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USMNT overcomes early deficit to beat Costa Rica

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The U.S. men’s national team conceded just one minute into Wednesday’s World Cup qualifying showdown with Costa Rica, but that nightmare start didn’t stop the Americans from delivering a memorable response and crucial victory.

Sergino Dest’s equalizer and an own goal from Costa Rica goalkeeper Leonel Moreira helped the USMNT fight back for a 2-1 victory at Lower.com Field. The result snapped a three-match losing streak to Los Ticos in qualifiers and helped ease the pressure on Berhalter following a first-ever qualifying loss to Panama just three days prior.

The Costa Ricans opened the scoring just one minute into the match when Ronald Matarrita’s cross found an unmarked Keysher Fuller, whose shot slipped past Zack Steffen, who was shielded on the shot by a Costa Rican player who appeared to be offside. Replays showed that Sergiño Dest kept the Costa Rican player onside by being off the field of play on the endline.

Dest made up for that transgression in unforgettable fashion, delivering a stunning left-footed blast of an equalizer in the 25th minute.

 

Zack Steffen kept things tied up heading into halftime after palming Celso Borges’ shot over the crossbar.

The Ticos were forced into a halftime change as backup goalkeeper Leonel Moreira replaced Navas in goal. The change eventually went in the USMNT’s favor as the Americans found their go-ahead goal.

Tim Weah was played in towards goal by a Dest pass in the 65th minute and the winger’s hard-driven shot deflected off the right post and off Moreira’s back. The 31-year-old wasn’t fast enough as he watched the ball trickle into his net, giving the Americans the 2-1 lead.

Costa Rica added the attacking talent of Randall Leal, Alvaro Saborio, and Christian Bolanos off the bench, but the Americans defended well the rest of the way to claim a third win of the octagonal round, and third in four matches, guaranteeing at least second place in the Octagonal to close out the October window.

The USMNT now heads into a one month break before returning to action on November 12 in Cincinnati against Mexico.

Comments

  1. I think Berhalter is still very much in the evaluation stage. Next window I think he will bring in Scally, Nico, Cannon and perhaps one more Green(?). If you brought those 4 and left off Lleget, Bello, Moore or Yedlin and Arriola I’d be happy. With no red list countries and only 2 matches not sure we’ll see more than 24 or 25 players.

    Reply
    • “I think Berhalter is still very much in the evaluation stage.”

      This late in the game? He’s been inconsistent for almost 3 years and 41 games.
      What makes you think he can change now? Why do people think he will do the sensible thing when he has shown, on a regular basis, a tendency to not do that

      He is what he is.

      The key is will the team be able to figure out how to save him from himself just enough to qualify.

      At this point the only evaluation of this manager is pass/fail.

      Qualify = pass
      Not qualify = fail

      It gets harder going forward.

      Mexico 11/12/21 H
      Jamaica 11/16/21 A
      El Salvador 01/27/22 H
      Canada 01/30/22 A
      Honduras 02/02/22 H
      Mexico 03/24/22 A
      Panama 03/27/22 H
      Costa Rica 03/30/22 A

      All those teams can, at the very least, take points off of the USMNT.
      Not a lot of wiggle room there.

      Reply
      • I think you misunderstood, he’s still evaluating players for spots 10-23. We’ve seen him give pretty much everyone that has had a level of success in NL or GC time in a qualifier. That would leave Cannon and Nico still without a turn. If Scally has another good month I don’t think he’ll leave him off. His vet options struggled so I think there’s a long shot he goes Green or maybe even Ferreira.
        —————————
        As for evaluating Berhalter if he doesn’t lose 2 in a window or draw all 3 I think he’ll be safe. Of course that would also likely mean we qualify fairly safely.
        —————————
        You’re right there isn’t a lot of wiggle room but wins at home over Honduras, Panama, and El Salvador and we’re probably in. If this was a regular 2 matches per window stage I’d have no worries the 3 match windows cause me some concern. 4 pts in November would have us feeling pretty good.
        ———————————
        Getting and staying healthy will go a long way towards that. Read Costa Rica had more positive tests today so hopefully all our guys avoid problems.

  2. A few random thoughts:

    1) That loss in Panama really hurt. Instead of being 6 points clear of 4th place we are now only 3. That’s massive going into the Mexico game.

    2) What the hell was GB thinking swapping out keepers? It reminded me of way back when Gregg Ryan subbed out Hope Solo for Brianna Scurry in the 2008 WWC semifinals. Nothing against Steffen (or Scurry) but in a must win game you must go with your best team. This isn’t AYSO.

    3) We interrupt this Destgasm to ask where he was on the CR goal.

    4) GB needs to work on killing off a game. Instead of wasting time, the players looked like they wanted to get more goals. Normally I am in the “the best way to preserve a lead is to increase it” camp but when you get into the 80th minute you need to do all the things CR would have don had they been up 2-1.

    Reply
    • OK so I’m gonna give my best GB defense, because I believe in balance.
      So let’s say the secret strategy was:
      1. Play your best players at home on good fields to use their talent optimally and have your best chance at 6 points. (If you have to grind on a bad field, why waste the technical talent when the ball won’t roll straight?)
      2. There is a lot of randomness in the outcome of the away games. Tell your B team in Panama that this is their chance to go prove to everyone that they belong on the A team, and see if they grind out a tie or a narrow win). You’re just as likely to get lucky as unlucky.
      3. Don’t admit that you have an A and B team, because there is so much pressure from the MLS lobby, you have to say that everyone on the team is as good as the next guy, and you have to get the MLS guys on the field. It’s also good psychological team management to make everyone believe that every spot is up for grabs.

      So part 2 didn’t work out, but it could have, and no one could have predicted how badly the players would play in Panama. Part 1 definitely worked.

      On this logic I can get behind GB. There’s got to be a theory where he’s not just stupid, because he’s clearly an intelligent guy.

      Reply
      • read my comment on the “other games” thread, mexico is managing some of the road results i am being told to blow off for USA. road in Concacaf is not easy but if there is a team ahead of you in the standings, whose superiority is debatable, getting points when you don’t, well, you’re asking me to make false, suboptimal assumptions about difficulty vs ease. when we’re in first place talk to me about what remains hard. right now 3 points back it feels like an excuse, and to some extent, must be. should we absolutely run the table? but should we be sitting on 11 points? hmm. somewhere in between there.

      • Hey IV, sure MX is getting results we aren’t, but we also are down 2 superstars. So just in terms of GB’s plan… resting superstars… there was a depth problem and he was resting the just good guys. Not to take away from GB’s mistake of not starting Yedlin, or bringing Scally and starting both of them in Panama. Also, the real problem here seems to be 1) Zardes. If GB had played Pefok, Sargent, or Hoppe and gotten the same result in Panama I would have been fine with it. Same thing with Busio, Musah, Luca dela Torre. But to just go back to a proverbial MLS well that just can’t cut it is a real problem.

      • “On this logic I can get behind GB. There’s got to be a theory where he’s not just stupid, because he’s clearly an intelligent guy.”

        The manager is an intelligent guy.

        That does not make him a good or even competent national team manager.

        Intelligent guys do all kinds of crazy, stupid, negative things.

        There’s lots of evidence that the manager is an intelligent guy.
        There’s also lots of evidence that he is stubborn and arrogant.
        There’s very little evidence that this manager is a good national team manager.

        Even qualifying won’t necessarily prove that since it is pretty reasonable to assume that this player pool, regarded by many of you as possibly among our best ever, is superior enough to take a lot of half -ass managers to the World Cup as long as they don’t mess it up too much.

        I will agree that knowing when to stay out of the way is a sign of great intelligence but this manager seems to only do that when he is forced to by circumstances. Such as doing something obviously stupid in the first place thus forcing him to have to make up for it.

    • When the room is that stinky (anti-fans spewing forth emotional reactions to the first loss in over a year that included two trophies and the team sitting in 2nd place in WCQ) sometimes you just open a window and let it air out. No sense and trying to deodorize until the smell dissipates bit. Also GB defenders are mostly created by the incredible hyperbolic negativity aimed at him. I don’t think there is anyone who is an out and out GB-is-the-greatest-coach-ever reader of this blog. The amount of disrespect is over the top and needs to be called out.

      Reply
      • Yeah. But it’s totally ok for a fan to go ape-sh!t when their team loses a winnable game. That’s part of this. You want passionate fans, right? Emotion and rationality are opposite things. You gotta take it both ways.

    • You have a right, however irrational, to react however. You asked where the GB defenders were in the Panama thread. I was just saying – letting you folks lose your sh!t. Btw…you are still here 4 days and a win later still losing it. I wonder how long it took German fans to get over their qualifying loss to North Macedonia or Dutch fans to get over their Norway loss or Spain’s loss to Sweden. Good teams lose sometimes….in games they should win.

      Reply
      • I did indeed. I get it. You were all letting us have our tantrum and waiting for the adult conversation to start…you patronizing punks! 🙂
        Anyway, I think a lot of the negative stuff is valid but no need to rehash.
        On your other point… Seriously! Imagine what it was like in Italy in the last cycle when they didn’t qualify!!

      • Dave P, I can tell you that in Italy it was an online commenting hellscape. Also, I know of some players who had to move because people were mailing them dogshit… in the mail. The coach and most of the middle tier of the federation was sacked (top guys are practically untouchable). Mostly, though, it was a giant apathetic yawn – and a lot of cheering for the women – with a whole bunch of super-sexist they are better than you sent in the direction of the men. Basically, Italy cares more about its club teams until the Men’s team actually shows that it is going to play. Like in this last Euro Cup, everyone in Italy was super quiet until they saw the team take Turkey apart. Then, when they saw them playing with passion, and love for the game, and heart for each other… then they got behind the team again. But right up to that point, they were playing in half/3/4 empty stadia.

      • Italy…a great …story.. when they start playing with heart the country got behind them. When will that happen here I wonder? And yes, I personally can be a little patronizing. Working on it though. Uh, gotta run…therapy appointment in 5…lol

    • The points Dave P. wrote are defendable, and I agree. I’ll add another. Get over that there is a Euro-based mercenary coach who would fly in to replace GB in CONCAFAF WCQ and get better results. Tangibles such field conditions, substandard officiating, compressed, travel-heavy schedules and minimal practice time are factors you do not pick up in Europe play and cannot be easily overcome. GB has his faults, but he knows the competition well, has done a commendable recruiting job, and did a pretty good job last summer coaching 2 mostly distinct US teams last summer in NL and GC.

      Reply
  3. Ok now we are ok 6 points from 3 games not 7, but….
    GB still stinks obviously and if we had the posters from SBI managing we would have 9, obviously, but 6 is ok.

    Other thoughts. MLS players still arent good and the Euro player I have never seen play in a league that is overrated by Americans, should still start because he is from Europe, when he plays badly….it was GBs fault for playing his teamates with him.

    People need to listen to Twellman…. every player that transferred to Europe developed in the month they were there. Watch the Canada game against Panama, Tajon Buchanan hasnt bseen yet, but Europe already developed him into a great player in two weeks since the transfer. And good for Jim Curan coaching players, to get them to where Europe could make them great in a month. It is cute what MLS is doing. Hopefuly they dont screw it up too badly, so Austria and other leagues drawing 10k fans a game cant save the mess.

    Reply
      • Nah, huge fan for almost 50 years and very involved too. Just being realistic. The US has scored 13 goals in 10 games and only lost one of them, but the average poster on here would have done better, cause GB stinks.
        .
        and the offensive players are a step below God.
        .
        OK, but at some point it might get hard to defend that point of view.

    • You are missing the point for those of us who are ripping GGG for Panama. No one questions the need to rotate or focus on the home games. What we are livid about is the decision to make 7 changes (too many) and use mostly mediocre MLS-lifers for those changes. In what world does any REAL coach believe that Zardes, Arriola, Lletget, Zimmerman, Bello, and Acosta should rate above Hoppe, Busio, Richards, or others like: Scally, Pefok, or Sargent? GGG blew it with his lineup. If he had sprinkled in the MLS plodders with some of this superior European talent then we would have at least gotten out of there with a tie. But because he just HAS to show the world that he is “smarter” than us all, he put his BOYZ in. And so, he absolutely deserves the majority of blame for the team laying an egg…

      Reply
      • I don’t think Gregg organized them correctly, but his “boyz” did win the GC with a very similar lineup (probably better with Weah, Zim, and Musah included for Panama). Panama didn’t even get out of their group. So it’s not like it’s insane what he did. What was more insane was two veteran MFs who had won two trophies this summer and played in that same setup at every opportunity since Covid shut down had their worst matches for the NT. I’d rather we sat deeper and made Panama break us down and then play direct into Weah and Zardes’ athleticism but if you have clear eyes you can see that that to might have been iffy in 90 degree heat with 90 degree humidity.

  4. Steffen was poor on the goal. That looked slow and saveable, and standard goalie protocol, at least when I was playing, was that if you can’t pick that cross outright, you meet the ball at the crosser. He was flat-footed waiting for the shot. To me you want to be out competing for the ball and crunching into the shooter. To the extent he was waiting for an offsides call — setting aside where Dest was — the whole dynamic now is finish the play because they are delaying offsides calls and you won’t know what you’ll get til the play is almost over. For comparison, Turner’s breakaway save from the weekend which then also got the whistle.

    It wasn’t so much Steffen’s fault but I also thought a lot of that game they defaulted back into Berhalter Ball, farting around the back, sideways midfield passes, corner flag buildups. Lot of backfield giveaways or chips shanked over the sideline.

    Reply
    • to be fair, i thought (a) turner had a rough night the other day and (b) whether for competition or just to keep the backups sharp, we should be occasionally, perhaps as often as once each 3 game window, sharing out keeper time. my whole point would be avoid the scenario where steffen got all the minutes then got hurt….and then what. i just also think (c) steffen or whoever sees backup time should then get the white glove treatment same as turner in terms of eval.

      Reply
    • IV, I have never been as big a fan of Steffen as some on this board. So it is not surprising to me that he was very meh on that first goal. However, Turner really needs to work on his crossing work. He was misplaying crosses and being out of position all game against Panama (I have a tough time judging guys in games where the ball is on the other side the whole time, so I’m not judging Turner or Steffen on the Jamaica and CR games respectively) and he didn’t do a good job managing the D from what I saw.

      Reply
  5. I assume Dest’s goal cements him for a few windows but the discussion lacks self-awareness. The GA was basically one wingback’s man beats Dest and feeds the other wingback’s man who lost Robinson. Fix wingback and that’s likely a tense game with a veteran team but also more like the Jamaica 2-0 clean sheet. +1 for us -1 against us nets out 0. I love that goal but it’s an attacker’s goal. Move him up.

    Reply
    • I agree Dest for all his ability to get forward and attack with speed seems to be ill-suited to defending, especially if/when the US faces teams that can attack up the left consistently. His patience to sit back and defend most of the time is questionable. His natural desire seems to be to get forward and abandon the defensive part of the game for stretches; a better team will simply attack the space he has vacated with 2 players who will then enjoy an attacking advantage. That is not a theoretical thing it has happened to him and only alert play by the centerbacks prevented disaster.

      Reply
      • I think we all have to be careful criticizing a man for doing what is asked of him. If coach is telling him to hoof upfield, then it is Musah/Adams/McKinnie/CB that needs to cover his backside.

  6. Weah looked fast and dangerous wide. Aaronson looked tired and was often whacking the ball into the first defender, not his day. Hoppe unfortunately reverted to swashbuckling Hoppe which is not what you need sitting on a tiny lead. Personally I think you could solve two sets of problems by moving Reyna, Pulisic, or both as CM, send Musah wide with Dest, Weah, and Aaronson. If it works, great, if not on one night, you drop Aaronson or Musah back to CM, sub in McKennie, push Reyna and Pulisic up. But I think we need more finesse and sharpness in the middle. People are like, why do we look like we do, well, the mids are 3 athletic bangers. I keep getting lectured about “8s” instead of “10s.” Well, if you want it less sloppy put something a little more “10” out there, duh.

    Reply
    • You can put a 10 out there if you go with a 4-2-3-1 but people complain about that also and I don’t know who else would play the 2nd 6. Right now, it is Acosta and Sands is probably 3rd on the depth chart so 6 is one of our weakest positions in terms of depth. Bottom line is a good coach figures out how to use the best talent he has instead of forcing a system. The formation is based on the players available and also the strengths and weaknesses of other teams. I would say they are playing a 4-1-2-3 as opposed to an actual 4-3-3 becauae I think of the CM in a 4-3-3 as an attacking player and that is not Adams role but maybe I am just old.

      Reply
  7. More throughballs, squared balls back to the spot, and combination passing towards the box. Less passing the ball sideways, backwards, or out to the flag for a meh cross.

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  8. I don’t believe the midfield is optimized yet. I think Adams is incredible as 6 but the rest are a bit sloppy. McKennie for someone who was rested looked a step slow and routinely gave it away with errant passes. I like Musah but I thought he looked better wide. I thought Busio looked solid but he was a sub. I think we can do better than that.

    Reply
      • I grant your point but he has a history of some giveaways dating back to his first caps in 2018. Personally I think he’s a raw player, without necessarily a position, who gets in spots on the field to make things happen. But I think he can, as he definitely was last night, be fairly sloppy. I’d like to see him as the supersub but this will offend the UCL fanboys. Because, kind of like Dest is best at attacking way high, McKennie is good at clutch crashings of the box. I’m not sure he’s the 90′ guy he’s become. But US soccer and particularly GB are slow to mess with perceived key elements, even when they are sputtering a little.

    • McKinnie has a very high ceiling. I’ll let you know what I think in a month after watching him with Juve for another month – now that things are tough there for him. If he can grind it out and get games and produce, then you are wrong. If he collapses and waits for a transfer… then you go with Busio in the MF from here on out.

      Reply
    • I thought Busio was awesome when he came in, although against clearly tired legs, but you can tell he’s confident and more forward thinking with his passes and mentality since he’s been playing in the Serie A with Venezia. We need to see more of him and hopefully LDLT the next window!

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  9. best part of the game for me was the urgency the USMNT played with, the energy defensively was excellent throughout from all players. that was the biggest difference to me playing at home, the defensive confidence and effort even after conceding early like that, consistently winning the ball back quickly and keeping the pressure up in CRs half. Pepi, Aaronson and Weah were all big parts of it and had excellent defensive shifts and allowed the midfield to intercept passes and disrupt

    Reply
    • Lemme put it this way, Aaronson and Weah are dangerous technical players who will also chase. Someone the other day said they preferred Arriola’s 10% more chasing. Surely they see how silly that is now.

      Personally I wish the “pressing” was more situational as opposed to gamelong. I think it tires out our offense, I think it encourages selection distortions, and IMO when this “keepaway” or “pressing” stuff is better suited to work, is as a “closer” tactic sitting on a lead. I want the directness from Honduras back and we can play Berhalter Ball to run out the clock, which is what it’s more appropriate for.

      You know, I “mind” Arriola chasing so we can play Berhalter tactics and lose to Panama. That selection made us sloppy and ineffective without a lead. I don’t “mind” Zardes’ few late chases resulting in balls won because it helps run out the clock and destroy their buildup but we’re sitting on a lead when he does it. Who filibusters their own attack?

      Reply
  10. to all saying play Euro players, it’s simple, well, Pepi is not one and he’s the best 9 by far in the pool. simple. And the 2nd half at Honduras, in the most must win of must wins on the road, with only one half to do it, players from where came through? That’s right memory challenged people, MLS. We need them all, they all must contribute, and they are all required. Arriola’s game against Jamaica? ALL needed. Go ahead, group think answers expected 🙂

    Reply
    • I think the whole MLS vs. Europe discussion is whack. We’ve got enough NT games banked now, play the ones who perform for country, regardless of home address. One of our continued selection problems is “reputation” players who only lose their jobs when hurt, get outplayed when missing, but get their jobs back when healthy. “Sorry, Lou, Wally Pipp’s headache is gone….”

      Reply
    • “We need them all!” Not that you need my approval, but agreed Dbl B! We bring up the ‘02 squad, but half the 23 were MLS players. JK knew more about US futbol tradition than US fans and his ‘14 squad had half his players were MLS players. Bob Bradley is the dividing line. Bunker Bob didn’t like MLS players. That was the inflection point of MLS vs European. The German-US player-Chandler, Jones, Fabian Johnson, got their 1st caps under Bradley but JK gets credit for winning with Bobs players. 3 best US finishes in the WC.

      Reply
      • dude, pre-Klinsi MLS vs not was not a real issue. the breakdown varied but wasn’t a bias so much as just where people were in their careers. the coaches at that time would have been more akin to berhalter in the sense of wanting you playing, as opposed to sitting or playing someplace particular. you would be judged more for a poor career choice than so much picking or not picking europe. klinsi was the one who got the snobbery in the bloodstream where he thought one career choice inherently better than the other. and by 2016 he had players believing, fair or unfair, he was selecting on those lines. arena overreacted the other way because he was concerned about german effort. GB is all over the place but at least some of his repeat picks, particularly in the back, seem to reflect less justified europhilia, that yedlin brooks ream dest robinson “must be better they play for these good teams in europe.” people on lesser european sides, moore, cannon, less so.

        i want out of the heck-hole JK created. judge people on NT games. quit with the MLS vs europe whipsawing.

      • IV, Spare me the pedantry! Edson Buddle was the only player from the MLS of note, I can remember playing for Bob Bradley. How many caps did he get? No US coach had any problems with the MLS before Coach Bradley. Are you off your meds?

  11. As long as coach favors MLS players over more talented non MLS players USA will struggle. It’s easy to see. Has been for a long time.

    Reply
  12. They are very lucky Bryan Ruiz is old and slow. That giveaway was atrocious. And they almost conceded on a free kick toward the end of the game when they plowed through the defense (literally) and Steffen grabbed the ball. Overall, they played well, but made some bad mental mistakes that could and, at least one case, should have cost them.

    Reply
    • if Ruiz wasn’t afraid of his right foot, he gets that shot off, no problem, but everyone knew he’d do whatever it took to try to get back to his left. I give the D credit there, and Ruiz takes the blame for being afraid to even try it with his right foot. After all these years he’s still a one footed player and it cost him and his team. I have always like him

      Reply
    • Who do you think was most at fault on the giveaway M. Robinson or Richards. The pass from Robinson was weak, but Richards stood flat-footed and waited for it rather than recognize the danger immediately. Robinson did recover nicely and managed to win the ball without even a whimper for a call against him. (Ruiz should have scored, but the combination of Robinson’s speed and tackling ability and his own inability to avoid the tackle and get off a shot doomed him.) Mistakes like that will be punished by better, quicker forwards.

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  13. Such a difference in quality having the midfield w/ Adams,Musah,Mckennie and outside backs with good skill and high level experience. I actually think McKennie might be the weakest link between those three mids and going forward-question could be who starts with Adams and Musah when everyone’s healthy. And I thought Busio looked good in the little time he got. The US has never had this level of talent in a squad. Berhalter should be very thankful. He just needs to not make obviously dumb lineup and roster decisions and we’ll be fine.

    Reply
  14. Again, it’s simple – play European players. That’s it (outside of a defender and Pepe.
    They’re on a whole different level and tonight showed it. You add in MLS players and replace some of the European players to that team tonight us would have tied or lost. As it was the US didn’t give Costa Rica a chance to breathe it was embarrassing for the poor Costa Rican players and I like that team

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  15. I feel GB is vindicated for going with prioritizing the home games this window and starting the Gold Cup crew in Panama. Those were some obviously tired legs out there in the second half – with Aaronson, Pepi and Musah looking the most tired. I’ve never seem Aaronson worn out before. An earlier poster lamented the team “letting off the gas”. They were simply out of gas. These three game windows have no precedence in WCQ. They make navigating line ups and rosters really difficult. It’s a good thing team was mostly rested. They looked so much fresher than Costa Rica. I would have liked to see Hoppe and Busio in at the hour mark and Hoppe in for Pepi instead of Weah (although he looked tired too). Matt Turner is the number one until Steffen gets to playing as a regular starter. Looking forward to getting Puli and Reyna back. Who gets left off though? Arriola and Zardes seem logical with Hoppe moving to the nine along with Pepi. Bello needs to give way to Scally. PULI-PEPI-AARONSON with Weah,Hoppe, KDLF reserves. MCKINNIE-ADAMS-REYNA with Musah, Acosta, Busio, DLT reserves A.ROB-BROOKS-M.ROB-DEST with Scally,Richards, McKenzie, Zimm, Yedlin in reserve for Mexico and Jamaica.

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  16. I’m so so tired of the armchair jockeys constantly blaming our struggles on Berhalter. I’ve watched most every WC Qualifer since the 1994 WC and there is a LONG history of struggle in qualifying–it happened under Arena, the Bradley, then Klinsmann, then Arena again, and now Berhalter. This is par for the course…regardless of our coach. It’s amazing how quickly folks forget the US wilting in Honduras during the 2014 cycle. We looked awful–pretty much exactly like we looked Sunday in Panama’s sweltering heat. Back then we had Bundesliga players looking terrible in the humidity. In Panama on Sunday it was struggle by our Ligue One and La Liga players.
    I remember us squeaking by Antigua and Barbuda that same cycle on a 90th minute goal by EJ. I remember Conor Casey–yes, CONOR CASEY having to save us in Honduras in the 2009 Cycle. I fail to see who this magical new coach is that is somehow going to change things so that CONCACAF is easy.

    We are who we are–we have good players but CONCACAF is tough and will be for the foreseeable future. We will probably qualify, but not without more tough nights full of struggle. This is par for the course-it’s part of being a fan of this team, tbh. Those of you who think we should just roll over Concacaf opponents have very short memories or are so new to the party that you don’t know what the past has looked. Get over the hubris and accept it.

    Reply
    • No. GGG is underperforming. Many of his decisions are noticeably odd.

      People aren’t mad that the USMNT isn’t winning every match 4-0. We’re annoyed that GGG has for 2 years made obviously bad choices and gets bailed out by better players than we’ve had in a decade.

      You think the fact that we’re struggling the same as we did in 2014, when Kilinsmann was coaching, is evidence that we need to pipe down. I see it as evidence of the opposite. The players are measurably better, and the results are the same or worse.

      Hubris is not asking that our manager wise up of get out. Hubris is starting Acosta-Lletget-Arriola-Zardes in Panama and only pulling 2 of them after pulling the best ball mover. THAT was GGG. Not the people calling him out for that boneheaded decision.

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    • @Shaun T Lopez, I agreed with you totally that CONCACAF WCQ is no cakewalks; however, how do you defend Berhalter for his poor squad & player selections. In Panama, a NOT in form Shaq Moore started; a NOT up to the level George Bello started; a NOT up to the level Arriola started (he would have started over Tim Weah against Costa Rica tonight too if not of his groin strain); 2 terrible midfielders in Kellyn Acosta and Sebastian Lletget started. Mathew Hoppe, Gianluca Busio, Chris Richards, Luca De La Torre did not play even one minute. I rest my case.

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      • Hindsight is 20-20. I’ll give you FIVE data points that suggest that Berhalter’s choices vs Panama we’re reasonable when he made them. 1)The MLS contingent came through vs. Adversity in Honduras. 2) Weston, Antonee and maybe Dest not even available for selection vs. Panama—it’s like people completely have forgotten that 3) Arena got absolutely killed by everyone for lack of squad rotation in the last cycle. 3)The three points in Costa Rica were more important and we thus had some key guys fresh for this game due to squad rotation. 4) The Euro based players who did play vs Panama looked every bit as mediocre as the MLS guys. Go back and watch Weah and Musah in that game. So many chances to progress the ball and they didn’t do it…just like Lletget and Acosta. The history of US in WC qualifying suggests it’s gonna be a slog no matter what. We are in second behind only Mexico, which is about where we should be. Give GGG a little credit….

      • @Tele I really like you take in general and criticism of what happened in game v Panama. I was looking for Hoppe as well. Does this mean GB should be fired? I don’t think so.

    • @Shaun Agree 100000% @Simon you mean those players that played an entire tournament versus CONCACAF competition and came away with championship? What kind of coach would think those same players could beat another CONCACAF team? Oh I’m guessing that same coach who coached the tournament they won. It’s not like those players were in over their heads. THEY underperformed. In the past they had already shown they could rise to that level of competition. Mix in fanboy faves Weah, Musah and Pepi and there’s no reason to think they shouldn’t have won. The team simply laid an egg. All the anti-fans wanting to blame everything on GB are making fools of themselves at this point. The rotation was aggressive and probably saved tonight’s game by the looks of the heavy legs on the US players in the second half. I do not envy coaches having to deal with 3 game windows. I swear every coach is under fire from their fanbase. Tata – being heavily criticized, Herdman- doesn’t know what he’s doing apparently (similar to GB. Should be replaced by a Euro or SA coach), Honduras will probably fire their coach after tonight…the list goes on. This 3 game window crap takes a toll on teams no matter who the coach is.

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      • I am not GGG basher and I don’t think his starting lineup against Panama was bad considering the roster available (different debate). Those players were either going to play in Panama or against CR and 3 points at home is more important than 1 on the road. However, I do think his in game decisions and subs weren’t very good. They were 0-0 at halftime which I think is exactly where he wanted to be. He wanted Musah, Adams, Aaronson, and Arriola to only play 45 minutes so I think he was set with those subs before the game, but I think he should have taken Lletget off at half. He was truly having a terrible game and was killing their attack. They were playing to defend and counter but Lletget slowed it down every time he got it; he wasn’t playing within the scheme. He in essence was probably the best defender for Panama that game in that he killed almost every attack. That is why we all think Adams is great except he does it to the other team, not his own. Roldan at wing was probably a pretty poor decision and with no attack at all why not put the cowboy in that made something out of nothing continuously in the Gold Cup in Hoppe? I think his game day decisions weren’t that great but I do admit his coaching resume is much better than mine :). People want to compare other teams that aren’t rotating players and say the US shouldn’t either but they forget that Adams and Musah just returned from injury. I bet Panama ran out of gas against Canada but the home game against US was way more important to them than the road game against Canada and they probably don’t have the luxury of rotating players.

    • Agree Shawn. CONCAFAF WCQ has gotten harder over the years, and it is once again a grind. MLS is the catalyst, as it has opened up opportunities for talent in Central America and Caribbean, and that has lead to improvement of those national team pools. In a recent WCQ cycle, a younger Costa Rica beat the US at home. So many of us were thrilled when the US recruited Klinsmann to the helm, who then recruited Bundesliga talent (Brooks, Jones, Chandler, Johnson) to the US team, and WCQ was still not easy.
      I think it was the maturation of MLS over 25 years, with expansion, the academy programs and development in lower leagues, that really opened the door for players to develop outside the NCAA and be able to get recruited to cross the pond. The US in the past would not have been able to put together two competitive rosters this summer for NL and GC without this growth.

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    • Qualifying for 2006 WC I saw all the games they were always in first place and only struggled occasionally against Mex when they lost in Aztecs and J Mother to scored twice to win game.

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    • Agree that qualifying is difficult, but it’s difficult for all teams, always. The smaller teams are getting better, yes. But should we not expect our team to also improve? Should we not expect it to get easier as we work towards becoming a more dominant soccer nation? I mean, that is the stated goal of every coach that has been hired. So, in my view, people are just judging them by their words. It’s never easy, but when we lose to any Concacaf opponent, the coach and players should be critized. People go way overboard with it, I agree. But no coach comes in and says “Well, we are just going to do our best, and what happens happens.”

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      • I believe the region is catching up to us in professionalism, skill, tactics. I believe part of that is MLS. I also recall he was hired to elevate us back above the region and if anything we’re stuck back fending off the pack catching up.

        I also think “but qualifying is rough” is a broad brush. Bradley averaged 2 ppg — literally the equivalent of actually winning at home (3) + tying away (1) = 4/2 = 2 ppg. Over 10 games this is 20 points. Berhalter before this game was projecting at 16 points and even now is at 18 points. He is basically catching up to his predecessors — Klinsi and Arena averaged 18 or so — but including the rough patches that got them fired.

        Sorry, we have 1st place talent sitting in a more precarious 2nd place, and a coach hiring about aspirational global goals has dwindled down to slightly too much drama if he can fend off the regional pack. This isn’t much progress.

        Last point, if this is the golden generation why is Canada with 2-3 emerging stars and a handful of decent players right on our heels in the table?? That and the fact Mexico is 3 points ahead despite being a mess speaks to this not being inherently hard as you suggest, or that he’s tapped into the talent now, when Canada does more with less. Bull.

  17. After the Panama game there were some comments regarding frustration with the performances of Musah & Weah. I’d responded that at this level 2 good players cannot makeup for the poor quality of the other players around them. I pointed to the positive performances against Jamaica, and theorized that if paired with other good players tonight they’d have positive impact on the game. Shocker, my hypothesis was proven accurate.
    I’m tired of Gregg trying to pound square pegs into round holes. He has to STOP the Fan-Boy attitude in selecting his rosters. Zardes, Roldan, Arriola and Lletget are B-Team roster caliber…or possibly 3rd string injury coverage for the A-Team. But they should NEVER be starting games for the A-Team.
    Moore & Bello are not even first starters for the B-Team at tthis point. ffor now our backs need to be Dest, Robinson, Scally, Cannon, Yedlin, & Vines. If he’s going to call in players who’ve had positive impacts /performaces in there appearances (Hoppe, De La Torre, Konrad) than for the love of god he needs to use them, and stop wasting opportunities to give them experience because he’s got a crush on Zardes/Roldan/Lletget/Arriola.

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    • It’s enough to make one recall the theory that USSF is encouraging the use of MLS players even when not qualified in order to promote the league.

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      • “It’s enough to make one recall the theory that USSF is encouraging the use of MLS players even when not qualified in order to promote the league.”

        This is so sad. Arriola would have started again tonight if not his groin strain just saved us.

    • Sorry but I think his bias is more general as opposed to specific. I feel like it’s more system driven — say, “pressing,” or “backs who get forward” — than league favoring. You don’t like Arriola etc. out there but I think Dest, Robinson, Brooks, and a few others get their own free pass. The commonality, to me, is he is less driven by getting performing talent on the field, and more by “type” ideas. If one follows through on the “types,” one may prefer Arriola up top but then Dest and Brooks in back. That’s a “league” wash but multiple picks in one direction in favor of “types” or “reputation.” The part that gets me upset is you figure out over time that some of the ones seen as “less of the type” are actually both good at their primary job and not (at all? that much?) worse at the “cute” trait he’s looking for. moore and cannon have assists going forward. we have other CBs besides Brooks with goals or assists. aaronson or weah will chase 90% as good and be much better at offense.

      I think the one area where MLS genuinely benefits is his “form” obsession, because it is easier for domestic players — at least the ones on a level for NT consideration — to secure playing time.

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      • IV the only category that MLS players have edge over the European players (for the most part) is their level of experience (number of games as a professional). And while experience can provide a player an advantage when all else is the same, the talent/skill level discrepancies between most of the MLS players and their Euro counterparts is so drastic that their “Experience” edge cannot over come it.
        Right now the only MLS players who should be in consideration are:
        M. Robinson – Proved himself during the Gold Cup (B/C-Team) and has continued to perform well.
        Turner – Most in-form keeper. Until Steffen or Horvath start seeing consistent minutes again he should be the starter.
        Pepi – A starter right now because he’s shown he can finish chances. But he has to continue this or be replaced by the Euro options.
        K. Acosta – more a lack of other options to back-up Adams…but I’m still not sold on him. I’d like to see Flack, Sands, and others tried because we need to force Acosta to become more consistent.
        Williamson – Has shown sparks of ability, and wouldn’t be opposed to his inclusion in camps.
        Zimmerman – Has stepped up and proven that he can challenge for inclusion in the CB pool (at least against CONCACAF opponents). But not sold on him being a starter.
        Scally, Green, Konrad, Luca, Hoppe, & Richards need more time on-the field and in camps. No more Ream, Roldan, Arriola, & Zardes…their Done. Yueill, Bello, and some of the other young MLS players are worth looking at again in the future, but they have proven they are not ready right now.

  18. I thought that Musah had moments when he seemed to lose attention and gave the ball up too easily, but he was much better in that regard than on Sunday. Richards fell asleep on what was an under-weighted pass from M. Robinson that miscue no matter which player was at fault was recovered from nicely by M. Robinson who stopped a 1 v keeper from happening. On the goal, why was A. Robinson marking the guy that Richards should have had and leaving the wide attacker tons of free space to tee up the cross. Aaronson was a pain in Costa Rica’s midfield and back line. Weah proved he is quick and can strike a ball well, a little more pressure from him would be nice though. Adams was his usual self and cleaned up a lot of would be counters by Costa Rica before they became real threats.

    Perhaps couple of our players suffer from ADD and have moments where they seem to lose focus (Primarily Musah and Richards). My wife tells me there are therapies to help address that; she is convinced that ADD is more common than you would think among professional soccer players and blames ADD for players failing to mark well.

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    • Just my opinion….
      Young players in a Team sport often have laps in judgement, or can get caught ball watching/dreaming. As players progress as professionals they tend to become more focused as they gain experience. Those who don’t learn to focus start tumbling down Club & Country depth charts…example Yedlin often loses his mark on the back post…hence his dropping out of the Prem. and having to fight for a spot in Turkey.
      Musah (18), Richards (21), Pepi (18), Konrad (20), Weah (21), Reyna (19), Busio (19), Scally (18), Dest (20), Aaronson (21), Hoppe (20) are all in the very beginning of their professional careers. They’re going to have their ups & downs…and may have laps of judgement at times. But I’d rather roll the dice with them than players who’ve reached their prime, but lack in ability.
      The issue is more noticeable among the US team & players because we don’t have many (any) top quality players in their Prime (25-28) to help guide these young players, most joined professional ranks later in life than their European counterparts, and we have a coach who is as “Scatter Brained” as some of the players seem to be.

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  19. Important win and a solid performance but this was still a disappointing window. Gregg’s poor choices against Panama are really only highlighted by this match.

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  20. Fortunately the Soccer Gods conspired to overrule Berhalter and take Arriola off the field ten minutes before kickoff in favor of Weah, who can and did actually score a goal.
    Rock on Gregg. You’re really inspiring confidence the way you seem to grasp who your quality is.

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    • You know, I watched the pregame… and my thoughts were… oh, god, Arriola!. Then I fast forwarded and Weah was starting, and I paused the recording (I’m in EU now) went out back and slaughtered 7 hefers as an offering to the soccer gods.

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  21. The early goal didn’t worry me that much because the way the US came out was so much better that I knew we would certainly get a tying goal and probably wear them down in the 2nd half. What bothered me more was several careless turnovers in the first 15 minutes or so. Another thing I felt concerned about was that the US kind of took their foot off the gas pedal around the 70th to 75th minute. I think CR was just hanging on and we could have and should have scored a 3rd to put the game away. Question–I tuned in kind of late during the pre-game and didn’t hear why Steffen was starting. Was any reason given? I think he should have stuck with Turner. Don’t know who was at fault in the CR goal, but I thought Steffen could have done a better job of heading the ball away.

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  22. This may have been the youngest WC qualifying USMNT line-up ever, but calling them inexperienced like the broadcast team was doing isn’t really true. The combined Champions League experience of this team is probably one of the highest ever for USMNT and with some of the top clubs in the world. That experience does carry over as far as composure in big games and knowing how to get a win. The “vets” available for selection really don’t compare in big game experience and or with the pressure that these big European club players have on them every game let alone for CL. Experience on the road in CONCACAF isn’t useless, but how many of those games do you need to experience before you get that the fields are bad, the refs may be worse and the crowds are insane. That’s a much quicker adjustment than adjusting to big game pressure. MLS really doesn’t provide as many opportunities for big games so it can take several years to get as much experience as a single season with a CL club. I hope Berhalter sees that after this performance and has more faith in the young guys. Experience doesn’t always coincide with age.

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    • Some people want to discount CL experience, but I agree with you. The only time MLS gets close to regular European league intensity is during playoff games. Nothing in MNLS or CONCACAF club championships come close to Champions League knock out round play. Eric Wynalda has told this story about his introduction to the intensity in Europe. Early in his time in the Bundesliga he missed a sitter. After the game he tried to make a joke about it and one of his teammates threw his boot at him and the spikes required Wynalda to get stitches. Wynalda got no sympathy from his teammates.

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      • Nothing in MLS comes close to the shittiest derby in Europe… much less a meaningful derby game, or a Champions league game, or any league game where teams have something at stake (top or bottom of the table). There is more intensity, and more money at stake, in some shitty Norwich – Stoke game in April than on an MLS playoff game. It’s just a different level for like 80-90% of the time. I will say, though, I did, for a bit, during that first window, give some credence to the whole, “maybe the MLS guys are better for road games.” Mmmmh, nope. I’ll take Brooks and McKinnie playing badly over Zardes and Lleget every day of the week and twice on Sunday. The stark difference between Panama and the other two games was impressive and enlightening. In 2 games, we looked like a team that knew how to play soccer. In the other, we looked like the US circa 1980 (ok, maybe a bit harsh, but only a bit)

    • Hahaha Dave, best post, you win!

      Miles Robinson, really making me nervous. Terrible 2 games in a row.
      Richards on other hand, solid tonight.

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  23. – With Canada thumping Panama at home, and Mexico likely getting a result later against El Salvador, we may see even more separation from the top 3 in the table, all of whom get automatic qualification. If it stays on track, we may see qualification for the top three earlier than thought.
    – We won’t see another 3 game window until the end of WCQ. It seems 3 games with the heavy travel in such a short window is exhausting for the players, and turns some games into a grind. But, it should result in much better options for roster selection and management.
    – A few debutante players (go ahead and name them) impressed and should get future call ups. What we saw in November was expanded depth in key positions.
    – What is the toughest game left in 2021 for the US? Mexico at home next month, or Canada away in December. Could be a tossup. We wouldn’t say this in past WCQs, but a point away at Canada is an acceptable result.

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      • Correct. Both 2022 windows (late Jan./early Feb & March) are three match windows. Only the next window in November is a two match window.

        The January/February window will be very interesting. We have home matches against El Salvador and Honduras with Canada away. The smart thing would be to schedule our matches in cold weather cities for two reasons. One, Canada would probably try to schedule our match there outdoors (maybe Edmonton or Toronto) as opposed to indoors in either Vancouver or Montreal. Should they schedule the matches indoors, they will be ceding and advantage. I was at that US-ES WCQ at Foxboro in the snow. They couldn’t deal with the cold.

    • Correction noted..the last two windows are 3 games..should’ve phrased that statement better. The whole scheduling of CONCAFAF WCQ is nonsensical. Why didn’t we play Canada last month at home instead of January? The games need to be played on grass. The US has locations for a January game outdoors. It is bad enough that the US has games in CA sandwiched between this Canada match, adding to travel exhaustion, but really unimpressed with CONCAFAF management.

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  24. I feel like I played the full 90 minutes after watching that game. I thought Musah was very good. US is in very good position right now, but they got there there the hard way. I don’t see any games being cakewalks the rest of the way out.

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