Top Stories

Berhalter already establishing an identity with USMNT players


New U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter is still fresh on the job, but he’s already getting positive reviews from his players.

One of his primary tasks is establishing some sort of consistent identity for the USMNT. He said so himself in his introductory press conference. He wants to install a style that is uniquely American. Once he finds that vision for the squad, he will need to get his players on board. Thankfully, he seems to have a pretty good start on both thanks to his experiences with the Columbus Crew.

“When you have a manager that has a real identity, a real idea of how he wants his team to play and goes about it in a way that Monday to Friday, talking about practice and training, you’re working on that, then real things can be accomplished,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said at Thursday’s press conference leading up to MLS Cup.

“Clearly Columbus is a team that worked on their style of play, how they want to build out of the back,” he continued, “how they want to keep the ball, how they want to create advantages on the field, similar to what we do here in terms of 11 v 11, and I know some of the other guys have done interviews before where they’ve talked about doing training here, it’s about being repetitive and going through situations, going through scenarios that happen in a game that ultimately you feel comfortable when being pressed, when playing out of tight situations.”

Berhalter’s style in Columbus is a possession based system that looks to be patient as it builds up attacks. It’s the sort of attack that relies on creating space through good ball movement and players working hard off the ball. Some players are on board with this vision and think that Berhalter is just the guy they USMNT needs.

“I’ve seen the way he worked with the team in Columbus and the style of play that they had. I like it,” said left back Jorge Villafana. “When you have that kind of style, what you have the ball, when you open the field, you create more opportunities and I think the U.S. right now more than anything needed a coach like Gregg. It’s a great hiring and I think he’s going to do great moving forward.”

Strong first impressions are important, but the real effects will come once Berhalter hits the ground in January camp. That’s when the real change can begin to take hold. They won’t be easy, but Guzan knows what to expect.

“I think it’s going to be good,” the goalkeeper said. “I think Gregg has got it spot on in terms of changing the idea of what U.S. Soccer and how we are perceived around the rest of the world. Of course, when you try to change something, it’s never easy and you have to be willing to put in hard work and I think he’s someone who clearly understands the game. He works hard and his team reflects the amount of preparation they put into it.”



  1. I know he is not popular on this SBI, but one of the few players on the USMNT who has shown the ability to work hard and move off the ball to provide options for teammates is MB.

    If the US had more players with his mentality, we would be better, but for whatever reason, too few seem able to move to good spots to support teammates. I suspect it is not laziness, but an inability to see what can happen next if they simply move to better spots. The location of those better spots changes every time the ball or another player moves, so constant awareness and movement is essential. (a couple of the young players who I think have shown this are Sargent and Adams, too many others seem to simply stand and wait or to hide.)

    Developing that mentality and awareness is something that a national team coach cannot accomplish to any great degree simply because he sees far too little of the players in training situations. The coach needs to select players who already have those qualities ingrained, then fine-tune the safety vs risk trade-offs players should make in various situations, in different regions of the field or against different opponents.

      • I never said that. One he will be too old by then and he was never the fastest player on the team. But, and there is no denying this< he was the one player the USMNT could count on to always be in an open position for a teammate's pass. It was no fluke that he received more passes than any other player on the team, way too often he was the only player both open and visible to the man with the ball.
        None of the other players seemed to be able to do that. MB is a perfect example of what a defensive midfielder should do to provide help for his teammates. No attacker for the US seemed to be able to do that, even Dempsey hid for long stretches in games. Maybe Beasley, but Donavon was expert at playing balls into space that Beasley had the speed to beat everyone else to, so I am not so sure Beasley is that guy either.

  2. So a few players offering quotes about how they’ve seen his sides play is “establishing identity with players” now? good grief.

  3. Oh ya, I am a perfect fit for the new boss’s team! He should absolutely keep me in mind for a starting position on the team going forward. – said ageing fringe player who’s vastly underrated because of how the previous coach used him.

  4. And the pr begins. Just forget that we have heard all this before. The theory is good, it’s whether we have the players to implement it. They are coming, but it will take a couple of years.

    • We have a great U-20 group and they’re not much younger than the MNT that has been playing recently. The future is looking good. In June when we were playing Columbus I pointed down at Berhalter and stated that he will be our next MNT coach no one paid attention. We as USMNT supporters have been through a lot recently but I believe we have reason to be optimistic now. I hope Tab Ramos gets the Olympic job and eventually the full MNT job but for now I’m ok with what we have for a future. Vamos! Vamos! Vamos ATL!

  5. “It’s the sort of attack that relies on creating space through good ball movement and players working hard off the ball. ”

    The players working hard off the ball is critical and one of the things that has been lacking in the past. Requires total commitment by every player or……. won’t work.

  6. No offense but two guys that I don’t think are particularly important to us going forward weighed in positively hoping to brown nose and get some more chances? Yawn


Leave a Comment