Top Stories

Sloppy USMNT needs to clean it up ahead of Jamaica

PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. Men’s National Team put in its poorest performance of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup so far on Sunday night. Yes, the team advanced to the semifinals to face off with Jamaica, but the team was sloppy with the ball and defended a lot against a Curacao side with nothing to lose.

Gregg Berhalter’s side picked up a 1-0 win over the Concacaf minnows at Lincoln Financial Field thanks to Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie connecting on the lone goal of the match. However, the side created only three shots on goal, were out-possessed for the first-team this Gold Cup, and didn’t prove anything new in the victory. It’s something that has to change for the USMNT, knowing a tougher opponent in Jamaica is coming on Wednesday.

“The interesting thing about this game is that in both Gold Cup and Copa America all the quarterfinals are tight,” Berhalter said in his post match press conference. “You guys wanted us to go out and win 5-0 when realistically we knew it was going to be a tough game. We had the lead and we made a decision on how we wanted to play the rest of the way.”

“We had the opportunities early to put a couple of goals in but we didn’t and we let them hang around. For us it’s about moving them out of position because their midfielders were compact against Weston and Christian. Especially in the first-half there wasn’t enough movement and I think we can do better at that.”

Despite starting the same 11 guys who punished both Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago, the USMNT were sloppy. In attack, Tyler Boyd and Paul Arriola were invisible and striker Gyasi Zardes offered two shots in total the entire 90 minutes. Pulisic put in a strong performance both offensively and defensively, but even Michael Bradley was a non-factor as he dealt with the talented Curacao midfielder, Leandro Bacuna.

The USMNT tried to press Curacao but the Caribbean side sliced through the hosts’ midfield on several occasions. Eventually, the USMNT allowed Curacao to have possession in the back in hopes of preserving their energy for the rest of the match. It was a strategy that had many USMNT fans on edge, knowing Curacao was still in the match until the final minute.

“I think they got through us because of our pressing,” Berhalter said. “We’re trying to press the goalie and he’s very good with his feet. We didn’t commit enough numbers forward for the press. In particular when we’re coming from one side we’re releasing our weak-side winger to join the press and I don’t think we did a good job of that.”

“When you try to add a midfielder to it they were able to find their No. 10. We didn’t concede that many chances but near the end they had more time with the ball which was dangerous. We weren’t going to press the goalie. Sometimes in the first-half we saw that the goalie would sit with the ball and we weren’t going to fall into that trap of costing us energy in the end of the game.”

It may feel somber to the USMNT as for the second-consecutive match they’ve only been able to score one goal, after 10 in the opening two group stage matches. They know they were put on the ropes by an underdog team who nobody expected to advance this far. It’s a performance that the team will try to take positives from and build on for a rematch with Jamaica in Nashville.

“It’s another shutout and we won the game,” Zardes told SBI. “You have to stay positive even when it may not have been the best performance overall. We want to continue progressing forward each and every game and getting better as a team.”

Jamaica clinched its spot with a 1-0 win over Panama earlier on Sunday. Darren Mattocks’ second-half penalty kick was enough for the Reggae Boyz, who like the U.S., had to deal with loads of pressure for their opponent. It will be the second time this month these sides will meet and the team already knows improvement is needed to advance.

“We’re all fit now, unlike the friendly,” left back Tim Ream told SBI. “We will look at the sloppiness from a few weeks ago and try to get better for a tougher test. I have no doubt in my mind that we will be ready and we will play for a final.”


  1. The analogy I have from American Football is a small option football team playing against a powerhouse passing team. The powerhouse moved the ball early got the score and then the little option team just kept eating clock going three yards at a time. Then the defense would get bored and get out of position would throw play action pass get into the red zone and throw 4 incomplete passes from the 18 yd line. The powerhouse would then try to make up for lost time and wing the ball 50 yds down field get intercepted and start the whole sequence over. The powerhouse was never in real grave danger but they never looked dangerous either. Curaçao was patient they tried to limit our chances by holding the ball. It literally looked like they were ahead with some of the time wasting techniques. They hold it in the back until the US got bored and someone would run at them and then they’d have space to move. Once we got it back we were too impatient.
    I do think that maybe we’ve been so much time on the offensive system that maybe defensive cohesion is lacking. We are not very coordinated when we do try to press, maybe it’s just because no one had tried to possess the ball against in the group matches.

    • Sorry brother- but shining the US Team in the light of a powerhouse is just the kind of delusion that has killed us. They simply don’t have the physical or technical talent to merit that nor to cruise/take the foot off the gas. That is precisely what they did for the rest of the game after scoring a singular goal. This from a team that GB has billed itself as a high energy, pressing team. The opposite was true- that’s how Curacao took it to them for 2/3s of the match. No tragedy- they won and move on but… it bothers me how complacent and nonchalant they were in squeaking by and justifying that stinker of a performance. They were quite fortunate to end it 1-0 and GB should be busting balls. Fact: IF they are fortunate enough to get by Jamaica (do not repeat the last lethargic showing)- which if they play hard they should- they best not play so lackadaisical and sloppy v Mexico or we will be humiliated.

      • Perhaps I should have said Power 5 Conference team but was trying to make it easy for non-AF followers to understand. I attempted to explain what happened, the US took it to them for 20-25 minutes and expected Curaçao to open up. Instead Curaçao became more patient and stretched out midfield which allowed them to get some dangerous counters including that 60 unobstructed dribble. The US responded by dropping Bradley and McKennie deeper. The front four should have also dropped deeper. They were unprepared for Curaçao’s deliberate play, you could see the US confused by Room just standing on the ball down a goal with 15 minutes to play. When the US did win the ball the front four were too far from the back 7 to connect and when Zardes did drop he didn’t have the skill to play it off. The US didn’t create a lot of chances but probably should have scored at least two more and then the game changes and we’re talking about a different narrative. That’s on Zardes and Bradley, they need to finish those chances. The team played like an inexperienced group which many of them are in elimination games, things didn’t go the way they thought and they had trouble understanding the necessary changes that GGG tried to make. It was a bad game I haven’t seen anyone saying differently but this sky is falling talk is just as ridiculous as that would be. The staff has some work to do for sure in how they want to stop counters and how to relieve pressure but that doesn’t mean we are terrible or that guys don’t care.

    • Look Johnny I’m a GT grad I hate the option we ran with Paul Johnson the past decade. The narrative our fans/alumni were sold this whole time is we couldn’t recruit at GT it wasn’t possible so bring in PJ and his ‘system’ to level the playing field.

      Thing is we won a Natty in 1990 and went toe to toe with FSU when I was in school late 90a early 00s. We were competing at those times. Somehow we convinced ourselves as an alumni and fan base at GT we couldn’t compete on a level playing field for recruits. Our new coach is slowly changing that paradigm and narrative and showing the fan base that our previous assumptions on needing some fancy ‘system’ wasn’t reality and we could actually compete all along but we’re t properly playing to our strengths and believed all the naysaying.

      Hate to use American football analogies but you mentioned it and wanted to show an example of a fanbase who was unnecessarily sold on a ‘system’ they didn’t need but made to believe they were because they couldn’t compete on talent.


      • Let’s see what your saying when Collins has actually coached a few games. I question your memory though from what I see Johnson was 3-2 vs Florida State and ended a 12 games losing streak to the Seminoles. He was 3-8 vs The Dawgs which is a little below average but they’d lost 7 straight before Johnson came and 14 of 17. Also if you notice the option team lost in my analogy just frustrated the favorite and annoyed their fans.

    • I was there during the George O’Leary years with Friedgan as OC those guys beat the dawgs three straight years and we consistently finished somewhere being ranked at the end of the season and would actually be consistently ranked somewhere in the top 25 those years. We tied FSU for the ACC conference championship a couple times too, they gave ties back then. My last year was the beginning of the Chan Gailey era and not so good. the Natty was before my time in 1990 when we had Bobby Ross coaching but he had George O’Leary and Friedgan as his coordinators. FSU was the powerhouse in the late 90s early 00s we didn’t get a win but we played them tough and those fights were what I remember from my schools days. We were also good enough back then to get a couple College Game Days on campus back then too. It was real at least from 98-02.

      We had some good times with PJ and who didn’t like a good end of game death march but we didn’t need to buy the narrative that because we couldn’t recruit top talent we need to punt on recruiting and behave like a service academy to fix the talent gap. In soo many ways PJ and his recruiting and it’s perception actually caused the talent gap at Tech to get worse.

      He’s available if y’all want him go for it.

  2. They wanted to play, we wanted to think
    They ran, we thought about our next step
    They fought, we strategized
    They took chances, we protected
    They had fun, we may have won but there was no fun on our team. Not even wining was fun last night.
    You can say we made it through to the next round. So what, if that’s what we are going to be.

    • It’s still a work in progress, have some perspective…..this overreaction to a stale performance is laughable and needs to have more of a measured critique in my opinion

  3. The only solution wil be to fire the stupid and lousy Bertalher’s brothers , they are going to destroy soccer/football in the USA.

  4. USSF is garbage!!! Never a football federation hate their own national team and care more another national team.
    We need some like Peckerman to rebuild and bring more of winning or attacking attitude. Sorry, MLS most MLS coaches are mediocre (NOTE: no MLS teams won current version CONCACAF Champion Leagues).

  5. A country of 160,000 inhabitants makes a game of it against the USA? That’s about 1/10th the size of Philly. Imagine making a team comprised from 1 out of every 10 Philadelphians and have that team taking it to the USA for some of the match. A win with a shutout, yes, but the USA players and staff should be embarrassed.

    • A majority of the squad were born and/or raised in the Netherlands a country of only about 17 million but with obviously a much richer tradition of soccer.

      • Johnny, yes they have decent players who play in Europe, but they are not that good. Last night was an embarrassment. While Curacao did beat Honduras, they were thoroughly outplayed. Eloy Room was impressive in that match and the only reason they weren’t bludgeoned. The shots in that match were 35(13) Honduras to 7(4) Curacao. I watched most of the first half and much of it was being played in one half of the pitch. As much as Curacao outplayed us last night, they were even more outplayed by Honduras.

        My point is that while Curacao isn’t bad, it is still a team that the U.S. should beat without too much difficulty.

      • FWIW, Curacao beat India earlier in June (if you wanna talk population). Also, in seven GC matches they have never conceded more than two goals in any singular match (including vs. Mexico). They are well-coached and very organized at the back. Was very arrogant of everyone to just expect a blowout victory when a modicum of research would have shown you it was unlikely. LD, Edu and Cobi Jones in particular were bad in this regard on the pre-game show.

      • OldNslow: Kip’s comment was about the size of Curaçao. We’ve seen size of a population isn’t really relevant especially when it has ties to a larger soccer power.
        If Honduras hadn’t had to play a road game at Jamaica they’d likely have advanced.

  6. The amateur commentators are way too critical. Obviously lack of professional playing time; high school subs maybe?

  7. Some of the comments GB makes are not very good. We’ve all said its not so much the results this GC but how the team plays. How is the system working and our we progressing? Are we creating chances and connecting passes and putting pressure on the other team in their third? Against group competition we showed we could in certain halves of those games albeit against low competition, but that’s is expected in GC group play. This game was a step back for sure. Maybe Jamaica is another blowout. But I feel like this is exactly what we did during BA 2.0 we’d blow a team out and then shit the bed in the next game when it mattered and did this repeatedly. GB saying things like we the fans want to see them win every game 5-0 is a crock of shit, we just want to see your team string a few passes together and create chances often instead of bunkering for most of the second half. Unfortunately it is now even debatable as to whether you could consider Curacao weaker competition given that if you read the clubs teams most of the Curacao team are on the books with, seven players in Eredivise another 6-7 in Eerste divisie and a few in EFL Championship and 2. Bundesliga and Portugal that reads pretty well. I’m definitely impressed with their FAs roster and team management and their manager had a pretty good tactical way to shut us down. I ask myself rethinking that second half in my mind who was more likely to score the next goal that match? It wasn’t the US. We were out coached this game plain and simple.

    In other news a club in China just made a 10MM bid for Jozy, if Toronto/MLS refues that deal that tells you something.

    • People can debate back and forth about the merits of Curacao, but I think they are missing the main point. In the second half, the US showed little effort and even less desire. There was no fire in this team. Curacao fought harder, obviously wanted the game more and the US looked like a bunch of disinterested spectators. There is absolutely no excuse for that and yet Berhalter made only one sub until very late, putting in Morris for Boyd. This, I think, is a very disturbing trend. Fighting hard to the end used to be a trademark of US teams. Still is with the women, but the men? Not so much, even in meaningful games. Some of that has to be on the coaches, especially since we have a very different set of players from the T&T game.

      • disagree that the US showed a lack of desire. they were outplayed in the 2nd half tho in execution and tactically sloppy, but to hang on like that and not cave showed desire while being outplayed

      • beachbum–I saw a lot of time when US players were just standing there watching, not even contesting passes. When the US got the ball, Curacao players immediately pressed and usually got a turnover.That’s not being outplayed, that’s being out hustled.

  8. “According to Steven Goff of Washington Post, Chinese club Jiangsu Suning FC have made a bid of $10 million for the Toronto FC striker (JOZY ALTIDORE), on the day the summer transfer window for the Chinese Super League opened.”

    IS THIS FOR REAL??!!!!!

  9. On the good news front Gio Reyna officially announced at Dortmund. Now as long as he follows the exact same timeline as Pulisic he should be joking the USMNT next March, done deal.

    • I’ll be happy if he ends up three quarters as good as his Dad. Three quarters of Claudio Reyna is probably better than any play maker we have now.

      • I was joking about my CP comparison but he actually seems more Pulisic than his dad. Plays better on the wing running at people. Maybe his dad was that way at this age too I don’t know.

    • MB90 is just too slow. He makes some decent passes but prone to losing the ball to much more athletic opponents. It seems like he lost 80% of midfield encounters.

      • he actually recovered many balls. it wasn’t his fault the US press sucked, nor was it his fault the Curacao press was effective in the second half. unfortunately there seem to be no currently available payers to sub in for him when he tired late; that’s not his fault either. Not saying MB was amazing, but he was not at the root of the problems against Curacao, which were; poor hold up play vs. the Curacao press to relieve pressure, Boyd was partcularly off last night for whatever reason and Arriola was Casper; poor execution of the US press which allowed Curacao to control tempo and pin the US back; poor finishing, various culprits

  10. The good thing is that Jamaica is not at all the same kind of team as Curacao. They aren’t nearly as good with possession and rely more on quick strikes, so the US should have more of the ball vs. Jamaica. Then the question is if Ream and Lima can keep up with attacks down the wings.

    • very good points imo, we’ll see if the US can create through possession without having to commit numbers too high too often without getting the payoff; McKennie, Bradley and all will need to be good in delaying the counter too


Leave a Comment