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USMNT focused on improving against Martinique after lackluster showing vs. Haiti

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The U.S. men’s national team grinded its way to three points in its opening match of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup on Sunday against Haiti, a performance that Gregg Berhalter conceded wasn’t good enough as the USMNT coach made it clear he hopes to see better from his team going forward.

The Americans face off against Martinique at Children’s Mercy Park on Thursday looking to pick up a second victory in Group B before this weekend’s showdown with Canada to close out group stage play. After managing just one goal against the Haitians, the USMNT will be looking to up the tempo against Martinique, a clear underdog that finds itself in a must-win situation to avoid elimination from the Gold Cup.

“We just want to continue to improve, continue to get better,” Berhalter said in a conference call on Wednesday. “This is a young group of players who haven’t had a lot of time to work with one another on this big of a stage. For us, the goal is to keep getting better. By no means did we think on our first game would we be the finished product, but we still have more opportunities in front of us.”

Although the USMNT walked away with only one goal to its name on Sunday night, it did have plenty of impressive individual performances from Shaq Moore, Kellyn Acosta and Gianluca Busio. All three are among the USMNT players who are not only looking to help the Americans win the Gold Cup, but also fighting to earn a place with the full USMNT squad when World Cup qualifying begins in September.

“Not to overlook this tournament, but I think this Gold Cup is important for me and a lot of players on the roster,” USMNT defender Walker Zimmerman said. “Playing well and getting an opportunity to play for a trophy is huge and I think winning Gold Cup will probably help the stock of myself and others in this group.”

The USMNT did well to limit Haiti in Sunday’s victory, holding the Caribbean side to three shots on goal out of 10 in total. Now the focus changes to a Martinique squad that lost 4-1 in its opening match to Canada, and is an unfamiliar group to the Americans in general.

Thursday will be the third-ever meeting between the two countries, with the previous two also coming in the Gold Cup. Gyasi Zardes and Kellyn Acosta both started against Martinique in a 3-2 win back in 2017 while Brad Guzan featured in goal for the group stage victory.

Martinique may not pose a lot of household names on their roster, but it is a team that has worked hard to earn to this opportunity against one of Concacaf’s best.

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

“We prepared for them like we do every other opponent which is respecting them, we look at their strengths and weaknesses,” Berhalter said. “Martinique is a good team, they have some good attacking players, Fortune on the left wing is a good dribbler, Riviere is a good forward who played in Serie A.

“They also have some veteran centerbacks, it’s an older team with experience, and it’s going to be a difficult game so we aren’t expecting an easy game by any means.”

“They are a great team and we cannot afford to get overconfident in ourselves,” Zimmerman said. “It’s not a friendly, it’s a cup competition and we are trying to win it. They are coming off of a loss so they know that they need a result to try and get out of the group.

“We expect a lot of intensity from them and for us we hope to have more of the ball and try and break them down,” Zimmerman said. ” It will be about having more intensity than them.”

Comments

  1. Berhalter had other options for this tourney and still chose that midfield and winger group. Any failures (which are probably likely here) are on him. There may have been some club stuff in play that we don’t know about, but still.
    *****
    On the flip side though, the players do seem to really enjoy playing for him and the culture around the program seems a lot healthier than it had been. That stuff helps get results (half-looks at England and Southgate). Unfortunately, I just don’t think this roster choice for this Gold Cup was correct. B-squad, fine, but take some risks with your picks and definitely have a sprinkling of A-team guys who weren’t regulars in the CNL here (Aaronson, Musah come to mind). Instead we got a tepid match vs. Haiti and probably more of the same tonight. Wouldn’t shock me if it went similar to how the last time we played Martinique went. Who will play the Jordan Morris savior role?

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  2. I expected this team to struggle as soon as the USSF decided not to have any friendlies before the Cup started and once Gregg released the final roster.
    Gregg’s player selections continue to be baffling. Very little creativity, No width, a bunch of retreads who’ve shown time & again that they are incapable of playing at the international level.
    Unfortunately we’re stuck with Gregg regardless of how badly he & his team does.

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    • In life there are only two things which are guaranteed, taxes and death. the Berlin wall eventually came down and the USSR dissolved are a couple examples that anything is possible. If every USMNT is unhappy and persistently demands Berhalter be removed, the “genius” Berhalter cannot be at the position forever despite his brother is on the USSF board. A couple years ago, the USMNT’s fans had to consistently put up with the incompetent Daniel Lovitz and Will Trapp, thanks to the “genius” manager’s player selections. In the CONCACAF Nations League final, the “genius” again started Tim Ream going against the speedy Mexican wingers. Fortunately, the USMNT played courageously & brilliantly and won the title in OT in spite of Berhalter. At the first game of this year’s Gold Cup, the “genius” started the incompetent Jonathon Lewis and Jackson Yueill, and then at the post game press conference, the “genius” was pissed off with the poor performances. The poor performances were NOT the players’ fault, but rather it was the manager who picked them. It is what it is. We all know the qualities and the levels of Lovitz, Trapp, Ream, Lewis and Yueill are at. Berhalter, if continued to be the USMNT’s manager, will be the key reason the USMNT may underperform (or fail) at the 2022 Qatar World Cup despite of the tremendous, bright young talents our current USMNT’s player pool has offered.

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      • Only person I’ve ever seen on the entire internet refer to Berhalter as a “genius” is, in fact, simonlovesusmnt. Exactly who are you mocking bud?

      • Also the “beerholder” thing… what is that about? Guy hardly looks like some fat boozer. If anything he looks like he eats a cup of soybeans every 3 weeks. And since when is holding a beer a crime, anyway? All weird stuff.

      • I don’t get it either. It’s lame and childish.

        But I guess only two things are certain, death and people complaining about the manager.

      • We won Nations League, and Greg showed he could make in game changes that could help get a result…we also won our first game in the GC, and rosters selections were based on whom he could get released without upsetting or making it difficult down the line to get released if he played hardball and demanded the players be called in anyways. It’s the managers job to assess who he can and can’t play hardball with when it comes to call ups, so why risk it when we need to see if we can build more depth anyways before WCQ’s? All of the other stuff is just smoke and mirrors and ranting about GB’s ouster because it’s become the cool thing to do! In GB’s era, we’ve been in 2 finals, won one and lost one, with another potential final on the horizon in this Gold Cup, not a bad start in my book, but my book tends to be more of a perspective based one, rather than one that’s doom and gloom because every player that I’ve ever wanted called up is not in every camp or tournament, sport and management doesn’t work that way!

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