Top Stories

Berhalter calls out USMNT attack for a lack of urgency


You couldn’t blame Gregg Berhalter for being a little envious after Sunday night’s Concacaf Gold Cup results at Children’s Mercy Park. The Canadian national team shook off an early goal from Martinique to rattle off four unanswered goals in an impressive attacking display.

Berhalter’s U.S. men’s national team squad didn’t come anywhere close to matching Canada’s offensive fireworks, squeezing out a 1-0 victory against Haiti in a match that required a defender — left back Sam Vines — to deliver the game’s only goal.

The performance, which left the Americans sitting in second place in Group B behind Canada after matchday one, left Berhalter thoroughly unsatisfied, and he wasn’t afraid to express his disappointment.

“What I told the guys, and it’s not just related to those three in midfield, it’s related to the whole team. I missed the urgency to score more goals and to be dangerous and first pass forward and aggressive,” Berhalter said after the match. “To me, it was way too slow, way too backwards. Not enough intent to turn it around and get them defending in the penalty box. And then once we’re in the penalty box, I didn’t like the runs, the movement in the box. I didn’t like the service.

“So from the attacking end, we were disappointed with the intent that we showed tonight.”

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Lackadaisical is the best way to describe the USMNT attack for stretches of the match, with Shaq Moore’s attacking forays from the right back position the only real constant threat for the Americans for the first two thirds of the match. Paul Arriola’s early injury departure didn’t help matters, but there were several disappointing individual performances that contributed to the lackluster showing.

Jonathan Lewis struggled mightily on the left wing, as did Vines, who never could get going after scoring his first national team goal. Jackson Yueill failed to provide a proactive presence in the defensive midfield role, which offset a strong showing from Kellyn Acosta in a more advanced midfield role.

The good news for the Americans is that there was a clear boost provided by the team’s second-half substitutes, including Gianluca Busio, who replaced Yueill and partnered with fellow substitute Eryk Williamson in central midfield as Berhalter shifted the team to a 3-5-2.

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Busio was particularly impressive in his national team debut, showing quality on the ball and bringing some much-needed poise to the middle of the field.

Berhalter will have some interesting lineup decisions to make as he looks ahead to the team’s next match, on Thursday against Martinique. Cristian Roldan did not play on Sunday, and appears to be a good candidate to step in and start, potentially for Sebastian Lletget, while Busio and Williamson both made good cases to earn their first national team starts.

Some changes were always likely for the USMNT’s second group-stage match, but after Sunday’s less-than-ideal start to the Gold Cup, Berhalter will be even more eager to see what some new starters can do to improve on the match against Haiti.

“We still need to go to another gear, you can see we were a little rusty, the movements weren’t as clean as they normally were,” Berhalter said. “We didn’t create enough and we didn’t finish enough chances. So from that standpoint there’s room to improve.

“Happy with the shutout, happy that we didn’t give up a goal and happy to get the three points and we move on to Martinique.”


  1. GB you are the coach….leader / Manager of this team….take responsibility. With all the tools at your disposal you are the “artist” if the painting sucks…..then its all on you.

    Why is Chris Mueller, 24 years of age (the poor mans Pulisic) not on the field…let alone in camp for the USMNT (Lewis???)? He is dynamic, gets into good spots, can find a pass, has been increasingly dangerous in front of goal, runs / takes on defenders, has played with Dike (partnership) and has a killer work ethic. Looking at goals and assists per 90 minutes, Mueller sits at 0.79 — higher than both Arriola (0.45) and Lewis (0.24). Even looking outside of this group, it’s roughly the same as Canadian forward Tajon Buchanan (0.81). What gives?

    WE NEED YOU KID!!!!!

    • Although I agree it should have been Mueller instead of Lewis. Chris is really more a poor man’s Morris, in their MLS careers Chris 0.6 G+A per 90, Morris 0.57 G+A per 90. Pulisic is 0.50 but obviously in much much tougher leagues.

      • I really wish this kid was in the line-up. Also, Chris is not a poor man’s Morris….as Morris is a “poor man” himself lol

    • Hearing Mueller might be on the move to Belgium. Doesn’t seem like it’s close enough to done that it explains why he was left off.

  2. He didn’t like the slow build up? Isn’t that what he has been preaching all along, build from the back.
    Look, these are the players he selected. He made his bed, now he is going to have to lay in it.

  3. I have seen George Bello play for Atlanta United. I believe he is a quality left back that can challenge for a starter position in the qualifiers for the World Cup. I hope he gets a chance to play against Martinique to showcase his skills. To be sure, the USMNT doesn’t have that many outstanding left backs. Yes, I agree with others her and would let Zardes rest and let Hoppe and Dike be in charge of scoring goals.

  4. Midfield has to be Acosta, Busio and Lleget.

    I watch a lot of KC highlights and games, and it’s only to watch Busio, who is already better than any of our other Gold Cup players. I mean, I don’t search for a lot of Lewis highlights…not that I’d find any. How can anyone not know the deal, here? Is this a team that scouts players at all? Let the kid start the rest of the tournament and then you’ll see some forward passing and all that stuff you are griping about. Not to mention he almost scored on a half volley. That’s what I like to watch. Jeez.

  5. Interesting Araujo was seeming to try to pressure US into moving him up the deep chart by sitting out only to be pushed further down by gifting his spot to Moore. Shaq could easily fall off the rest of the tournament a la Tyler Boyd last time but Shaq may have made up Julian’s mind for him.

  6. The negativity is kind of silly, tbh. It’s soccer, and we could easily have won that game 3-0. In any case, the Gold Cup is about looking for guys to 1)maybe be our starting striker and 2)fill out the last 5 or so roster spots for WCQ. No one thinks these are our best or most creative players. Ok,what we learned:
    1)Zimmerman and Robinson are still candidates to play minutes in WCQ.
    2)Yueill may not have a place on WCQ roster
    3)Lewis does not have a place on WCQ roster if A or B Squad is available.
    The following players are still in heavy contention for WCQ Roster spots:
    Zardes–always puts in a shift, and even though folks hate him, seems to be involved in our goals when he’s on the field. Like last night….
    Dike–just don’t know yet–hope he gets more minutes
    Lletget-will be there
    Acosta–versatility will get him a spot
    Arriola–been hurt a lot of late, but still in running
    Zimmerman–to me he’s the equal of Miazga–which puts him 3-6 on depth chart, something like that
    Robinson–maybe a touch less reliable but still in heavy contention.
    Turner–at least our 3rd string keeper, may be more.
    Vines–one game does not drop him, but the shine came off a bit last night
    Roldan–he’s Acosta’s competition for the jack of all trades guy.
    Jury is still completely out on: Busio, Williamson, Hoppe, Gioacchini
    Shaq Moore is a victim of a super deep pool at right back. Can he play left back? Please?

    Wildcard: I think Roldan gets the start next game–he’s actually probably the logical replacement for Arriola–he runs all day, is probably the best crosser on the current roster, and he can also play the 6,8, and even right back. In MLS he’s the best of Williamson, Busio, Acosta, Lletget and Yueill. Maybe it doesn’t translate, but not sure why…
    I can imagine a world where Zardes and Dike are the two strikers we take to the WC. One high energy runner and one brute force finisher. The rest are unfulfilled potential right now (Sargent, Gioaccini, Pfock, Hoppe, etc). It’s not great but it’s certainly possible…..

    • I was kind of confused as to why Roldan didn’t sub on for Arriola last night. Especially given Nico wasn’t ready for 75 minutes.

    • The negative comments are in response to negative comments from the manager about what was a predictably poor performance by his selected roster. Who didn’t grimace seeing the lineup? If the goal is finding guys to fill out the roster- selecting players that have already clearly demonstrated they are not the guys is a wasted opportunity- yes? In defense of Berhalter- there is certainly an argument to be made for saving the legs of his best team, but frankly a very unbalanced roster with almost no wingers/wide threats and players like Lewis, Yueill that are wellll down the depth chart at their given positions make doing so and playing fast thinking, a proactive soccer a really hard ask. With the starting lineup- gutting out an ugly win was a decent result. In some ways I have more hope now than before the game. Busio looked really good and actually defended pretty well against a very motivated, very physical Haitian team. Robinson looked pretty good as did Shaq. With Arriola out and Lewis… no wingers- our best bet is a 532 with Bello and Shaq providing width/service to Hoppe Dike up top, Busio, Williamson in the midfield and we look heaps better- are likely quite a bit more threatening. C’mon now boys!

      • I don’t know that the lineup was that perplexing with Hoppe and Nico only 4 days into formal training (they’ve been working out at their homes) it makes sense they didn’t start. Then you have to figure dropping Busio and Williamson into the starting lineup for their first cap against a physical, athletic, and familiar with each other MF in their first cap is pretty dangerous (look at Busio’s first touch, thank goodness he settled in). What you didn’t figure was Yueill to play scared and Lleget to be very passive. The Lewis problem however was easily predictable, and would have been solved by naming Mueller to the roster instead. I think Berhalter is right to be upset at how slow the MF moves the ball given they spent NL together but if the poor runs he’s referring too were mostly Lewis that’s on him for picking him in the first place.

  7. So many things to point out, but an ugly W in CONCACAF is still a W. I really want to leave a laundry list of complaints but I’ll say this. You can’t complain about the dinner when you selected the ingredients and cooked it!! GB! This match reminded me of the match in OQ vs CR, 1-0. 3 players from that squad are starters, (Yueill, Vines, Lewis), like I knew back in March. That means we’ll look good vs Martinique, only to not care about winning the group. As a consolation, the people who’ve been wanting to see Zardes as a winger, get their moment. Mediocre is as mediocre does!!

    • I don’t think Gyasi should be a wing for the NT, it highlights what he’s not good at and diminishes what he is good at but it’s also kind of unfair to judge his wing performance when he hasn’t played out there in years and was forced to play there because of Arriola’s injury and Nico’s offseason fitness.

      • Forced to play? You know Zardes is a grown adult, right?! Unfair to judge him for his wing performance? The man has played winger most of his USMNT career, JR! 55+ caps & counting. GB is the one who gave him a position change, people know this. After the Haiti match, he has double digit assist and goals for the Nats. Strong said something about Lando & him are the fastest to accomplish it. ‘He hasn’t played there in years’, exactly my point. Why play him there?! Well, he is going to play some winger now, and a few commenters have been wanting to see him play there for months. (It’s funny to me, it’s the same people who think Lewis is good because he’s fast). If I say he’s not a winger, he never was! JK played him out of position, then I’m a hater. I cheer every time I’ve seen him score a goal, even if uses his face! (True story). My only question would be did he lead the Nats in scoring 2019 as CF or winger?

      • Wow slow down. I’m with you on the Gyasi isn’t a winger train. He wasn’t really a winger when Klinsmann played him there either but he was fastish and worked hard, but he’s not good taking people on or crossing into the box so what’s the point of playing him there. He hasn’t played on the wing really at all since 2017 and a large majority of his club career minutes are as a CF and his last 19 caps have come as a CF. I think sliding him into the W spot was a stopgap because of Nico’s fitness level and Arriola’s injury not a practiced role. I think the plan was sub Nico on for Lewis around the 60th minute and Paul to play 90. If he trains some at wing this week he’ll be able to put in a better performance as a winger but not anything to write home about.
        Let’s be honest there is only one regular commenter here who liked the Lewis inclusion.
        Now that I think about it the Gyasi should be a wing crowd are mostly Klinsmann revisionists that ignore that the program was in shambles at the end and believe that JK was tactical and talent evaluation genius.

      • When Zardes played wing under Klinsmann, as I remember it, he mostly tried to get behind the backline and then pass back into the box for strikers running on to the ball. Even when that doesn’t lead to a goal, it usually opens up channels for other attackers to run into, both then and later on in the game. It also forces the right back to hesitate from going forward.

    • Regarding Zardes as a wing, remember that back then we had Dempsey and Jozy who was still very useful. So, he wasn’t going to beat them out and Klinsmann thought he was valuable enough that he wanted him on the field. Dempsey scored most of his goals for Fulham playing left mid and Lletget scored 8 goals from that position in a season early on for the Galaxy. Thus, people can score from the left wing.

      • Gyasi scores 1g every 2.2 matches as a CF in MLS, he scores 1g every 5 matches as a W/M. For Columbus where he’s played almost exclusively as a CF he averages 1g/1.97 matches. When he first started with NT as you said we had CF: Dempsey, Altidore, AJ, and eventually Wood and Morris with few wing options Fabian, Bedoya, and Arriola. Situation is switched now Gyasi isn’t beating out Aaronson, Pulisic, Reyna, or Weah but he’s probably 4th at CF with a lot more questions ahead of him at CF than W.

  8. Lots of hand wringing and gnashing of teeth, but the US wasn’t that bad. They weren’t really good, but not that bad. While there was a fair amount of effort, what bothered me is the Haiti outfought US players more often than naught. As I have been saying for some time, Lewis was a waste. He is good at dancing around with the ball when he gets in the box and then losing it. I think he did something good one time he had the ball. I’ve seen Yuell be much better. After he came on, Dike was mostly invisible and that was disappointing. While Vines scored, his failure to get back and cover almost led to a Haitian goal. Lletget is not the problem and did fine, but I think it would be okay to rest him before Canada since he’s been playing a lot of minutes with the Galaxy and then the US friendlies. The main problem is one we have seen often before–the ball has to move faster, especially when the other team is pressing and when on a counter attack.

  9. The lineup was what it was. I think most could see what was coming a mile away. I am surprised that he is surprised that players who haven’t previously shown the attacking qualities he is asking for in the past didn’t yesterday. Coach- they are who they are. You want incisive creative play- put players with those qualities on the roster and in the lineup. Be happy we made it out with a point. Pounding square pegs into round holes and then complaining they don’t fit well is a poor look. OK- I’m done ranting the same rant. Hoping for the best moving forward.

    • The problem is when you are counting on two forwards to be wingers but those two have been on vacation for a month you need your two in season guys to be good. Injuries happen and it’s bad luck for it to happen 14 mins in but Berhalter seems to be the only person on the planet that rates Lewis. So now we’re left with either a formation change 1 game in, or rush Nico/Hoppe’s fitness. Playing Bello as a winger is a better option than continuing to push Lewis out there. Busio played LW for SKC last season as well in more of a Pulisic style inverted winger that would be better than watching Lewis get in everyone else’s way.

  10. You picked the starters GB. Dont blame them, look in the mirror and plame the guy staring back at you. I think we’ll go out after the group stage. Watched Mexico and they will kill us. So will Tajon on Canada when we face them

    • agree lol. Anybody who saw the final roster knew this team would have trouble on the attacking front. He added 2 too many 9s and way too many 8s without any attacking CM or wingers on this roster

  11. Coming off of watching the copa america final, then the euro final, then…this. Yikes. I had to go to bed after halftime but have no plans to go rewatch. Glad we got the win but we definitely need to play better to even get to a knockout match against Mexico. Haiti does have some speed on the counter, but otherwise don’t look near as good as they were last cycle.

    • They lost their 2nd best player and their regular keeper to Covid. It was their third match of the tournament and it’s pretty close to the squad who played 4 games in June so their cohesion was a lot better than US.
      As for Euros and Copa America, the early group stages matches were pretty poor too. Italy was good throughout but England and Spain were pretty unwatchable early as well. Those teams are obviously much more talented than even our first team or any team in this tournament as are Brazil and Argentina so the GC will never be as pleasant as those two finals.

      • Yep, unfair to compare the tournaments. And we had some bright spots it seemed, Moore, both centerbacks. Acosta’s passing stats were good, and Ives said he played well, though I thought we were not good overall in the middle of the field. Zardes isn’t popular on this site, but I thought he looked a step above our other attacking players, and I can see why Berhalter calls him in. The next game looks like the best chance to play the new/fringe players and see who can contribute.

  12. I just don’t get why the talking heads on TV never criticize our coach. Same thing with Klinsi. Are they not allowed to? I was embarrassed for Stu Holden trying to put a polish on last night’s turd because I know he’s smarter than that.

  13. Acting like Canada is an offensive juggernaut score 4 goals against Martinique. Bet they score 2 or less vs Haiti. US attack was weak until 2nd half subs and never helps to hit woodwork 3x. But give Haiti credit for playing inspired and intense all night.

  14. A general comment on the coaching: Do I wish Zardes and Lewis were not on the field……Yes. Do I think Vines is not ready for A team….. Yes. But I coached for many years (much, much lower level), and I learned that opinions were a dime a dozen. I was criticized for pretty much every decision I made, sometimes it was valid, most of the times it was not. The decisions I made were based on training, discipline, etc… I often sat top players when they got lazy for a week of training. If there was a dustup in practice that, discipline issues, tight hamstrings, etc…. I sat the player. And I NEVER told anyone outside the team why I made the decision unless I desperate to get through to the player. I was very clear with the team, but when a coach airs those decisions publicly he is risking his relationship with the player and the team. Just watch Mourinho for the last 3 jobs to see how well that works.

  15. For the attack, I get what they are trying to do, I see the base level of what they are building. But until the spacing improves, and the decision making improves, and most importantly the off-the-ball movement improves drastically, the attack will sputter. Busio made a major difference with his off the ball movement. He made himself available in much better spots than Yueill. He is not ready for the A team, but there is major promise there. I also like Dike’s movement off the ball. He uses his body/strength well to create seams to feed him the ball. I would be shocked if a European team does not make a move for him by mid August. Same with Busio.

  16. Amazing how much better the team starting looking once the newblets got on the field.

    Yowsah that was some bad soccer last night. Made Baby Jesus cry. Glad we won but some of those guys…woof. Not much more to say.

  17. Never been a “coach s a moron and I am a genius” guy. People on the net r on the net, and not suceeding in life for a reason. However, after the Olympic roster anmd pla, and now this you have to wonder. He has done well buiding a core for the first team, Euro situations have hurt this squads core (something folks need to wrap their heads around as it won’t change as we export more players), but the rigidness of this squad, and built in limitations makes one question. Very olympicesque. If Clark doesn’t get hurt that is a huge help but still. in the past we blamed players and reached for fanatsy players, but the talent wasn’t really there. Just hardcore (emotionally unblanced and delusional ranting) complaining. Now? We needed wimngs and some one on on aggression. Mueller wasn’t an option but Gianochi is?
    Cmon. I have nothing gainst Yuell….but if Busio/ EWill don’t get a decent amount fo time in games we have left…maybe 3 w this team….then that’s a problem. Like the Olympics its a team that isn’t dynamic, can’t move the ball quickly (if u really didn’t know that GB that is a real issue)…and will scare no one at all. Hell, there is little to respect going forward.
    Lewis….how? Just how? if there ever was a time to role the dice and reach on a few more players this was it….and I am not a “every young guy w a pulse should be here, and everyone not here is better guy”. Missed opp and it makes Kreis look better, even though he is a mediocrity, because it’s really clear now he was asked to play in a certain way.

    GB has done well in general, better than nay hardcore will ever admit, but he is very rigid in some aspects, and while just changing players for the sake of it is a poor way to run a team…he should have learned from that Olympic team.

  18. Martinique should be the softest opponent in the group. It is a game to reduce playing time for key starters and give new players a chance to dictate tempo from the start. Cannon and Arriola can rest and recover. One would think one or both of Zimmerman and Robinson can get reduced minutes before Canada. Hoppe and Gioachinni on the wings, as Lewis is playing himself out of WCQ roster contention. Both Acosta and Lletget went the full 90, so may be time for reduced minutes.

    Keep in mind the GC is nothing more than a WCQ tryout. It is a showcase for fringe players to make an impression. Moore boosted his stock. Robinson and Busio, filling roles where we lack depth, met expectations. I thought Gioachiini, normally a central striker who rarely plays wing, did Ok. It is all about September.

  19. This crappy attack is on Beerholder. Jonathan Lewis absolutely sucks. He isn’t even a starter for his club team. Bussio and Williamson showed more than Yueill ever has. Start your best players, Beerholder.

  20. Berhalter- we need more urgency, aggressiveness, and playing forward
    Also Berhalter – started Yueill, Vines, Lewis, and Zardes

    Does Berhalter not see the connection between the two?

    Next game, play the newbies
    ?? – Dike – Hoppe
    Roldan – Williamson – Busio
    Bello – Sands – Robinson – Moore


Leave a Comment