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Ricardo Pepi’s heroics help lift USMNT to rousing comeback road win against Honduras

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The U.S. men’s national team played one of the more lackluster opening 45 minutes in recent memory, and looked in danger of ending September’s trio of World Cup qualifiers with just two points, but Ricardo Pepi stepped up to lead a comeback for the ages.

The FC Dallas teenager, who became the second-youngest player to ever play in a World Cup qualifier for the USMNT, scored the go-ahead goal and then set up an insurance goal to help the Americans roll to a 4-1 victory over the Catrachos in San Pedro Sula.

The victory helped push the Americans to five points in the Concacaf Octagonal standings moving into third place in the Octagonal standings, behind leaders Mexico and Canada.

After a woeful opening half that saw the Americans look tired and disjointed playing in a 5-4-1 formation, Berhalter made three halftime substitutions that helped spark the team.

Antonee Robinson, Brenden Aaronson and Sebastian Lletget came on at halftime, helping give the team a much-needed boost, and Robinson made an immediate impact, scoring an equalizer in the 48th minute.

The Americans looked like they might have to settle for a tie, especially after Christian Pulisic was forced off with an injury, but it was Pulisic’s replacement who helped set up the go-ahead goal.

DeAndre Yedlin came off the bench and delivered a perfect cross that Pepi headed home to make the score 2-1 in the 75th minute.

Honduras made substitutions in search of an equalizer, but only served to expose its defense to the counter, and the Americans fully capitalized, with Pepi providing an assist in the 86th minute, catching Honduras on the break before setting up Brenden Aaronson’s finish to make the score 3-1.

Pepi had a hand in yet another goal to seal the victory late in stoppage time, with his shot forcing a save, and the rebound made for an easy finish for Sebastian Lletget.

The Americans now head toward the October set of Concacaf qualifiers undefeated, and tied on points with Canada, two points behind Octagonal leader Mexico.


What did you think of the match? Who impressed you the most? Could you have imagined the USMNT

Comments

  1. Pepi saved Beerholder’s job. Adams as rightback…jajaja without General McKennie battle for balls or Reyna create…what was Beerholder think?

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  2. Pepi’s quote: chose the US because this “country gave me and my family a home and endless possibilities to achieve my dreams.” USA at our finest baby! Wow feels good today to be a believer in this team. Long way to go, felt terrible a few nights ago, but lots of ground covered with this young group new to CONCACAF road qualis

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  3. just saw this stat: before last night, USMNT was 1-33-6 in WC qualis when trailing at halftime. Historic comeback last night. To all involved from top to bottom…well done man! Expressed their best when needed most

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  4. Among the things that I found encouraging was the toughness they showed, even during the dreadful first half. The ref was letting them play and seemed to be following the dictum of no blood no foul, to use a basketball term. Never gave out a card when he probably could have given a half dozen. Pretty much swallowed his whistle unless an egregious foul changed possession. It was good to see the US give more than it got. It was like Klinsmann said, we needed to be nasty. Not dirty, but no quarter given. And that is exactly what you need for success in CONCACAF qualifiers. Another hopeful thing is that finally in the second half they actually started playing smart and strung passes together. That combined with Honduras fatigue allowed the US players to have space to operate in and that made all the difference.

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    • The grit, resolve and mental toughness that is needed to win away WCQ in CA was missing for this inexperienced team at El Salvador, but they figured it out in the 2nf half in this game. For Panama and Costa Rica later on, same type of player selection.

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    • I agree with that assessment but with one caveat: Sands should have had about fourteen yellow cards and deserved to exit the game early. Shoulder-barging and tripping people all game doesn’t constitute ‘tactical’ fouling, and the Hondurans were right to be angry at the ref for never carding him. I for one was glad to see him leave the field.

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      • He plays to the ref’s calls. If ref doesn’t call it and control the game, things get brutal, aka welcome to CONCACAF. You think those Catrachos were angels? LOL look what happened to Pulisic if you think they were nice.

    • I didn’t say they were nice, Helium-3, nor do I think we should play ‘nice’ either. Some of our most iconic players in recent memory–Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones, for instance– were tough as nails, no-holds-barred players. That’s what we need, and I agree with Gary that it’s nice to see that old-school grit in these young guys. But there’s a difference between not letting someone push us around and pushing others around at every turn. Cheating is still cheating and bullying is still bullying, whether a referee calls it or not.

      Remember Nigel De Jong in the world cup a while back, when he cleated Xabi Alonso in the chest? He wasn’t sent off for that. Or when Materazzi whispered racial slurs into Zidane’s ears to prod him on, but Zidane got red carded for retaliating? Things like that happen all the time in soccer–in any sport for that matter– but that doesn’t make the actions okay or respectable. Maybe you and I just define ‘tough’ differently in terms of sport. Sands didn’t look like a soccer player playing soccer last night and, under soccer rules, he should have been penalized for it. That was my only point.

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  5. So, didn’t Pepi set up all three goals he didn’t score. Sure looked that way to me. Goal 1. Pepi back heel to Robinson. goal 2 Pepi header Yedlin assist. Goal 3 Pepi pass to set up Aaronson, goal 4: Rebound of Pepi shot cleaned up by Lletget.

    Also, This team needs to stop deferring to Pulisic so much. Hee’s good but not that good.

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    • He is that good as long as the referees do their job and protect the players. However, this is CONCACAF refereeing so the ref is always pressured by the environment or paid off, or a combination of both.

      You can’t try to dribble by 2 – 3 guys without expecting not to get hurt. It was brutal watching how he much he was fouled and he stilled tried to play his game. It’s part of paying your dues and you’d think he knew this by now with his experience from he last WC cycle.

      None of the Dutch club teams would survive here in CONCACAF with this style of “officiating”. LOL I remember Jozy got a yellow for bumping a guy and then was red-carded for dissent; Dutch league.

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    • Pulisic IS that good. Remember that last Hex he lead all comers in BOTH goals AND assists. The difference is that in 2017, he was flying under the cover of Dempsey, Jozy, Bradley, and the other vets. So he had freedom and played relaxed. This time around, he is trying to do it all…get the ball from midfield, drive to the box and score. Classic hero ball, which never works (especially in CONCACAF where they just foul the crap out of you when you do this). Not to mention all the teams are now gearing their defenses to stopping him. It’s not unlike what we saw with Messi.

      Pulisic needs to let the game come to him and trust his teammates. Release balls to runners in space. Use off the ball movement to avoid contact and get into the box where fouls are much more risky propositions. And lastly…just have fun.

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  6. turner played well — and keeper is important at this level, we just churn points when he’s around. the defense save brooks generally held, including adams, which i don’t want to encourage. pepi played well. robinson, aaronson, and lletget were good off the bench. roldan made a hell of a tackle on one of the goals. pulisic, meh, trying to do too much. sargent had little impact for the 3rd straight game. sands looked out of his depth at DM and like he had the wrong cleats on. i think he’s interesting as a developmental CB, i don’t think he’s ready. i’ll be curious who’s on the team next time, eg, does he call more people, weston, injuries, some of the omits on either coaching decisions or transfer situations, people who did get called but played poorly.

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  7. dear GB — take 30 next time. you may have decided in your head x is better than y but if x is hurt who cares and you might as well have brought both. this window hit about every contingency we brought and then some.

    also, if you pay more attention to who actually plays well in the shirt that is helpful.

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  8. they need some more pepi/ ferreira type players who combine well with others. i think some of it is the stupid system but until the second half they looked all week like they’d barely played together. i think we have some pool guys who combine better than this. get it — give it/flick it types. everyone can’t be james harden running an iso. they were better about that last night but i think some of it is simply some personnel.

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  9. pepi looked good, and better still, looked like he can do some target/ holdup play kind of things. and the fact he and pefok have goals on honduras — and sargent doesn’t — speaks to where i think that position should be headed. we’ll see how fast the coach catches on. but this is proving like keeper and back where the accidents are more interesting than his actual choices.

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  10. What’s up everyone! Haven’t commented on here for a few years. Still see several familiar names.

    Newsflash for “tinkering” Gregg!
    These players should be automatic starts for the next cycle if healthy:
    GK Any of the 3
    A Robinson RB
    M Robinson CB
    Adams MF
    Pulisic FW
    Aaronson FW
    Pepi FW

    Gregg can tinker with the other 4 spots.
    Dest or Yedlin at RB
    McKenzie or Richards at CB
    Reyna(playing a more central playmaker role), Musah, Acosta or McKennie at MF.

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  11. Gotta give credit where due. Everyone was saying this team needs to find some toughness and grit and grind results, well staring at a 0-1 deficit at half, the team really responded in the biggest moment. I was harsh with Berhalter after the first two games and those points stand, but he got it all right at the half, making major changes both with system and personnel. Even the Yedlin sub for injured Pulisic, steps right in and hits a beautiful cross for Pepi’s goal that changed the match. So happy these guys found a way to respond and end this window in a positive way.

    Some of my immediate takeaways: 1. Cycle after cycle we continue to see the European based players really struggle with away concacaf qualifiers (excepting this time only Tyler Adams and Aaronson), that tells me the travel is even more difficult on those players than we think. Solution – use more domestic players for the away games (and sub more often!!!). 2. Berhalter or someone on the coaching staff needs to have the balls and brains to sit Pulisic down and talk about his role. It has to be done carefully because the guy is our most talented player, our talisman, and his desire to help us win cannot be questioned. He is The One that can unlock the best defenses in the world, we know this because we’ve seen him do it at Chelsea and Dortmund. BUT, what we saw in the last two games is him trying to do too much and end up ruining the spacing of the team and getting in the way of our other guys at times. If he is going to be left wing, he needs to stay there and we need to figure out how to get him more touches. I don’t like saying this, and it’s not entirely fair because he did help create the first goal, but fact is we scored three after he came off injured, and the spacing and runs on those breaks by our guys were very good.

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    • “BUT, what we saw in the last two games is him trying to do too much and end up ruining the spacing of the team and getting in the way of our other guys at times. If he is going to be left wing, he needs to stay there and we need to figure out how to get him more touches. I don’t like saying this, and it’s not entirely fair because he did help create the first goal, but fact is we scored three after he came off injured, and the spacing and runs on those breaks by our guys were very good.”

      Have you considered that maybe it is the other guys on the team who can’t keep up with Pulisic?

      That he sees openings before they do and they aren’t ready?

      A guy like him is not going to give the ball away if his teammates are not open. He will try to keep itm try and look for another opening until they are.

      Tell you what don’t call him up for the next 5 games and see how that goes. If his injury is serious he may not be available anyway. As they say, be careful what you wish for.

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      • having watched CP now like the rest of us, his style of holding the ball and relentlessly charging at players is awesome but last night, he turned it over a lot doing it, that stuff is on him, and the wayward balls, on him. It’s not about folks keeping up or whatever, it’s about the TEAM and fitting into what the team needs and is doing…this team, the USMNT, not Chelsea. I still think CP has a ways to go there which is great news considering how much impact he already delivers. I love his gritty determination, we all do,yet as we have all noted here for a while, his style of play gets him clobbered out there, like last night.

    • Agreed on Pulisic. He needs to trust his teammates and just let the game come to him. Like Messi pre-Copa2021, Pulisic’s trying too hard to will the team to victory and it is affecting how he plays. Dropping way back in midfield to collect the ball…trying to dribble past 3 defenders…not laying off to open runners…taking ill-advised shots. And he is definitely getting in the way of others, as we saw in the Canada game where he took a cross away from Pefok right in front of net. I love CP10. But I want my striker to be the one to latch onto that ball and my winger to clean up any rebounds or loose balls afterwards. Berhalter needs to take him aside and get him to chill out a bit. Go back to having fun and PLAY.

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  12. I still can’t get over how bad Brooks looked these last two games. If I didn’t know anyone on the roster and someone told me that one of our center-backs was a key player in the Bundesliga and the other was an up-and-comer in the MLS, I would say within five minutes that Miles Robinson was the European-based star. John Brooks looks like the reincarnation of Omar Gonzalez right now and I’d take Walker Zimmerman over him any day of the week.

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    • He’s not suited to play in this environment (away CONCACAF WC qualifiers). You need players who are hungry and want to make a name for themselves (Robinson) rather than guys who are already established.

      We’ll need him when we play at home and at the World Cup. He’s definitely better than most of our defenders but his mind wasn’t in it, as everyone saw from his body language.

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      • You might be right, but wouldn’t that sort of scenario obliterate team morale? Imagine if someone like Brooks decided not to risk travelling to Mexico or Panama or Costa Rica, but guys like Zimmerman got the job done in the trenches and won us promotion to the World Cup. Can Brooks just come back after all that and say, “Alright boys, thanks for doing the dirty work–now I’ll be taking over from here”? I don’t think so. So, for me, the guys who earn us the right to play in the World Cup should be the guys who represent us in the World Cup (barring injuries to other players of course).

      • as i discussed below, this sort of “but at the world cup” argument is malarkey. our 433 keepaway attempts have been no better against outside teams. and brooks and dest and miazga have shipped goals to european and south american teams just the same. brooks in particular shipped goals to england, colombia, and others. those teams will be just as aggressive at going after weak links — or did you forget what the fairly meh swiss were doing — and IMO the only difference on defense is not so much aggression as they tackler cleaner.

    • the past few games should have been an exercise in reminding people that your address doesn’t make you a better soccer player at this level. it’s “logical” malarkey. logic doesn’t mean something is factually true. it means the logic stream follows as a sort of math process. in theory big league players should be more professional and play better. that is not my experience. some guys have big MLS deals or want to be here. some could play in europe but won’t until they get sold in a couple years, at which point people will chat up their new address. some of the europeans are excellent. some are overrated. IMO the Venn of good MLS and mediocre-to-bad abroad players overlaps. ok, let me see them on the field. sometimes it’s the euro guy, sometimes not. let the players decide it.

      i also think for some reason people seem to ignore gaping holes in the games of players with prestige addresses. to me as a defender when i watch someone dive into the midfield out of position, whiff on the tackle, make no body contact or professional foul, then be so glacially slow he can’t get back 20 yards and help mark a striker on a play that goes wide then back in, you have problems. it’s ironic berhalter loves him because i remember a certain 4-0 torching right before the 2006 world cup where germany went over the top repeatedly on GB, sending him back to the bench where he sat all tournament later that year.

      anyways, to me this summer and fall have been a reminder we should emphasize how they look in our shirt. a lot of surprises shined and a lot of resume players disappointed. and IMO many of those resume players didn’t have a bad day so much as they are trying to hide flaws that can be exposed any night. they are fairly well trained and useful in other ways, and they hide their issues well. but if you can’t stay with a man and your goal in life is to play defense…..that’s an issue….there’s a reason bobby boswell had 3 caps and that’s it…..particularly at that level not every play is soccer IQ meets running less than 5 yards…..

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      • I’ve had vague flashbacks of Brooks getting torched in the past, so thank you for reminding me of the origin of that specific recurring nightmare: Germany, 2006.

      • I will add this for you to consider. IMO, part of being a good player for a particular team is playing to weaknesses and strengths of your teammates. Someone like Dest does not not have many teamates with weaknesses at Barca as well as our other big name team players so they can focus mostly on their strengths. US cant feild 10 feild players that dont have weaknesses and that requires adjustment of your game. Players that dont make the adjustments arent a great fit for that particular team. An analogy; as musician (crappy one at that) I have played with a lot of guys that were individually great but were they playing the same song as the rest of us?? Wasnt a good fit. Do you think this is part of the issue?

      • tele57: most goals are a series of mistakes and it doesn’t help dest if the CBs aren’t doing so spiffy either. kind of like it would help hide brooks if he didn’t have to chase a man so much. but it’s the job. it could be a little of what you say but in club is also probably a little of the “but he’s a great player” excuse. a good club will have layers of good players to get through to get to the defense, yes, but if they allow something it tends to get excused as “but it was chelsea” or “but it was mbappe.” i watched dortmund get a goal in each game off brooks a few years back. the response was, but that’s dortmund, they’re good. to me this is an excuse of the mediocre, conceding other teams and players are just better and going to remain so. but it also serves to hide player weaknesses that may be vulnerable to even easier teams. the argument implies they scored because they were so good. but what if the player just has a weakness and the snobs miss it because they only watched barca vs real or barca vs psg but not some random game where they also got after dest.

        brooks is slow afoot and has a problem diving in and getting clumsy sometimes. he also is a little soft, almost tries to avoid contact. dest flinches at fakes like a schoolboy. i am not sure how much of that is fixable. these are adults, not kids. i learned my key defensive lessons in like 5th-8th grade. and if you missed those lessons or your team doesn’t teach them, then any team can get at you that way, and i agree, with the way soccer games get played, perhaps it will be more apparent when you are with weaker players, or when your opponent is better — but it’s always there. it’s just the team has to get the ball up to your spot often enough to do anything about it.

    • also re the snobbery problem, when you look at how, say, the dallas players in particular seem to play out over time, for them the euro snobbery stuff is lame. in 2-5 years the good ones will be there soon enough. the goofy thing being where FCD sits in the standings….bluntly the whole thing is about 5-10 years stale, a comment on the prior generation that didn’t cut it. this bunch if they’re here, even for now, it’s a career choice and not a talent assessment. they could be there tomorrow. at which point “there now” vs “there tomorrow” is an arbitrary difference.

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  13. Put better people on the field. Free them up to play more like they want — including — god forbid — sometimes hoof it forward to get after the space behind the defense. Magic. Voila. Basic problem I see is the coach has poor selection eyes and the actual way he wants to play doesn’t work. I think he’s basically learning his job on the job.
    Repeatedly we find ourselves a few games deep into an event — a tournament, a window — when he is forced to improvise on players and tactics. Then we look interesting. We look lousy with his people playing his way. So can he get out of his own way? Happy with the win and obviously he stays employed, but in terms of whether this is going anywhere, you can’t keep having game sequences where, as someone said, you look lousy for a couple games, then a breakthrough finally at the end. You play bad when Qatar starts — he sends his idea of the team to play keepaway by the flag in a 433 — and it will be over before he catches up.

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  14. A lot of these inexperienced players need to realize that how they play in the PL, Bundesliga, Serie A, etc, won’t work against Jungle Ball style.

    They figured it out in the 2nd half, playing a little more direct and going through the outside, and not too much dancing (Pulisic) and dribbling in the middle, only to turn the ball over and chase.

    That’s why Pulisic got hurt, he should know CONCACAF is not suited for the way he tried to play through the middle in the 1st half. Play simple and to the outside, cross the ball on the first chance rather than trying to combine 2-3 passes then cross. You’re not playing for people on TV but playing to get a result.

    This is an away game in CONCACAF, its about surviving Jungle Ball, not styling while playing in the Jungle.

    You can play with style for home games, but away games, especially against CONCACAF Jungle style teams (all except Mexico, Canada), need to focus on getting a result first and foremost.

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    • Dude, when your take the ball to the flag and play keepaway tactics look amusingly similar to how we closed the game out last night, maybe they don’t work how he thinks. Like running out the clock on our own game at 0-0 in the 1st minute. As a defender, I would love what they do. You go wedge yourself in the corner and one defender can mark more than one man, and oooooooh so scary, they might whack a blind cross in, I am shaking in my boots. I would buy you a gift basket. Thanks for farting around the perimeter.

      At some point people need to get Barca and Spain could do it because of a special set of players good enough to play keepaway against professionals. Most teams are not that good. We can’t string enough passes to bother. We end up creating our own counters.

      No, you got it, we got back to basics, use the height, athleticism, speed, direct to goal instead of the flag, clear it out when we need to, play it long sometimes and test the defense. Get people in space and run. Ironically if we get space we then have some fairly technical players who can do nice things.

      I also agree with your argument that the tactics work for the opponents, ergo are a better idea. I think you used it disdainfully but the reality is Concacaf was never going to sit around meekly while we tried to play keepaway, and is not going to refrain from taking advantage of poor defense. You have the opponents you have. Tactics are not aspirational, they are supposed to work on the teams you play. I always giggled at the one team in our select league that talked down their nose about how the rest of us didn’t play the game right then finished third in league every time. I was always like, we’re the ones winning league, maybe you should take notes. Style over substance.

      Last point, I think it’s myth that it’s just Concacaf. Look at our record this cycle against teams out of the region. It’s abysmal. This “crap” he’s pushing doesn’t work outside of here either. They may play a more refined offense of their own, but I have yet to see us pass an outside team to death either. It’s a tactical concept for a billionaire’s team with an endless checkbook. We didn’t dominate the Swiss, the English, the Irish, the Italians, or even the Northern Irish. We did worse. So if the idea is hold this in the hangar as world cup tactics, won’t work now, but maybe then, hahaha. The sales pitch was malarkey. The team that won the Euros tackled everything that moved and committed limited numbers of strong technicians forward. They did do some high tempo ground passing but they could handle it. We can’t. Our tactics need to reside in the world we live in. 99.99% of teams don’t pick their tactics for how they wish the world was, they pick them to win on Wednesday. Honestly I think this whole thing is an aesthetic argument dressed up as a tactical one, because I have heard some of its proponents say they’d rather lose than look a little rougher. I prefer the winning soccer business and think people overrate the aesthetic beauty of watching this set of players try and play keepaway. When you have trained up 30 kids Barca style since 5 to play touch soccer we can talk, and even then they won’t win UCL if they refuse to play defense…..but, really, to me, the two are not diametrically opposed or exclusive. You play hard defense, you win the ball, you get out QUICK instead of slow, including over the top if need be, and then we worry about technique, which is easier to do if you’re not trying to complete 30 straight passes with defenders hanging over you trying to crush your ankles…..

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  15. Talk about a tale of 2 halves! That first half was about as bad as it could get. The team look beyond lost, some of them were half trying, etc. Gooch, Dempsey, and Davies said it best about Brooks: He had his chance and not sure he should be called in again soon. He literally looked disinterested and wasn’t disciplined at all. Sands continues to look like a deer in the headlights constantly getting beat out there. But those subs really changed it. Antonee Robinson was a man possessed out there! And what can you say about Pepi-He got better as the game wore on. Expected to win at home, instead won on the road. Nice job!

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  16. Give a ton of credit to these kids.
    They fought back.

    October will arguably be more pressure with 2 home games and a real hard road game in panama. 6 pts will be required.

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  17. You don’t get to the World Cup on style, you get there on points. Credit to everyone for figuring it out. Great to steal 3 points on the road to make up for Canada tie. USMNT are going to be fine.

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  18. I can’t get excited over one half out of the 3 game window.
    That’s some of the most disjointed garbage I’ve ever seen in a group of matches that mattered.
    Player selection, lineup choices, tactics, lack of urgency and heart, substitution patterns, whatever u wanna look at.
    And thank Honduras for their bad 2nd half choices making us look better than we really were…
    Without Adams and Myles Robinson we might as well be at the bottom of the table after 3 games.

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    • But we’re not.
      If Cananda wouldn’t have scored their goal we’d be on 7 points. The “should” “would” game can be played both ways.

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      • Sure that’s why they play the games, we could just as easily be sitting on 2 points..but either way we still looked like disjointed garbage

    • One of the major “would/shoulds” is the idea that GGG will be fired. I still want him out. But it probably wasn’t happening unless we dropped major points next window, and it almost certainly won’t happen now. I look forward to cringing at the first half for the next few months.

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    • Yes it was only 1 half out of 6. But it was also only 1 of 2 halves with Pepi leading the line…and actually 1 of 1 where we actually went with our base 4-3-3 instead of a Greggiola experiment. I think we will find that having a goal dangerous striker will do wonders for this team. It will open spaces for our wingers to be as deadly as we know they can be and it will put fear into opposing defenses and keep them from double-teaming those wingers. Also remember that the best way to open up CONCACAF bunkers is to score goals. And that is a much more likely proposition going forward with Pepi leading the line.

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      • The first 5 halves we coulda had Messi leading the line and I doubt we would have had any more shots on goal.
        As long as we have an invisible midfield leaving acres of space & not winning any 2nd balls we’ll continue to starve the attack of service and expose the backline big time.
        Without Adams it woulda been worse, without Acosta in the gold cup it woulda been worse. (Not to mention Turners outstanding performance)
        Other than the final vs Mexico in the gold cup & Honduras after they tell apart in the 2nd half, our midfield play has been ridiculous, so poor..
        If GB doesn’t do something different we’re gonna continue to see this, disjointed play hoping for a result

  19. A really impressive second half and a excellent result, with the 4th goal pushing us ahead of Canada in the rankings.

    Great contribution from the subs and especially Robinson. Speed was missing in the first half and Aaronson, Robinson, and even Yedlin remedied that.

    But why keep trying these weird lineups – just play people in their best spots and try and keep some continuity in the starting 11.

    At least GB didn’t wait until the last 10 minutes to make subs…

    Now we can breathe a bit easier but the road is still long.

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    • It’s funny. If the coach keeps playing the same 11 folks hammer him for playing “favorites” but he plays different players and folks hammer him for doing that. Its a real shit job to be the coach.

      Also… he literally can’t just play the same 11 all the time because his guys keep getting injured or breaking rules… and there is a shit-ton of travel going on.

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      • Continuity doesn’t mean the same 11 every game. Of course that’s rarely possible for reasons you highlight.
        It does however mean you establish a core group that plays in their best roles.
        Why move Adams out of the middle to start the game?
        Why not start Robinson and Aaronson when they have been some of our best players in the other games?
        Why the crazy lineup experiments for each game?
        Etc…
        The more you stick to a core group the less they will look like it’s the first time they ever played together.
        At least GB wasn’t as stubborn as usual and made the common sense adjustments at halftime.

      • I’m okay with Berhalter playing guys like Sargent and Adams every game. I’m not okay with him playing them at fullback. Maybe we could try Sargent in goal next.

    • Dantes,

      Moving adams was a little weird. But he’s played there a lot. It’s not akin to moving Sargent to GK. Also, I’m not liking the formation, I may not like some of the choices he made, but I think in general lots of people just flip-flop on the player thing.

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  20. You guys are way too excited about this win. The team certainly showed heart and grit, which was in short supply previously. So good for them. But the 4-1 scoreline flatters them. They have played 5 of 6 halves in a lackluster and disjointed manner. A single half of football doesn’t change that.

    Berhalter is still doing weird shit with the lineup, so not sure how that gets fixed (was that a 5-4-1 or some sort of attempted 3-4-3?) and I’m not sure that Pepi is the godsend answer to our scoring troubles either (in particular his poor foot positioning on the cross in the 1st half and his failure to slot away the 4th goal concern me greatly).

    However, I think we have found a full time captain in Tyler Adams. That bodes well for the next 5-10 years. I think we have (sum total of work after multiple games) found a LB in Antonee Robinson. That solves lots of problems (Dest).

    Let’s see what happens next window. 2 home games and Panama. They are going to need to perform better overall in that window. Escaping with a single well played half will not leave us in good position for the back half of qualifying.

    Also, I am still favoring a 2 striker combination rather than the 4-3-3. I think we need to occupy both CB with strikers to give us more scoring punch. I hated it previously because we didn’t have any decent wide backs. But it seems like that problem has been solved – finally. So lets add a striker.

    Sargent/Dike-Pepi/Pefok
    Pulisic (LM) – Reyna (RM)
    Mckinnnie(lleget)-Adams (CMF)
    ARobinson(LB) – Whomever is in form – Dest/cannon/yedlin (RB)

    If Mckinnie stops the bullshit, you can sub in Lleget, Aaronson, or whomever else as needed and switch up the MF into a diamond, or you can drop him and put them in. Late you can drop Dest, and put in a MF/extra FW. Or Sargent can drop back a bit and it can look more like a 4-5-1 and if you are ahead, you can add some bite by dropping one of the FW and adding in a MF.

    don’t expect it to happen, but with this group of guys, I would do that.

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  21. 6 of my takeaway (opinions only):
    1. To qualify, win at home draw away. Mexico at +2, US at 0, all other teams gave away points
    2. Not giving Berhalter too much credit; roster selection, despite potential club limitations of many European players, dug a pretty deep hole.
    3. MLS based players are important for qualifying; many very good European based players have played very bad in qualifying, especially on the road. The travel is difficult.
    4. Acosta is an important player because of his toughness and willingness to smartly put in hard fouls. Right now, it is just he and Adams so he needs to be on the feild.
    5. Pepsi must have had some pretty bad training sessions not to get 20 minutes against ES and Canada when looking for a goal
    6. Brooks makes my eye twitch

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  22. This game felt a bit like the 2001 home qualifier against Mexico. When McBride and Reyna went down it looked bleak, then Josh Wolf and Clint Mathis stepped up and changed the game to lead us to a 2-0 win. Hopefully this win over Honduras can galvanize this team the way the first Dos a cero did for that 2001 squad, who you might remember did pretty good in the World Cup that cycle.

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  23. – Can anyone just figure this team out? I cannot. That may have been the best 2nd half of an away WCQ the US has ever played. They’ve only won once ever when falling behind in an away WCQ. Scoring 4 goals in 1 half at home in WCQ would be impressive, but in a hostile location like San Pedro Sura?
    – Give GB credit. I thought why not try something new with the lineup as it wasn’t working in the other 2 games. He made the right adjustments.
    – Myles Robinson and Tyler Adams played every minute of all 3 games, and were really impressive. One could see Adams growth over the last 2 years. But it seems Myles has broken through recently and has earned his roster spot going forward.
    – Matt Turner saved a certain goal in the 2nd half that could’ve changed the game towards Honduras. Another unknown breaking through.
    – Sands like everyone else was lost in the 1st half, but adjusted to the new lineup and improved in the 2nd half. He looks like he can handle WCQ, likely as a sub.
    – I thought of this after the McKennie debacle, but maybe with A Robinson impressing at LB, is it realistic to try Dest at outside MF?
    – We know Dallas and Atlanta like to sell, but Pepi’s stack and M Robinson’s stock rose in the Sept. WCQ. No idea if NE would cash in on Turner. Might even see Aaronson move to Liepzig. January may be interesting.

    Reply
    • There’s some SKYROCKETING stocks over this one, for realz. Pepi just launched himself onto everybody’s radar with this one…the dude speaks Spanish (which puts him on La Liga’s radar), he’s FC Dallas (which endears him to the Bundesliga, since there’s seemingly nothing more than German scouts like better than stealing players from FC Dallas), and the USA is Top-10 now, which means he’s probably soon going to be eligible for a UK work permit. Dude is going to have some OPTIONS, and his agent’s phone is going to be ringing, like, a lot. I agree with those who think it’s just a matter of time before Aaronson makes the jump to Leipzig (which means Big Red Bull might soon have an all-American central midfield!), and my suspicion is EVERYBODY is going to want Miles Robinson here in a minute. Out-of-the-box, polished CB, game-ready for the bigs. I think he’s better than Brooks already and he’s certainly a much better athlete. There will be massive interest.
      The fascinating part was Who Got It Done. You lose arguably 6 of your top 7 players per their team profiles – exempting only Tyler Adams who was being played at the wrong position for 75+ minutes and thus had minimal impact! – and a bunch of MLS’ers and (exempting Antonee Robinson) a bunch of lower-tier players Got It Done. That’s extremely encouraging.
      Also, as a coach, Berhalter obviously made some mistakes but he at least had the courage to send McKennie home when he wasn’t respecting Gregg’s authority, he had the courage to start an 18-year-old MLS’er in Pepi at a critical juncture when two high-profile Euro guys weren’t getting it done, and he at least had the courage to admit his Grand Plan of a 3-4-3 or 5-2-3 or whatever the eff he was doing there in the first half wasn’t working, and make massive changes at halftime. So he can be wrongheaded but at least he isn’t pigheaded stubborn on top of it, and he does have eyes. A coach doesn’t have to be perfect…but he does have to have authority the players must respect, and he does have to be flexible enough to respond to situations, or the players will bow up on him. I think he kept the team here despite some big, BIG potholes and that’s huge for him.
      Definitely felt like a “breakthrough” moment for this team and for Gregg.

      Reply
      • Agreed. We need to consider the MLS season ending in a couple of months, and there are key players on the US roster that may be idle while WCQ continues. I am guessing a few MLS clubs will accept a reusable offer from Europe come January. But it seems a few others who are marketable may want to try to go out on loan to stay in form.

    • some of the 4 goals was simply that as the game eroded their coach tried to chase a comeback goal and pushed numbers up, and we kept countering them for another. i get an “L” is an “L” but GF/GA/GD can be tiebreakers, as we learned in nations league.

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  24. So stoked for Pepi. and the team. That was close to a disaster in the making. Had areal pit in my stomach seeing that first half play out. Credit to GB though for starting the young phenom who bailed him out from an impending avalanche. Just when I think I can’t be shocked by what GB does…. he trots out that starting line up. I don’t know where to start… what in the actual F was that? Adams has been one of the few bright spots-one of our best players so… lets sabotage the spine of our team- move him to RB. Great 2nd half subs, but.. can you give someone too much credit for correcting an obvious S sandwich of his own making 45 minutes too late? Everything is made way more complex and difficult than it has to be. Greg.. please… nothing else- put the best players in the lineup… in their best position and get out of the way.

    Reply
    • I totally agree with you. How can you pat GB on the back for his adjustments, when he is the one to blame for the starting line up that didn’t work. It doesn’t make sense to me.
      Play our best players in their best positions. Maybe I’m making it too simple?

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  25. Someone above kept Bello in the mix for the future. The guy, unfortunately, was awful. Fully responsible for Honduras’ goal, the scorer made a clean run through the box while 21 just stood there and let him by, looking completely confused by the situation. I hope we don’t see him again.

    Reply
    • Bello is the guy who doesn’t play but just has to be good (!!!!!), mostly because he doesn’t play and he just has to better than anyone else! The kid has a long way to go. Don’t write him off, as there are tools there, but he ain’t no prodigy. It’s easy to appreciate boring Sam Vines after watching Bello. Fingers crossed we get Gomez (don’t see it TBH), and for Paredes to continue his climb (but his defense needs a lot fo work also. Get 6 at home next round and all is well w the world again. Isn’t depth great? If Vines, Hoppe, Scally keep playing and Chris R plays regularly we will be able to wear so many of these teams down as qualies go on. No way most will be able to maintain their intensity.

      Reply
      • Belo was partially responsible. It was Brooks who made the stupid play in the middle and then made no attempt to recover. Watch the Canadian goal and its eerily similar. Brooks not doing his job in front of net. Time to move on from him.

    • Agree about Brooks. Two goals this window on him. Brooks has always been uneven at best in WC qualifying matches.
      Whether under JK or here under GB. Can’t keep blaming coaches. Brooks has also has a very up and down career in Germany. His professionalism at Hertha was an issue, and multiple directors and coaches have had issues w him. He had his best season at Wburg last year but don’t forget the coach wa unhappy with him, and tried to replace and sell him. No one bit at a price where they could recoup their initial outlay. Credit to John for earning that trust back but John needs a lot of structure it would seem, and has never been consistent for long. It’s nice to have options. With Richards back at Hheim he should get games. He has had issues staying healthy for long stretches. He is an excellent passer and better 1v1 defender than Brooks. He can take his spot next window if he plays well. Brooks has experience on his side, but hasn’t played like it. In this case why not go young if the young player has the same, if not better tools in some cases.

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  26. Celebrating this away W. Happy we were able to salvage this window. Not to be a pessimist, but we have a lot of work ahead of us. I have to credit 3G for his 2nd half adjustments. Pleasantly surprised. Hopefully there’s plenty of takeaways from this to help us moving forward.

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  27. Finally the team played a fantastic half of soccer, but it took an exceptional situation to get it. Pepi was a revelation. He filled in a huge gap the team was missing. Aaronson and Antonee Robinson are a big part of the team. They certainly understood the urgency of these games. I don’t need to see Brooks on the field, although I’m not ready to replace him with McKenzie or Ream yet. The biggest stars that were either injured or thrown out of camp will be back and they need to be better next window. The first half just added to my doubts about Berhalter. I like him as a person and I want him to succeed, but most of the bad soccer played these three games seemed to be due to his decisions and not individual mistakes. Finished on a great note though, so looking forward to better games in October.

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    • Its really interesting to keep an eye on Brooks in Oct. If were replacing Brooks it should be Chris Richards or Zimmerman in my opinion. But I still think Brooks is our best option for this cycle

      Reply
      • No! I hope to never see Brooks ball watching again. Zimmerman didnt see one minute. Pepi in all likelihood saved GB’s ass. Had we left this round with only 2 points, Ernie would have had to cut GB loose. I’m still not convinced GB is “fixed” but we’ll see in October. My number one question is how did GB not play Pepi in games 1 and 2? I think GB talent assessment is BAD, BAD, BAD. We’ll see what he does in October

  28. Aaronson and Robinson changed the game. Those were 2 key subs. Its nice to have bench guys like that in this pool. Robinson clearly our best left back. No more moving Dest over there. You either play Dest at RB or RWB or have him come off the bench. No more LB for Dest. We either play Robinson or Bello/Vines at LB

    Reply
    • Dest can start on the bench and fight for his spot as far as I’m concerned. Its been a ong time since he’s shown well in a USA shirt. Obviously he’s got the most talent but he needs to watch and learn what is expected when he plays in WCQ against CONCACAF opponents. There are so many RB options.

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  29. I know folks won’t do it, but I’m gonna give Berhalter credit. Team fought hard, subs worked, and I don’t remember the US scoring 4 before in an away WC qualifier. And think about this for a moment…we had the three goal rally without Pulisic, McKennie, Reyna, Dest, or De La Fuente on the field. Only Adam’s of our big Euro stars was out there for that rally. Meanwhile, current or recent MLS players like Pepi, Lletget, Roldan, and Aaronsen all figured heavily in the goals. I honestly think 5 pts was a good haul from what is a really tough qualifying slog EVERY single time. For the next window we will likely get McKennie, Weah, Zardes, Cannon, Moore and Musah back. Berhalter is not getting fired, and I suspect we’ll be better in window 2.

    Reply
      • There is zero chance Berhalter loses his job even if he loses this game. People saying this are not talking reality. He had one more window – minimum.

    • Did the adjustments win it?

      Or did Honduras simply run out of gas?

      In the first 45 minutes they just went for it flat out and should have had more goals. But in the second half their subs subs were not as good and the others were just gassed.

      Good win and credit to them, especially Pepi and Adams, but its tough to get excited about the second half when it was necessitated by an abysmal first half.

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  30. Pepi saved Berhalter’s job and maybe the US hopes for qualifying. I guess he is cap tied. I don’t imagine he will want to change teams after that. An amazing comeback I never expected after that first half.

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      • GB saved his own job. And with the euro studs not contributing and players panned here coming through…Lletget, McKenzie, Roldan. Facts. Impressive. GB’s going to need to keep it up too. we’ll see if he can. The entire team responded to whatever went down at halftime. GB gets credit for that, just like when they fail, he gets the blame. Those are facts. McKennie sent home, CP gets hurt, Gio out, Dest out, etc. To say one player saved it all…it’s just not the facts. Aaronson, both Robinsons, Turner, and Adams who I thought was the MOTM. Could go on with more…….

      • Nah Beachbum, an 18 year old saved GB job. He put out a horrible lineup and tactics in the first half. Also lets not forget not bringing in subs in time in the first 2 WCQ game. Facts!

    • JA, I was also very surprised & very happy for this great US WC qual & away soccer game victory against a very good Honduras national team. The US second half was a complete reversal because the coach inserted fresh players plus must have also changed to a shorter US passing game which was totally more efficient/effective. Additionally, the US scored a couple of world class goals from A Robinson & very young Pepi. The coach instilled great motivation in the 2nd half & so these players & the coach deserve lots of credit for a fantastic 4:1 result (use it as a teaching/coaching tool)!!!

      Reply
    • In order for 18 yr old to save your job, like so many keep saying, you have to be gutsy enough to start him and stick with him in a big match. Berhalter could have stuck with J.S. or Pefok at striker. It was not an “obvious” choice, but it worked.

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  31. A lot has been learned, with some key players emerging (A Robinson, Pepi), some validating their spots ( M Rob, Adams, Aaronson, Pulisic) and some real shockers (Brooks)

    Looking into the next window, at this point, etched into the starting lineup in stone:

    Pepi, Adams, A Rob, M Rob, Aaronson, Turner, Reyna (if healthy), Pulisic (if healthy)

    Penciled in if Reyna/Pulisic are hurt, until someone comes and takes their spot: Acosta, Lletget

    Probably not walking into the lineup, but sure to get called back: McKennie

    Likely to get called back, probably as a sub: Ream, Pefok, McKenzie, Steffen, Horvath, Weah

    New chance to show what they got, including some as starters: Hoppe, Scally, Cannon, Musah, Green, Richards, Dike

    “Let’s keep talking”: Roldan, Konrad, Zimmerman

    “We’re probably gonna need you at some point”: Miazga, Busio, Vines

    “Yeah, don’t call us, we’ll call you if you’re needed”: Brooks, Yedlin, Dest, Sargent, Sands, Bello, Yuell

    Reply
    • Brooks and Dest are getting called in. Yedlin had a good 2nd half against Honduras. Losing Dest really hurt us against Canada. Brooks was awful and we need to keep an eye on that but lets not forget he was great in Nations League. Were not deep at centerbacks. Richards the only guy I would like to see come in. The rest I’ve seen enough. Maybe Zimmerman

      Reply
      • I’ve been very critical of Yedlin in the past, especially his crossing, but he was on point with the goal.

      • I wrote on some other thread that Yedlin needed to be be dropped, because he can’t pass. Happy to see that cross prove me wrong.

  32. Great win. Lots of heroes in that second half. For me, Brenden Aaronson continues to be a bit under-appreciated. He is such a G. Not easy to win in San Pedro Sula!

    Reply

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