. But the group also felt that, like last year’s World Cup, they were not far away.

“It’s frustrating because it’s just little moments,” Turner said. “I recently talked about how small moments could have made a big difference for us at the World Cup. And it’s like the same story.”

(Photo: Adam Glanzman/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

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