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Six players make USMNT debuts in goal-less draw with Wales

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The 10-month wait for a U.S. Men’s National Team match came to an end on Thursday, but the wait for USMNT goals continues.

A total of six players made their USMNT debuts, including Gio Reyna, in a 0-0 draw with Wales on Thursday.

The match, played in a steady rain, showcased some of the considerable young talent in the USA pipeline, with teenagers Reyna, Yunus Musah and Konrad De La Fuente making their first appearances for the USMNT.

The match was light on clear-cut chances, with Zack Steffen making a pair of saves in the shutout.

The Americans had some looks as well, with Sebastian Lletget and Uly Llanez providing shots on goal that tested the Wales defense.

The Americans controlled the majority of the match despite being the visiting team, finishing with a 61-39 edge in possession, producing seven shots to Wales’ four shots.

Berhalter deployed Sebastian Lletget as a false nine, choosing the LA Galaxy midfielder ahead of natural strikers Sebastian Soto and Gioacchini, with Reyna and De La Fuente operating on the wings.

The match marked the return of Tyler Adams, who made his first USMNT appearance in 20 months, and the RB Leipzig midfielder turned in a strong performance, as did fellow central midfielders Weston McKennie and Musah.

Reyna, Musah, De La Fuente, Johnny Cardoso, Nicholas Gioacchini and Owen Otasowie all made their USMNT debuts on Thursday.

The match ended a 10-month hiatus for the USMNT, which hadn’t played since February due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Americans next play on Monday in Austria against Panama.

Comments

  1. i also felt like the midfield defense was 100% better. better positioning, more hustle, more ball winning. i think what we need for mexico and costa rica is more like that. younger people who can run sideline to sideline and bottle them up more of the day. i think we way overrate the value of 6s who stand around and make passes. most are defensive liabilities and not that productive on offense when you check the stats.

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  2. to lob another thought-grenade in there, if the judge of your ideas is how they pan out in practice, yeah, he tried some people out of position, and his backers can justify it by some experience on game logs, but be real, how much did lletget 9/ reyna wide/ musah central pay off? in reality we played to 0-0 and they all looked a little like they had spark but also were awkward. too cute for his own good. he scouts pretty hard but needs to get out of his own way on game management. start the right people in their normal positions. not that hard. i assume he expected to have sargent and pulisic at 9 and 10 but c’mon dude adapt a little.

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    • Musah played all last year as a CM and has always played there for England. If you look at where Reyna was on the field it is the exact same space as his club matches. He just didn’t have Haaland and Sancho to combine with. Completely agree Lletget as a 9 not good.

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      • again, Musah played “some” CM for Valencia B. he also played a lot wide in cup games, and transfermarkt only has his position for maybe half the contests. they then played him exclusively wide on the first team. reyna plays the majority of the time in the middle for dortmund, and it’s where he has all his goals and assists this season. it’s where he had most of his G and A as a junior before that. and you’re missing my point, which is while you can create a before-fact “justification” — this sort of, “but he was used there last year” or “has played a third of the time there this season” — it’s not their primary use and — more importantly — WITH THE BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT WE CAN SEE IT DIDN’T REALLY WORK. part of the problem with the US these days is it’s like the abstract arguments survive practical repudiation. you thought masks didn’t work, i did, knowing what happened, only one of us is correct, to to speak. he got cute, he can justify it somewhat, NONE OF IT WORKED. i’m practical and judge by does it work. if you get repeatedly cute and it never works, maybe try doing the obvious thing.

  3. am going to say that people often respond to my experimental wishes by acting like we wouldn’t get results and hopefully last night put that silliness to bed. we aren’t getting that many results “trying to win” so maybe step back and spend a few games identifying who else can contribute. to me when you cumulatively find some people each game trying this approach you soon find the 11 and 23 you need to actually win more often — for real or friendlies. so as with portugal or france or the first mexico game we see that if you put some faith in the pool there may be some more players out there, and they will give you as much a fighting chance as the regulars.
    qualification — please try some new backs. particularly CB is getting stale and you need to find someone who can mark a guy out of a game.

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    • What you say is fine in theory and is pretty much what we did in this game, throwing out a bunch of young kids who had no international experience and little club experience. The problem with what you preach is that it is good in theory, but meet reality. Based on my memory, we have the game with Panama, the January camp with MLS players, then an international break in March where we can use both domestic and international players, then June and competitions start. That means two games where we can start to integrate the two pools of players and start to put a real team together. Given the schedule, there’s not a lot Berhalter can do to change it, but it’s getting to the time where he needs to start focusing on potential starters and forget the newbies for now. Come competition time he’ll want to cap tie Reyna ( to make sure) and Musah, maybe Soto, but otherwise defer playing some of the young kids and let them get their time in Olympic qualifying.

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      • i think what wins is “talent.” get the right talent out there in the right positions and it will look “integrated” enough. to me for the last half decade we get the cart in front of the horse in terms of when to evaluate and when to gel. the coach picks winners off paper and then perseverates. far as i am concerned we have through march to play around, you put the real 23 in a long camp for NL + quali in the summer — that will get you integration — and then you can experiment some more in gold cup. to me the more impact players you identify the better your chances are long term. i think the idea of gelling last year’s bunch plus maybe reyna and adams gives the coach too much credit for identifying the right ones to begin with, and ignores the results last year. and in terms of integrating that bunch, they had a year and GIGO.

      • i also think if you had better backs, a true 9 and 10 out there, it would look even better. it looked a little discombobulated because there was no good leading central element. everything went wide. there was no plan to get the ball in the box to feet.

  4. i liked Steffen Adams McKennie Musah delaFuente (starters) and Llanez (off the bench). Reyna looked awkward wide and I would like to see him played central — or perhaps given a game where the wings run the offense instead of being overlapped by wingbacks all night — which i thought was backward tactics. to me games like this are for identifying the interesting players worth keeping around. the only ones who looked out of their depth were Miazga — who took a bunch of dumb risks — and Cardoso. the backline didn’t impress but i’ve said my piece on that 100 times before. bring in fresh faces there. and in terms of the kids or vets who didn’t show well, keep trying new players for them. to me the idea is after a few games like this you find the 23 who stand out. only then do you bother with all the system and gel work. otherwise you are baking your cake with the wrong ingredients cooked in. even if you are system obsessed the best foundation for your system is figuring out who the talent in the pool really is. GB’s problem most of last year was like he thought he knew who his team was just from reading spreadsheets and watching tape. what you need is a few games like this where you can in an informed and confident way show the old and scrubby the door in favor of players who perform, and without all the angst of “but [roldan/lovitz/bradley/zardes] plays all the time.” it’s one of those things where if anyone else gets a chance you will quickly see the error of your ways. but you have to give that chance. and, yes, x% of the prospects will get flushed, and some of them will surprise. that to me is the way of the world but should be decided on the field and not on paper. i expect panama will be a younger roster. some will shine. some will write their own pink slip. but this is at least some learning, and we’ll enhance the “a” team roster.

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    • that being said, unless someone is only making the team at a strange position, play them in the right spot. and run a real 9 and 10 out there. in terms of the result — personnel eval aside — i thought he undermined himself with people out of position, no strong spine, and letting them a little lazily rely on aimless wingback overlap crosses for like 90% of the attempted offense. if we wanted a result as opposed to roll out the ball and watch, you needed a little bit more of early balls into deep space or plays like llanez taking people on and shooting. a little more direct and punchy. somewhat concerned that the “possession” emphasis basically lets defenses get back all the time. and once or twice wales pressed up and started to remind what mexico has done to us when we try and slowly build from the back. we did some skipping of the midfield but they still seem reticent to get more direct and just get the ball out of there when the pressure comes.

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  5. Just wasn’t that great. Defense was shaky at times against not much.
    Good in possession, no ability to create in the final third still. It is great that we have all this talent in the midfield, but it is winger talent and holding talent. Creating and scoring talent is still lacking.
    SBI gave player of the game to a center back who played ok….kinda sums it up.

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    • he had the kid 9s and he started lletget instead. i thought that undermined the ability to have someone finish a cross. i thought the first half offense devolved into get it to the wingbacks wide and have them cross. there was little effort to recycle the ball back to the central midfield or come at them more directly or with combo play…..like the shot llanez had. nor do i think if we’re going to be crossing that the backs are actually the preferred choice to be whacking them in. it reminded me of nights of my hold houston dynamo when brad davis would get structurally trapped inside — the one you really want crossing — and sarkodie or ashe ends up putting lower percent balls in instead. that alone is a minor victory for wales. you could be coming at me on the wings with reyna or musah or de la fuente and instead it’s dest and robinson? thanks. and by the second half even that had dried up and the offense became mckennie or llanez just running at people.

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  6. On any other year, Wales would have gone after us. Maybe because they were playing not at full strength or just maybe they scouted us to know that we can be deadly in an open game. We played in their half and they just packed it and hoped by a counter. The kids need to learn how to break that bunker defense. It didn’t help having Lletget played the false 9. GB should have gone with either Nico or Soto.

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    • wales was not bunkered, because second half they were getting more chances. what happened is first half we were pinning them back because the attackers were giving them fits and then adams was mopping up their chances to get out. i thought other than that speedy wing guy wales was actually meh — though defensively organized — and we should do a little introspection why 0-0 is all we got. i agree on lletget — and wonder if that was GB sending a message he intends to favor sargent or zardes first team and thus wasn’t going to let a perceived future bench kid start with the first unit. kind of like why wasn’t reyna the 10. i assume pulisic got that number and is maybe ticketed for the middle. but if you play without a real 9 or 10 where are the goals coming from? we had vague ideas of get it wide and cross but that’s crude low percent stuff. there was no target man to find in the box. there wasn’t a well thought out idea where goals would come from. personally i think it’s bush league to blow off 9 and 10 because your preferred choices can’t stay in camp and you’d have to favor rookies. it’s often reality that the preferred choice is hurt. who is the next real 9 or 10 in camp? show me whether if this happened for real you could fill those shoes. because lletget couldn’t.

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      • You complain that we should not have been held scoreless and should have been more organized in attack, etc. Well, guess what? That’s what you get when you put out an experimental lineup of untested young guys who haven’t had a chance to practice much together, much less play together.

      • you overrate “gel.” the old bunch had a year to “gel” and looked like heck. this bunch looked dynamic through the middle third but were hamstrung by the lack of a 9 or 10 at the very end. i don’t think it had anything to do with chemistry. it was a couple lineup choices right up the spine. who in their right mind starts lletget as the 9 when the whole offense funnels to the striker?

  7. Overall not a bad display by a group of players who have barely played together; against an opponent who is better than almost all of our CONCACAF opponents.
    If we take todays starting XI and make a couple tweaks…adding Pulisic, an actual CF (Sargent/Jozy/whomever)…and a bit of time together, I think we’ll have a team we can finally look forwards to watching.
    The next game will hopefully give us a bit more insight into what our depth will be. I expect Cardoso, Uli, Weah and some of the others to start against Panama. The stand-out performers will likely be in line to become the Depth once the full “A-Team” is available.

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    • this is so misleading. concacaf is decided among the top 5 or so teams with occasional adds or subtracts. those teams are fairly high level and as good or better than “that” Welsh team, which wasn’t their “A” choice. the stars were up in the box watching. i would say we looked much better on offense for the youth, energy, and talent, but a little too content to just work it wide to wingbacks for crosses. they lacked 9 and 10 focal points. adams was a revelation. steffen was back to his old self. the backs were actually fairly iffy when pressured. miazga kept getting caught out or fouling — though to his credit he would foul and end the play and take his referee lumps instead of just get beat. the wingbacks each got burned at least once by that fast welsh winger.

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      • Only made it through 1st half so if I missed something it’s not intentional.
        The crosses are to come from the FBs, the wingers are supposed to be in the half spaces, it just might not be the best location for Konrad. Robinson struggled as well. Dest was pretty good getting forward but maybe neede to hit a few more back towards the spot instead of straight across goal, especially given our lack of target striker.
        ————————
        Not sure Lletget had enough time to prepare as false nine. Worked well when Ferreira had a month in Jan.
        ————————
        Reyna was in the exact same space he is in for BvB, he just didn’t seem to have the relational understanding with his new teammates. Also the false 9 kept dropping into his space Haaland gives him that room.
        —————————
        I think we put 3 or 4 goals on Panama but I’m not sure that proves anything.

      • JR, they aren’t feeding a mid to feet. they are whacking crosses in behind the backs. for that you need a real 9 with foot speed and finishing, not a technical mid. watch the full game…..what was the idea on how we were ever going to score? it reminded me of klinsi his first year when they would spread the field and ping the ball around but what was missing was that last ball into the box, and having someone to finish if it ever got there. the eventual solution — move dempsey back in the box. re Reyna, i told you before the game his goals and assists come from the middle. you told me the results come wide. where is my result? like i said, i think they will send you a gift basket if either “the offense is supposed to be the wingbacks crossing” or they can force Reyna and de la Fuente to defer to Dest and Robinson. you may like them but offensively that is several notches dropped down. you are exaggerating how often they contribute assists, and which one is going to be the more talented creator. it’s like saying instead of pulisic creating let’s have dest overlap. pfffft. put the ball in the hands of the stars. if the chances are all overlaps something is going wrong.

      • and i actually like lletget but think his best use is like 30 minute supersub playing mid and creating facing the net. splitting people with balls or taking shots. he has never struck me as the back to net type or even the feed me into space for a shot type. i am convinced that was GB wanting to start sargent and being unwilling to give many rookies the boost of being out there with the “A”s. but to me what was lacking was someone at the other end of all the crosses. as well as some sort of central mid engine where instead of accepting the cross, the wing could cut back in, pass across, and we could either change sides or work a combo in. and to be blunt it’s an odd end for possession soccer to end in whacking the ball in. barca and spain at their peak didn’t complete their attacks by sending the ball wide. they practically passed the ball into the net. to me it’s odd to emphasize holding the ball so much and then whack the ball in all the time at the key moment.

    • IV we seem to be in agreement on crosses to Lletget. Wales stayed fairly compact and organized which shut off Reyna being able to drive in from where he wanted too, Lletget wasn’t really enough of a threat to draw out the central defense and open up space for Reyna and Konrad to run into. I actually would have liked to see Dest drive inside more and let Reyna get wider to open up the space. To break down an organized and well practice defense (they’ve played 4 matches this Fall) you either need good combination play or an exceptional individual. Two practices and our best individual skill player out with a hammy didn’t help.

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      • what i felt like they did was have the forwards play narrow and pinched to each other instead of wingers out on the chalk. as a result, instead of the specialist wingers making crosses or feeding runners between the backs, they were narrow and the backs were running around the outside. and while they were getting back in numbers, if you feel like they are going flat as a pancake, one response is instead of taking the low percentage crossing gruel they are scooping, you cut back in across the 18 and either switch sides or look to take someone on or for a combination pass into the box. there was little effort to space out and feed runners into the middle on a second ball. it was all run to the corner flag and whack it in. like i said, as a defender i would send a team that accepts those crumbs a gift basket. particularly if you forget to name an actual 9 to even give me worry. especially with numbers back i will clear that all day. reyna at least started to change up delivery — some loft, some ground — and to win some corners.

  8. I’m waiting on the replay because I wasn’t smart enough to tape it this afternoon. Wales was 3-0-1 this Fall and hadn’t given up a goal. Bulgaria, Ireland, Finland aren’t world betters but Finland just beat France 2-0. Drawing the 20th ranked team on the road is a pretty good result even if they weren’t full strength.

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    • i thought we showed well for a half but had a shaky defense and lacked offensive focal points. i refuse to back pat the accumulating pile of ties. where are the “w”s?? it was prettier to watch but to start winning someone needs to finish those chances. and i think a better team exposes those defensive glitches. it was better — and a joy to see the new talent make its case — but i am not going to pretend we’re even close to there. we will be there when we start winning games like this — which we used to. this should be a top 16 team easy and i refuse to get all excited over drawing top 20 wales “b.”

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  9. agree. Llanez came in and had a sweet touch on his very first time on the ball, had and opening, and fired. looked like he had that on his mind too, whether that idea came on his own or passed on by the staff or soemone else. if they don’t step and you have space you need to punish them, like Dennis said and make them pay and adjust, just like on the other end you can’t give that space up without pressure so dudes can tee it up

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    • i thought they were a little too content to just take the ball wide wales was willing to concede. i found llanez’s more direct play similarly refreshing. thought he was the star of the subs. not sure why we didn’t make more subs because after 60 they — particularly lletget — looked exhausted. he dragged butt on making subs and the energy went out of it. not sure what it is about him and sarachan not making subs. these are not real games. these are chances to look at people. and even if you want to treat them like serious games your better chance to win when they look tired on a heavy field is send out 6 new people between 60-70′.

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    • i thought the lack of a true 9 and 10 showed. there was no center mid taking people on and wall balling passes. the crosses in were just behind the defense and hopeful as opposed to being precise to the feet of a target guy. my theory is those spots were ticketed for pulisic and sargent. but surely we can adapt and put a specialist kid in those slots? mckennie’s not a 10. musah can play in tight spaces but feels more like a winger. reyna was used as a winger. and then lletget was his idea of a 9 replacement. to me that’s where the lack of directness and ultimate “punch” went.

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  10. It looks like our coach forced musah into the central attacking role and he just wasn’t ready for it. He’s Ghanaian born like another one time wonder kid. I guess the idea was that he had Weston and Adams behind him, supporting him. That forced Sebastian up top, when we had legit strikers and Sebastian would have been more effective in his more natural role. This coach is capable of over thinking the USA right out of the next World Cup.

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    • Musah played both as a CM and wide player at Arsenal and only plays there for Valencia because they sold off a bunch of players to avoid financial difficulty. Last year for Valencia B he played almost exclusively as a CM and that’s also where he has played for the English YTs. The idea that Berhalter is tinkering him out of his natural position is being put out by people who hadn’t heard of Yunus Musah until last Tuesday.

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      • I get your point. He is 17 or maybe 21, but he is young and if the coach is trying to placate a player he is courting, what does that really say about the program? There is no progression in this move, very little process.

      • To repeat what I said a couple of days ago, where you play the kid right now is unimportant. All you want to do at this point is to see if he has the potential to be a decent international. I saw enough to convince me that the US should really go after this kid and cap tie him ASAP. Worry about his position later, if and when he is capt tied. Until then, let him play wherever he wants.

      • GP: we were playing kids wide. eg delaFuente Llanez Reyna. why are we pretending the only way to shoehorn him on the field was central? and like i said during the in-game, the solution was simple. reyna starts 10 and he starts wide. he’s still in the game for evaluation and recruitment purposes, but they are both now in their natural position. kind of like you could probably fix half our offensive struggles by running out a real 9 instead of lletget. he creates his own problems. you fix them by simply playing people in position and replacing missing veterans with the next specialist role player up instead of a security blanket.

      • JR: your argument is misleading. he plays mostly wing this year on Valencia first team. he played — past tense — centrally on Valencia B last season, but also a fair amount wide as well. what you neglect is that on a “B” or youth team one might be played out of position to make numbers. i was a back and winger in college. you put me on a coed scrub team and i can play 10 or striker like i did when i was 10. the fact i am a capable fill in at a spine attacking position against lesser talent doesn’t mean that’s my best position in a higher level sitation. the fact he could be used half the time centrally on “B” Valencia doesn’t mean that’s his true or even desired position. my impression — while capable in tight spaces he was giving the ball away by waiting too late to make the pass. what we needed was someone who would either make combo passes or actually take that defender on and beat them. i agree with GP in the sense he showed plenty why he should be kept around for the real 23. and versatility is useful off the bench, he can be kept around even more as a “slash” player. mid/wing. but the experiment went ho-hum so let’s not encourage GB in trying to hammer the square peg in the round hole.

    • He was born in the US and your insinuation that he’s 21 is racist. Stop spreading this myth anyone born of African decent is deceitful.

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    • Cylo- I don’t doubt that’s what Dinkranovich was thinking but it’s the soccer version of birtherism. It’s used specifically against one race of people to delegitimize them.

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    • Super-it is racism 100%. What is the underlying theme of the comment? It is saying either Africans are untrustworthy or they can’t count to 17? Gio Reyna also tall for a soccer player, mature face, skilled play for his age, anyone ever make a joke about his age being a lie? No, because he’s white.

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      • “Call it out where you see it”. It might not be intentional but it should not have a place in US Soccer when talking about players of African decent.We can disagree on many many things but something like that should not be one of them.

        Respect Johnnyrazor

      • Johnny i don’t think mesah should have been thrown out there in a position he wasn’t ready to play, even though he played in the arsenal academy. You would probably agree that Sebastian would have been more competent in that central attacking role, both than he was up top and musah was in his spot. It’s like two bad moves for the price of zero goals. Maybe they could have thrown Gideon zelalam out there. At least he’s 23 and was born In Germany, where they keep impeccable records,

  11. We know pretty much what we’re getting with Reyna and the others are mostly question marks. Musah is the one who impressed me the most of the others. He looks like the real deal and hopefully he chooses the US.

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  12. US coach ( insert name here) stupid.
    USSF dumb.
    MLS terrible.
    SUM disgusting.
    Any second tier average Euro should have played!

    Did I get them all.

    The only constant of the internet? The tedious predictability.

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  13. Passing for the sake of passing = Berhalter’s football philosophy.

    How about about passing with a sense of purpose? Who is going to pay to watch this cr*p ?

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    • 10 months since the last game, 6 uncapped players played and only 2 days of training….so what were you realistically expecting? There were some good things that happened out there tonight, so no one should be dediant or disappointed tbh…..only thing I woupd say is De La Fuente has to put that shot away and there was plenty of build up play in and around the 18yd box that will we will get better at managing the more we play together!

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      • Ronnie — de la Fuente is the one you want playing the ball into the sniper who finishes it for him. problem last night is, who exactly was that? and so he ends up doing it himself. he rushed it. he’s not a 9. he should have brought that down and then fed a runner facing net.

    • as i said below, it reminds me of klinsi’s first year. all perimeter possession, not enough precise balls to the feet of finishers in the box. i also felt like the pass happy buildup denies the speed of more direct counter play where you can flank a defense. wales had that speedy guy who could simply get behind the wingbacks. how about sometimes just play the ball in space and let’s run downfield.

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    • It just seemed like we were too caught up in the cute or perfect play instead of testing the keeper more…but things will improve and I for one was impressed with what I saw given the circumstances I mentioned above

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      • Actually, I think this has been a common US problem, especially when we don’t have Dempsey. Donovan or Pulisic. Unless you have a teammate open inside the box for not much more than a tap in, I would tell the players to shoot any time they are in the box and have a clear shot at goal. Even if you don’t score, there can be rebounds, GK errors, etc. which can lead to a score.I liked it that Llanez, right after he came on, shot as soon as he had an opening on goal and the Goalies had to give up a corner to keep it out.

    • I agree, just shoot the ball. Very few goals are scored by player or teams that do not shoot. It is true that most of the shots not taken happened from about 20 yards out, and would have had to find a way through a crowded box. Simply taking more of those potential shots would have forced Wales to step out and would have made for a bit more space in the box. Also, few (none) of the players seemed to have a striker’s optimism that they would get the ball if they just made runs into the box.

      The ability to win a lot of 50-50 balls, keep Wales pinned deep for most of the match, and maintain possession were real positives.

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    • it helps to start an actual 9 and 10 if you want shots. who was going to finish the goals last night? and if you want shots you need more precise balls to feet in the box and fewer hopeful crosses by wingbacks. the offense in the first half decayed down to let dest and robinson whack balls in. by the second half it was just mckennie taking people on. they had a possession concept. they didn’t have a goal concept. to me it’s more important to have an idea where the goals will come from. klinsi had this problem early on. all possession, few chances, game ends 0-0.

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