Top Stories

Soft USMNT out-worked, out-fought and outplayed by Canada

You would have thought the U.S. Men’s National Team missed the memo that there were real stakes involved in Tuesday’s match against the Canadian National Team. If the Americans were oblivious, they should have figured it out pretty quickly, when Canada jumped all over them from the opening moments of the match.

Even after Canada played the role of gracious hosts by missing some golden scoring chances in a goal-less first half, the USMNT slept right through the halftime alarm. USMNT fans hoping to see a second-half resurrection were instead treated to more of the same disjoined and directionless soccer.

More alarmingly, the Americans continued to be out-hustled and out-fought by a Canadian team that beat the Americans playing the same way the USMNT used to be known for playing.

“The first thing that stands out to me was desire, the desire of Canada,” Berhalter said. “The minimum we expect is to match that. We need to compete on every single play in games like this and that’s important. I don’t think it was lack of effort. I don’t think it was purposeful. I wasn’t happy with the desire that we displayed tonight to win the soccer game.”

What the USMNT lacked in desire, the Canadians had in abundance, which led to a one-sided encounter between one team playing with purpose, and another playing with little sense of urgency.

“(Canada) treated it like it was a cup final,” Bradley said. “They stepped up harder. They reacted quicker to every loose ball. In all the little ways, in a game like that, they were on top of things. When you have a team that has the upper hand in all those ways, over the course of 90 minutes, the bar swings in their favor.

“You can talk about tactics, this that and the other, but it’s just again, on a night like tonight, it’s just over the course of 90 minutes you have one team, play by play, minute by minute, that just manages to gain the upper hand and has a better grip on the game. Again, just because of what they put into it.”

Canada’s desire shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering it was one of the key talking points heading into the match. Canada coach John Herdman was prescient when on Monday he said Tuesday’s match wasn’t about tactics, but which team fought harder.

Herdman was confident his team would be up for the fight, and the Canadians certainly where. Unlike the Americans, who played soft and uninspired soccer.

“When we talk about the biggest disappointment, in my eyes, was the desire,” Berhalter said. “That desire leads to physical games. That desire leads to them competing on every single play.

“When you saw the emotion that they played with. Guys like (Samuel) Piette, (Steven) Vitoria in the back, these guys were playing with emotion and we didn’t match that. It carried them into being physical on every play, sometimes on the borderline of being a little bit dirty, but that’s soccer. That’s how the game is played sometimes and we have to come to terms with that side of the game.”

The USMNT has much more to come to terms with than just that. The effort was lacking on Tuesday, but so was the quality, and leadership, and the lineup selections. As much as Tuesday’s loss was about a group of young players enduring growing pains, it was also about a coach going through his own struggles to adapt to his first international coaching job.

The good news for Berhalter and the USMNT is they don’t have to wait too long for some redemption. They face Canada in Orlando in a month, in a match that will let us know whether Tuesday’s dreadful performance was just another case of growing pains for a young team, or the new normal for the USMNT.


  1. I was interested in the idea of a coach like Berhalter implementing a consistent system with the USMNT, but I was wrong. There’s no more time for things to start clicking. It’s unrealistic to think that things are going to turn around quickly enough to qualify for the 2022 WC under Berhalter.

    I don’t even want to watch USMNT matches anymore.

    Firing Berhalter isn’t enough, though. He’s a problem, but he was also set up to fail. The federation needs to clean house, top to bottom.

    Who can make that happen?

  2. We lost this game because Berhaulter was out-coached and the USMNT Players were out played. Mexico showed Canada the blueprint for beating us and Canada was able to follow it.
    1) Press high – Man mark the pivot point (Bradley) forcing easily defended passing lanes. Creating easy turn overs and a short field.
    2) Force Pulisic on a island where he cannot influence the game. The US lacks a complementary player that will force opponents to honor the threat on the opposite side of the field.
    3) Play quickly into space…the US team lacks speed at the LB, LCB, CDM & CM positions. Playing into space will force them to become stretched and out of position.
    4) Do the unexpected. Berhaulter cannot adapt on the fly….he has I single script and has built his roster around it. Throw a curve ball and the team will be unable to adjust.

    If USSF were smart they’d fire GB. But I don’t see that happening since none of them have the backbone to do it.
    Since we’re stuck with GB we have to hope that this loss will finally open his eyes to the fact his System/Strategy is worthless and he needs to create a system/style that fits our players and not pick players to fit his system.
    Drop the following players permanently – Ream, Bradley, Lovitz, Trapp, Roldan, & Baird.
    Start using the U-23 & U-20 players who are seeing 1st team minutes with their clubs (Dest, A. Robinson, CCV, EPB, Pax, Sabbi, Soto, etc…) as well as bringing back the older fringe players who are seeing consistent minutes (Alvarado, Holmes, Green, Morales, Williams, etc…). These players may not be better than who was at/in this last camp, but they can’t be any worse either. Most have the ability to grow/improve where as the dropped players are already at their peak and or on the downward slide.

    The sky isn’t falling….it fell. But there is still light at the end of the tunnel. Adams, Brooks, Weah, and others are still sidelined with injuries. There are 2-4 talents emerging from club youth ranks that will hopefully be ready shortly.

    If Dest commits he either takes over LB or splits time between RB & LB with Cannon as the other Right Wing-Back.
    CCV & EPB back-up Alvarado/Miazga.
    Long backs up Brooks
    Weah splits time with Sargent
    Morris the 4th striker.
    Williams/Morales back-up Adams for now. Until an option can be found.
    Pax/Ledezma/Mendez are fighting for the TBD spot & back-up.
    Keepers: Horvath/Johnson/Gonzalez/Hamid

  3. We need a better coach. If I’m the coach of any opposing team I say defend the wings and defend the crosses well. Also pressure Bradley and there midfielders they won’t be able to get comfortable with pressure and will turn the ball over. When they do turn the ball over let’s counter them with numbers forward. Berhalter doesn’t have any different styles of play he still has not taught this team to defend. A good coach has several styles of play both defensively and offensively and will adapt to the game. Berhalter in clutch moments in important games has not shown that and the players who you could tell by yesterday’s game no longer believe in him. Specially pulisic. That pulisic sub would be like taking out donovan except Berhalter is playing him out off position he is a number 10 and that is the position he likes look at past interviews where pulisic states he views himself as a #10. FIRE BERHALTER! HIRE TAB OR ALMEYDA OR ANYONE ELSE who can teach the several styles of play.

    • You went to the grocery store, handpicked your ingredients, got home, worked for hours preparing. Called your closest friends for dinner, got them hyped up… talking about the process and how long it took. … then You serve them microwave dinners. When everyone doesn’t like the food, you then say, “It wasn’t season, properly!” “There was no desire for it to taste good!“. What?! You picked the ingredients and prepared them. Man, I must be really hungry,✌️

      • …not only that … but you have your players, who didn’t play v Cuba, after the match, run sprints, and do exercises and Miles Robinson pulls his hammy while participating. It came out on sports talk radio, here in the Atl. The Atl United brass is pissed @ GB and the USSF. Larry, Ives, and JR type of info, right here, people. ?!

  4. My “Beerholder has no clue” came when he played Adams at RB way back when…

    In any self-respecting soccer country, the federation would have pulled the plug on him after the recent debacles and last night’s horror show.

    Beerholder has ejected very quickly when he was managing in Europe – we need to do the same.

    The guy has no tactical clue, no charisma, and his smug “I’m smarter than all of you it’s never my fault” arrogance is quite irritating.

    • I guess the red bulls didnt have a clue either because Tyler had played RB long before Greg tried him there, but more importantly when he played RB for NYRB he was the best in the league at that position, ao lwta not act like it was a new foray for him. Now, Greg wantes to try him there in this hybrid role but im sure those days are over, especially considering the team hasnt run the hybrid system in months

      • @Ronniet: that Adams had played RB with success in MLS in besides the point. Adams is obviously hyper talented, and I’m sure there are many positions where he can thrive, especially at the MLS level. Anyway, he quickly “graduated” to a more influential and important position on the field, so whatever happened before is a bit irrelevant.

        The point is that, when Berhalter tried the experiment, Adams was an established started in central midfield for a Champions League quality team, with dominant performances at that position in one of the strongest soccer leagues on the planet.

        So why on earth would a coach think it’s a good idea to put him in a role where his influence would lesser on the game? And it’s not like the US have anyone good these days in central midfield.

        It’s such a pivotal position to build a team around, that yes, toying with the idea of Adams at RB on the USMNT so you can start an inept Trapp or an over-the-hill Bradley is indeed, not having a clue.

    • We should resurrect “the special one TV” with Beerholder guest hosting for or co-hosting with Mourinho. That would be hilarious. They could debate the scarf vs v-neck sweater among other soccer related stuff.

  5. “Soft USMNT out-worked, out-fought and outplayed by Canada”……haha ?, it should be more like a “talentless and clueless” heavy USMNT out-worked, out-classed, out-fought, out-coached and outplayed by Canada

    Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.

    Most players on the USMNT have absolutely none of the above ?.

    It’s better to just accept it now, so the next time we experience a disgraceful defeat we’ll all just shrug our shoulders and sleep it off. Favoritism is continuing to be the downfall of the USMNT who again continue to field THE SAME talentless players with no ability…….we need a coach that sees a player’s current talent /abilities rather than their past experience/resumes and that is not going to happen any time soon. So lets all just hold the #$%@ on and continue to brace for impact because its going to be a long ride of disappointments.

    GO USA ??!!!!! GO USMNT!!!!!

    • We certainly need new players or players they can actually play the system but Sargent, Pulisic, and McKennie were bad too. Sargent couldn’t find openings against a CB who couldn’t play in MLS and one whose a starter for the 2nd worst team. McKennie was taken out of the game by a 21 year old who hasn’t played for TFC since July. It’s not like we have a surplus of talent out there better than those three. I can’t even blame Bradley that much anyone with a basic understanding of the rosters would know he can’t cover Davies and when you put him, Ream, and Lovitz trying to cover him all the positioning in the world won’t matter. Did Berhalter not watch the tape of Pizzaro running past Ream and Bradley in the GC. Davies is faster than Pizzaro. I know your going to say he’s the linking piece but Bradley and CB routinely got it to Roldan who would just pass it right back to Osorio. If your going to start that midfield put Bradley at the 10 and let McKennie run with Davies.

      • Tell me exactly who can keep up with Davies in a foot race though, and i mean globally? No one, so while Ream got beat a few times by Davies it didn’t lead to any goals. Playing frantically is what led to goals, morw to the point the ability to do nothing offensively is what led to the onslaught on goal

      • Right but when you could have gone Miazga and Long and been essentially equal defensive wise and better speed wise. People are talking about not beating pressure when really we got out of the back for the most part it was in midfield where we kept turning it over. Literally passing perfectly weighted balls to the feet of Osorio and Arfield to play to Davies running at goal. With the FBs pushed up it was only a matter of time before Davis and Davis 2 on 2 against the CBS would score.

      • Johnny
        to summarize this way in the best way possible, this outcome would be exactly the same (pressure, lack of cohesiveness, being overrunned) if Bradley was given a red card 5 minutes into the first half. He is given the biggest responsibility on the team and he is the biggest bust on the team. He is responsible for the cohesiveness of the team, tempo of the game, orchestrating and building the attack from the back and he failed….in all areas. He doesn’t have a high work rate anymore, any ability to relieve pressure, any quickness or speed, any ability to keep the ball (vision and technical passing), any tactical astute or any aerial ability. He isn’t a good tackler, blocker or interceptor and he doesn’t have the speed to be relevant. So why is he always on the team, part of every team rebuild (even tho he is part of the problem) and part of every major embarrassment the USMNT has experienced (since his arrival on the team) from CONCACAF minnows?

    • Go to the Half Spaces ratings, Bradley was bad a +1, anything below 5 is a bad performance. Roldan was -10. None of that was on Bradley, Roldan just continued to pass the ball directly to the defense at around midfield. Bradley was getting him the ball in space and he’d miss open guys and just turn it over. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was Adams or Nage or Cameron in that spot because Bradley cycled the ball as he should and Roldan turned it over. Now maybe Bradley should have just started ignoring Roldan and tried to force into Sargent or McKennie they both also had a ton of trouble in possession.

      • ” It wouldn’t have mattered if it was Adams or Nage or Cameron in that spot because Bradley cycled the ball as he should and Roldan turned it over”

        Spot on….you are right!!!! NOBODY can play with Bradley in the midfield. There has never been a successful tandem in midfield with Bradley starting. Never!!! Better player have fail so who is Roldan to succeed. MB has been absolute none existent as far as impacting his team yet Roldan is excelling in MLS because of who he partnered with, Nagbe is excelling in MLS because of who he is partnered with, Beckermann IS STILL PLAYING AT 37, Jermaine Jones excelled in the Bundesliga because who he was partnered with. Bring them around MB and they cannot work in a complementary manner what so ever. A terrible #6 throws the whole game out of wack. Like I said during the days of Klinsmann, the USMNT will never be successful with MB in the center. Here we are 3 coaches later and we are get thrashed by Canada.

      • ESPN

        ‘MF Michael Bradley, 3 — A tough night for Bradley. He made the mistake that ultimately led to the Ream giveaway and the Canada goal. There were other giveaways as well and little passing to move things forward.

        MF Cristian Roldan, 2 — Was lucky that his early first-half giveaway to Jonathan David went unpunished. So many lost balls, which you simply can’t have from someone playing his position in midfield.’

        Its on BOTH of them. Little passing to move things forward or control the midfield or build an attack. It all starts with MB. If he sucks (which is regularly) and the whole team is off.

  6. Glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks Berhalter is a bust. it’s bad enough to lose to Canada, but this team looked defeated from the opening whistle. Any body with half a brain knows now that to beat the US you apply high pressure as they try to play from the back and you do it early. If Berhalter had a clue he’d be ready to counter that. Everybody looked bad, but Tim Ream and Michael Bradley should be out of excuses.

    • It’s like Berhalter wanted them to fail so he can stop calling them in. In what planet would Ream Lovitz and Bradley be able to keep up with Davies. Even Long struggled with his pace.

  7. This whole “softness” argument is total BS and meant to distract us from the fact that Berhalters system and tactics is a total failure. Players are caught up so much trying to implement his system, told to play calmer on the ball and maintain possession, building up slowly. They are told to not press high. And when this is clearly not working, there is no plan B. Other top 50 teams with competent coaches can easily counter his predictable tactics. This narrative of effort might work for low soccer IQ fans and it sounds predicatably American coming out of the Philosopher Jogger’s mouth, but it is not that simple. If the Federation was smart, they would be urgently looking for a replacement to Berhalter.

    • I think I agree with this. There’s no way that all these guys came out without “desire”. These are professionals who have battled their way to soccer stardom, one way or another through a lot of hard work. They were playing on national tv with their reputations on the line. I can’t point at any of them and say they lacked “effort.” They really just looked disjointed and sometimes confused. More like they were unsure at times whether to battle for the 50-50 ball or drop off. As others have said, it’s questionable whether it’s possible to artificially create a system for a national team that only trains and plays a few times a year. That debate aside, all the tactics were so wrong for this one. Not pressing a weak defense?! Not matching up a speedy attacker with a speedy defender?! And if something isn’t working, you get one chance at halftime, which we got, to make some changes, and nothing?! The midfield was so dreadful, reminded me of the world cup game when Bob Bradley started Rico Clark, who had a stinker, but to Bob’s credit he made the change at halftime and it got us back into the game. Roldan was not working, make a change! We have been consistently outcoached within games in every close match so far. I’m old enough to remember Berhalter as a player, and very fondly. But he should officially be on the hot seat now, and must redeem himself next month, or I’ll join the guy with all caps clamoring for a change.

    • i also think that the normal response to substandard results or low effort, even if i took him at his word, would be roster churn. the man has a consistent ensemble cast like tim burton or the coen bros. you don’t get to blame the players if you call the same set this consistently. cause the normal response to players looking befuddled or lethargic would be tactical changes or cutting players. if you show back up same tactics same people i assume you did this on purpose and it’s not the players’ fault.

    • Agree 100%. It is all on the coach. He is either oblivious or a ego dude. We get dominated by Venezuela, Mexico twice and Canada and the guy is talking about a process. The players in every case have looked uncertain confused, hesitant and under motivated. Then he throws them under the bus because they are poorly prepared, poorly coached and confused etc. If this is the process no thanks. We will likely beat a Canada in the rematch but the current coach cannot fix the problems he has created. It is time to get a new coach before we get into qualification which is fast approaching,

    • Honestly I think the players effort showed how little they believe in and how tired they are with Beerholders system. There are never any adjustments it’s just keep jamming a square peg in around hole because Greg knows his system ultimately will work isn’t that the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a better result? And the players seem to be devoid of any of their own ideas. I can imagine Donovan hero never listen to this would’ve took the game upon himself handling things and how he saw they should go not just following orders maybe they’re getting benched and no more caps but that’s the way he would’ve done it. Sadly Greg’s not gonna get fired because Ernie is his buddy. What really needs to happen is a two for one special and Carlos that would be your call if you have any balls.

    • That’s partially true but it doesn’t explain away everything. We actually controlled the game from about minutes10-20 or 25. Had the possession Yedlin and Morris hit in some crosses. Then Fraser wracked McKennie and Osorio brought down I think Roldan and after that we got no 50/50 balls and stopped going at people. There’s being confused but as the balls rolling to them you can’t tell me a professional is going wait what dies Gregg want me to do because even in the system the answer is always get the ball first. The whole idea is to have as much of the ball as possible. The passes behind players or into empty space that’s on overthinking not going for a ball is just not having desire.

  8. Beer holder has to go. I can’t stand the smug arrogance espoused by a coach who hasn’t won anything and is captaining a rudderless ship. Get rid of the banana republic slim-fit sweaters, do a couple of push ups, and realize your continental, fashion tactics won’t work with our group of players and run directly counter to our “American” style of play.

  9. It was evident from the start that this team has not learned a damn thing since Oct. 10th, 2016. Ahead of the game, Bradley talking about how worthless the Nations League is, etc.

    We can talk about tactics, formations, etc.all we want. At the end of the day, there is a serious mentality problem within this program.
    We want to think that we are better than our region and destined to do better things on the world stage. Our bubble was burst and here we are.

    Players before them earned it. These players have earned nothing.

    This all started years ago. Post 2014, we had an opportunity to reboot. We did not – we decided to retread the same old. Heading into Copa 2016, we had an opportunity. We did not. It has all been a culmination. Qualifying, we ran on the fumes of the past and ran out of gas.

    The gap in talent between the age of 30 to 23 is a major flaw.
    That age group should be our leaders but we have none.

    We are asking our kids to take the mantle before they are ready to.
    So now we suffer the growing pains.
    Landon and Beasley had the luxury of being naive kids until their mid twenties before they took the mantle.
    McKennie and Pulisic have not had that. Its unfair.

    It was heart breaking watching Pulisic on the bench last night. And listening to the post game interview. His head is a freaking mess.
    Yes, he took on the big move to Chelsea, and benefited from the fame.
    The expectations have crashed down on him.

    This federation is a sham. Can’t wait to see Jay Berhalter become CEO – watch that.

    • No not Jay. The dumpster fire becomes a nuclear meltdown. I don’t want to believe, but I would be shocked if it were anyone else. Another 10 years of mediocrity.

    • Like the post-KC! It’s my belief that Julian Green is my best candidate for the armband. Bayern Munich academy, didn’t break in the 1st team. Scored in a WC, went out on multiple loans, still didn’t make 1st team. Came back from injury early in his career. Step down in leagues. He has experience in tempering expectations, and has big match experience. Was off the National teams radar for awhile and he still had the will to play for USMNT, (i.e. Morales) Is only, 24 years old, and can play in the attack mid-10, or the 9. He has nothing to do with what happened v Canada, just my opinion, of who should pull the strings. Here’s to hoping T. Adams is healthy, and there’s a line up change in Orlando. It seems GB calls in the same players and then speaks about the players desire?! Reminds me of a commercial “Thanks Captain Obvious!”

    • I’d argue the fanbase is ego driven too, and for what reason? We’ve never won anything outside of the Gold Cup, and have only had marginal reaults in bigger tournaments so why should we expext to be better when we couldnt beat the likes of Jamaica, Panama, Coata Rica and some others under Klinsmann and Bruce Arena dating back 2-3 years ago. For me the next to lowest point for this federation was not making the GC Finals under Klinsmann and then losing to Panama in the 3rd place game

  10. setting aside the issue of player compensation, it occurred to me that the Fed treats the USWNT as more of a hot seat. perhaps because the team is more successful they do not tolerate downward form dips for very long. they assume the team has talent and hold the coach to account for failure. interestingly, the snob drive to change the player and style through the coach would invert that process as the player becomes a viable blame object, eg, “system needs time to work.” ie the players don’t yet do what i am telling them to. otherwise we should assume our players are reasonably talented, leave to the coach how to exploit that talent, but then hold him accountable to substandard results. that he was trying a system thing then is just his excuse for not getting the expected results, and is actually grounds for firing. i appreciate you tried something different, and perhaps we needed some of that, but this is your one note, it doesn’t play, and the results aren’t there.

    • agree with you again. if this was a developmental league, a team for developing players…ok. but this is a results oriented team. yes, still developing always, etc. BUT results oriented. What some see as a lack of desire I see as confusion on how to play, how to react to the situation, the moment, because of uncertainty; that goes from tactics to technical ability and understanding to execute those tactics, and more, a team belief from every player in the tactics and ability to execute them. I do not see that. Also, because of insistence of a certain tactical approach, certain players are included to fill roles in those tactics; perhaps the tactics should fit the best players in the pool, not the other way around? And finally, just because you play in the PL or somewhere else in Europe doesn’t mean you are the best choice for THIS team. You might be, but maybe not; I like Yedlin, but he’s a perfect example

  11. “What the USMNT lacked in desire”
    I don’t agree that we should accept Berhalter’s assessment at face value. Pulisic’s face coming off, McKennie’s intensity in confrontation with CAN players, and other factors show not a lack of desire, but a complete and total confusion/frustration with how they’ve been lined up to play and how to be successful. Berhalter waxed and waned about being calm over and over before this match. Then, he pivots and says we didn’t match emotion. Nevermind that Berhalter simply refused to make tactical adjustments, he didn’t get the squad selection right, and was outfoxed by the opposing manager. He needs to shoulder the responsibility to get his players prepped to play, and we can’t rely on a bunch of twenty odd year olds to somehow figure out international football.

    Who is this team’s captain? It’s almost been a year. This team has no identity, no coherent spirit, and (if no desire) these are the responsibility of the manager to establish. He’s rotated the armband for the better part of a year, indicating that the leadership role at the player level hardly matters – and if that’s so, then it falls on the manager to lead. He hasn’t.

    Berhalter out.


  13. “Trust the process.” — This is now your cue to throw your head back in absolute laughter when Berhalter says that….They may have had limitations but the 2002 squad of Landon Donovan, Beasley, McBride, Cherundolo, Hejduk, Friedel, was the best put together squad because they actually got the freaking job done….Even Berhalter was on that team…There’s no freaking spine to this current team…They get knock down and stay down….They are slow in possession, freak out when pressed, and look worse and worse each time…Hate to say this, but have a bad feeling it will get even worse under Berhalter down the road….

    • What you are talking about is a lack of mental toughness. They take punishment and don’t give it back. I know people don’t like it when I bring up Klinsmann, but he has some good ideas. Early on in his tenure he said that the US needs to get nasty. That is exactly what happened with this game. Canada was and we took it and the ref allowed it. It led to turnover after turnover. I think we had no more than a couple of tough tackles like Canada did. Recently about CP’s troubles, Klinsmann said that CP needs to get his elbows up, and fight through his situation. Same thing as before, US players are still lacking toughness. When a team plays physical, they need to out physical them. We need 3 or 4 players like Jermaine Jones.

      • Can’t agree more. I would bring JJ out of retirement from the indoor league and put him on team for the sole purpose of teaching these kids Concacaf football. Blood and guts as the Canadian coach said. ( Who we should steal from the Canucks to replace GB)

      • AGREED! That’s why I brought up the group from the early to end of first decade 2000s team…They weren’t afraid to get scrappy when needed…They absolutely knew who they were, and didn’t care if it wasn’t pretty soccer….We need a defender like Gooch who’s going to stare you down and not care if he hauls you down…Need a destroyer that’ll make attacking midfielders think twice about dribbling down the middle (Jermaine Jones type)…Mentally weak team now

Leave a Comment