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USMNT turns in poor performance with experimental lineup vs. Jamaica

WASHINGTON — There are subpar performances and then there are poor ones.

The U.S. Men’s National Team’s latest showing was admittedly the latter.

A 1-0 loss to Jamaica that was immediately followed by a smattering of boos saw the U.S. start its summer camp on the wrong foot on Wednesday. The Americans were undone at Audi Field by a second-half golazo from Shamar Nicholson, but their overall display over the course of 90 minutes in an experimental 5-4-1 formation left a lot to be desired.

“The guys tried. I think we gave a decent effort,” said USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter when asked what his message to the fans would be after the discouraging and flat outing. “We didn’t play well and you’re going to have nights when you don’t play well. I’m not sure to be that volatile that you turn against a team after one poor performance.

“There’s going to be more. As time goes on, there’ll be more poor performances when I’m coach. I guarantee it and that’s part of it, but are the guys bought in? Are they working hard? Are we executing the type of soccer we want to execute? We’re getting there.”

It was hard to see much progress in the friendly against the Reggae Boyz. The Americans began the game well by taking the match to Jamaica. The initial wave of intensity was soon replaced, however, by unimaginative play, predictable passes, and overall complacency.

What transpired was a disjointed effort that ended with Berhalter’s first loss as U.S. boss and just one shot on goal, which came in the 89th-minute.

“It was really something to learn from,” Berhalter said. “There were some positives. I think one of the objective of this first camp was to play an alternate formation, so we achieved that. I think there’s tweaks we can make to that formation to make it better, make it function better. Overall, I think that was positive.

“The negative, I think we lacked speed, we lacked aggression in the final third. When you talk about when the the ball is wide, there should be four guys in the penalty box. We only had two half the time, even when we won the ball in good positions. Now it’s time to counter, now it’s time to really enforce ourselves on the opponent. We didn’t do that.”

While Berhalter stated that he had some of his players work in the new formation as far back as last week during the initial days of preparation with members from the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team, one explanation for the disappointing effort was because of the lack of repetitions some of Wednesday’s starters had in the setup. Newness can bring with it discomfort, and that seemed to be the case for several players in the lineup.

Attacking midfielder Cristian Roldan, for example, said after the defeat on Wednesday that he only began practicing in the formation a day earlier. He did not join the U.S. camp until Monday because he had a game with the Seattle Sounders over the weekend, and that short turnaround presented part of the challenge for him and others.

“I think number one, you have to be bold,” said Roldan. “You have to understand that it’s a new formation and we’re testing it out, essentially, and you only have a couple days to learn it. Obviously, we would like more information because it is a different formation, but it’s really hard to do that in a couple days.”

“You watch a lot of film, you have a lot of meetings, and obviously you can’t get it perfect every time,” added Roldan. “There’s still different players that have different roles that have different tendencies that change kind of the complexity of the formation.”

New formation or not, the U.S. will have another friendly to fine-tune things ahead of the Concacaf Gold Cup. A match against Venezuela is on the docket for Sunday, and it will serve as the final opportunity to work on things before the games start to mean more with points on the line.

The Americans will be looking for a better result this weekend, as well as a better performance.

“Overall, the effort was okay, but we performed poorly tonight,” said Berhalter.


  1. the other thing about this game which was frustrating- and frankly shocking- was our utter inability or inclination to counter. everything seemed to be based on slow development from the back, even when faced with repeated opportunities to react quickly on the counter. this is soccer 101 at any level.

  2. i’ve been watching the usmnt closely and loyally since 1993- hundreds of games- and this is the first time i’ve ever wished that an opponent scored. wished we’d lose, actually. not nearly good enough- not even for a C team (which i believe this is). perhaps a bit unfair, but how can one possibly watch the u-20’s and not hope several of those guys can quickly be invited to nat camps. these are growing pains, i get it. we have much talent in disparate segments throughout our system. berhalter says the toughest part of the job is the integration and management of many players? welcome to the world of international soccer, where nations have a depth of talent. good thing we have time, but i’m far from confident ussoccer or berhalter is up for the challenge.

  3. All this talk about effort – I thought it was entitled and lazy. And pathetic. They needed a fire lit under their arses at half. The most depressing part is that they were outplayed and outclassed from a pure soccer perspective. You’d pick the USL Jamaicans to win that matchup 10 times out of 10. 2nd loss to a Caribbean nation on home soil in the last 50 years? Yeah, their performance was about on par with that. I wouldn’t wish those 90 minutes on my worst enemy.

  4. How is a new formation to blame for all the poor, sloppy passes of only 10 yards that led to giveaways? Hows does it explain how Jamaica got most of the 50/50 balls.? Berhalter saw some positive things? He needs to take off his rose colored glasses. This effort was so putrid that they probably would have lost to the US U-20 team. This team could have played until next week and never scored. Please spare us the phony excuses.

  5. That was the most horrific midfield I’ve ever seen the US put out…. Milhailovic, Roldan, Yueil, Trapp… none of these dudes are good enough

    • Absolutely true. And the worst of the bunch was Trapp. Will GB do anything? I dont think so, Like Klisnmann before him, hes so sure he’s right, he will never change. I think he will prove to be a giant mistake

  6. I see the “Christian Roldan apologist” sect is alive and well in the SBI staff. Please. The guy was the senior playmaking MF in this side. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t create a single meaningful chance against a non-Hex CONCACAF side. And of course he has an excuse (“we only started practicing it yesterday!!!”). Bollocks. This guy is a B- minus No. 6 masquerading as a D+ No. 10.

    • Not apologizing for him at all. I personally don’t like him in a No. 10 role. I don’t think that suits him at club level and especially not at country.

      In this piece, I’m just reporting what he said. In my breakdown tomorrow morning, I’ll have my analysis.

      • Ok fair play. You’re def right about the number 10 thing…. will look out for your piece tm

      • wow, franco panizo. you said that you would be participating in the discussions and wow, here you are. you kept your word. i’m impressed.

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