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Richards, Reyna headline USMNT’s winners from Nations League window

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The U.S. men’s national team claimed the first of two potential trophies this summer after lifting the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League trophy on Sunday night.

B.J. Callaghan’s squad blanked both Mexico 3-0 and Canada 2-0 over the past four days, repeating as Nations League winners under the interim head coach’s guidance. While the USMNT delivered a total team effort in both matches, several players excelled and will head into summer breaks on a positive note.

Chris Richards, Gio Reyna, and Christian Pulisic headlined the top performers for the Americans this June, while several others also boosted their stocks going forward.

Here is a closer look at the top performers from the USMNT squad during the Nations League Final Four:


Winners


Chris Richards


The U.S. men’s national team registered two clean sheets during the Nations League Final Four schedule and Chris Richards was a key reason for it.

Richards started against both Mexico and Canada, excelling alongside Miles Robinson against El Tri and Walker Zimmerman against the Canadians. The 23-year-old scored his first senior international goal against Canada, before helping shutdown Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies for 90+ minutes.

After making just 10 combined appearances for Crystal Palace in his debut Premier League season, Richards will head into the summer on a major high note before preseason camp.


Gio Reyna


The USMNT might have just found its set piece specialist going forward.

Gio Reyna registered two assists in 120 minutes of action, earning Man of the Match honors against Canada on Sunday night. The 20-year-old’s dangerous corner kick was headed home by Chris Richards for the USMNT’s opening goal before he also set up Folarin Balogun for his first senior goal.

Reyna showed his creativity in possession while also delivering a strong defensive work rate on the other end of the field. He won 11 of his 18 combined duels in both matches, while also drawing five fouls and completing three dribbles.

A calf injury led to Reyna’s early exit against Canada, but overall, it was a strong end to his season for club and country.


Christian Pulisic


Christian Pulisic left it all on the field against Mexico and Canada, walking away with the Golden Ball award for the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League.

Pulisic scored twice in Thursday’s semifinal victory over Mexico before logging another important 90 minutes against Canada on Sunday. The 24-year-old won 11 of his 15 duels, created three chances, and registered seven shots in total.

Pulisic’s relentless running and willingness to track back and defend was also important in the USMNT registering two shutouts over its biggest rivals. It was a strong window from Pulisic heading into a crucial summer at club level with Chelsea.


Folarin Balogun


The Folarin Balogun-era has officially begun for the USMNT.

Balogun played 151 minutes over his first two international starts, scoring the second goal in Sunday’s 2-0 triumph over Canada. The Arsenal product delivered a true striker’s finish after spinning off Scott Kennedy’s shoulder before unleashing a powerful effort past veteran shot-stopper Milan Borjan.

Balogun drew four fouls in total over his two appearances, including one that led to Cesar Montes’ ejection on Thursday. His strength and skills were on display in the final third and he easily could’ve walked away with another goal or two under his belt.

Balogun delivered a positive debut ahead of a long-term future with the program.


Yunus Musah


Yunus Musah endured a tough club campaign with Valencia this past season but looked to be back enjoying himself with the USMNT.

Musah started and logged 90 minutes apiece in both matches against Mexico and Canada, covering plenty of ground on both occasions. The 20-year-old won 17 of his 21 duels from his midfield role, while also leading all players against Canada in fouls drawn (4) and tackles completed (3).

He helped silence both Mexico and Canada’s playmaking midfielders while also providing a shield in front of the USMNT’s backline. Musah’s positive window will surely do wonders for his confidence heading into an undetermined future at club level.


Who on this list impressed you the most against Canada and/or Mexico? Who do you think deserves to be on this list that wasn’t on it? How impressed were you by the USMNT during the Nations League Final Four?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. How can i cancel my subscription?

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  2. By October, Reyna was on scoring streak of goals. Umm he had one goal on the season by the end of October and added one more before the World Cup. If you consider 2 g over 5 matches a hot streak ok. Whether Gio felt he was full strength or not is irrelevant. Of course he was ticked he’d put in the work to get back playing. However, Berhalter couldn’t risk starting him and losing him 30 minutes in, as he had two months earlier. He was going to manage his minutes and hope to have at the end. The Reyna family didn’t except that.

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    • JR, I don’t think you are going to change anyone’s opinions but if you want to keep debating, I will give you a little more fuel. Weah, McKennie, Dest, Musah, and Reyna were all coming back from injury and none were 90 minutes fit. He had to use 3 of his 5 subs on Weah, McKennie, and Dest every game because they were only about 60 minutes fit. He kept Musah on in most games because Musah at 70 percent and gassed was better than any options he had including players he didn’t bring to Qatar. Reyna was 45 minutes fit as evidenced by the fact that he was gassed at the end of the Holland game after only playing the 2nd half. Reyna is also primarily an attacking player. He was used at the WC exactly the way Dortmund used him for several months after the WC where there were concerns about health with the exception of Wales game where he was being punished for poor behavior. If you need an offensive sub and a goal he was brought in. US didn’t need a goal against Iran, they needed to prevent a goal which they did. It is much easier to prevent a team from scoring than to score and statistically there is a much better chance of winning if you protect a 1-0 lead than try to score a 2nd goal. In Nashville during qualifying, Gregg did not do this and he left Yedlin one on one with Davies, who is significantly faster and as a result, the US ended up tying. He learned his lesson and didn’t do the same thing against Iran. You aren’t going to change people’s minds that criticize Gregg for tactics that worked. None of the 48 coaches at the WC would have started Reyna against Holland knowing he only had 45 minutes in him and having 4 other players that can only go for about 60 minutes. Reyna was good against Holland but not spectacular. Holland is much better than the versions of Mexico and Canada the US just played. Callahan is lauded for defending the lead against Canada but Gregg is criticized for doing th same thing against Iran. Scalley is praised for stopping Davies and Gregg is criticized for not playing Scalley in the WC. Scalley only played against Canada because Dest was hurt. None of the four goals scored against the US at the WC were the fault if wingbacks. Scalley did great against Canada but Callahan gave him a lot of help which was a great tactical decision. Canada has so few players that can beat you, why give Davies the opportunity. He also decided Aaronson would be better at that any of his other options. He didn’t look good but he did the job and limited the number of times Daviea got isolated on Scalley whi is also much slower than Davies.

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  3. since there is some revisionist history going on, “hudson” was very berhalter, it was brutal, and we may have orchestrated his exit. the virtue of “callaghan” was that he was berhalter assistant on paper enough to be handed the job, but then took this in a different direction — which then complicates GB’s ability to return with business as usual.

    sorry but if callaghan was hudson was berhalter then a team that struggled to beat ES 1-0 under hudson — who was supposed to coach the summer — has to try to grind out 2 more against good teams playing a style more like GB era. the differences are everything because the personnel changes were subtle.

    balogun’s inclusion will be hudson’s legacy item. otherwise the callaghan team benefitted from calling richards and playing scally in a meaningful game, which hudson couldn’t be bothered. i also think callaghan came up with a more clear role for reyna. in the group games reyna looked lost.

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    • Watch the first 20 minutes again. It was Berhalter Ball, right down to the formation. Canada had the 2 CFs pinching in to prevent passes to Musah everyone else was in a midblock. Reyna was central left and slightly higher than Aaronson who was in Musah’s usual location with Musah in Tyler’s role. Both FBs were pushing up (even Scally although not as far as Dest). We were playing the ball to feet trying to disorganize the defense. After the goal the Canadians began pressing. Even on the second goal we first started playing out but with 6 Canadians within 30 yards of goal Turner just played long over them. Setting up a 4 on 4 CP, Balo, Weah, and Gio vs Kennedy, Miller, Osorio, and Johnson. Would Berhalter have endorsed that decision hard to say? His teams were always more pragmatic in tournaments. Without Miles, Dest, and Weston in the build out we were not nearly as skilled to build out against the speedy Canadians. Once we got the 2 goal lead there was little chance they’d make that up if we didn’t let their wings in behind and Jedi and Joe stayed deeper. Whether Weah as a WB was part of the plan going in or the logical choice once we were down to 2 FBs. The bunkering in the last 20 minutes was pretty reminiscent of the defending for our lives against Wales and Iran.
      ————————-
      Playing Gio as a CM/AM was the only real change and that was implemented under Hudson. Oddly enough Gio has gotten better each time out in that position. The biggest difference we had was actually finishing our chances early. Against England (Wes) and the Netherlands (CP) we had early chances that we didn’t convert. Bj did a great job of preparing the guys and implementing everything they wanted to do, we dictated both games, but the principles haven’t changed. Now please go ahead and disagree with everything I just said because it doesn’t fit your narrative. If do actually rewatch you’ll see exactly what I’m saying, but you won’t because you only care about your story not facts.

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      • The people who don’t rate GB will NEVER give him credit for anything positive hat happens within this team, it’s always the players got the results or the assistants strayed from GB’s ethos thus the great result, when it’s clear to the unbiased that Berhalter’s fingers are all over this team even in his absence(Hudson and BJC were definitely leaning on GB during coaching search). I think Greg always planned to use Gio in the middle, but when you have a player who can’t stay healthy(he’s injured yet again) like him, the Richards’, Pulisics’, and Adams’ of the world you try and protect them by having them play in spots that limit the propensity for injuries(it was difficult to continue to do that with Tyler for obvious reasons). Dortmund never played Gio in the middle I’m guessing for those same reasons, and it was again clear they were limiting his minutes this season for the same reasons.

      • nonsense. we were not playing keepaway in the corner flags. it was not GB ball at all. i guess GB’s acolytes will now try to redefine his “systen” as something other than how he miserably had them playing offense. i see it will be things like “pressing” or the effort put into defense. except GB would have had the wingbacks 30 yards upfield being run past by davies. except offense is half the game and it was dramatically different.

        this was tons more vertical, dribbling, direct, and a lot more down the wings. when it briefly turned into sideways central passing late first half first game is the only time this looked ordinary.

        spin cycle in full effect i see. this has to be how he imagined it just never played.

      • re reyna, to remind you of actual facts, GB routinely stuck him out wide as a sub. hudson tried him interior — yes — but with so little seeming plan how to get him the ball and exploit his value that he would either drift back to the 6 slot to receive passes or seem lost where to go with the play. callaghan had obviously talked with him and changed things because he would just haul butt dribbling upfield in transition, taking people on. pretending this was some planned position change and iterative role shift is funny. they used him 3 DIFFERENT WAYS. it boils down to 1 of the 3 saw how to make him useful centrally while keeping the mids fairly deep in defense. 1 had him right place wrong instructions. 1 had him wide sipping water on the bench. guess which one just got hired.

        i giggle at the idea GB was hamstrung by GR’s injuries. by october GR was seeing minutes and scoring a streak of goals. it is blatant revisionist history to suggest he was hurt or weak. if he was a risk he probably would have accepted his fate and been either cut or a pro forma roster inclusion unintended to play. he was included because he was healthy. he was one of the few players who made holland watchable. he was then super effective this summer.

        that suggests GB simply made a mistake. you lot seem to believe club form is everything and that somehow a kid can suck in november and star in june. the world does not really work that way, and since he was scoring bookends of the tournament, i don’t even think your club form analysis is accurate. y’all can’t make up your mind whether club form is about reputation, or starting, or producing, which can be 3 very different things. GR was always producing. it’s other people’s problem how he’s used, what his rep is, or if he is started. all he can control is what he just did. it’s up to the coaches here and dortmund to see it.

        and to be blunt about this, since i can see the GB fanboys spinning to meet summer reality, in september adams may very well be back. we then have 4 fairly decent mids and 3 slots. does GB find a way to get reyna on the field? or does he sit behind the world cup starters central/ weah wide. ie have we actually moved an inch when adams is back healthy.

        rubber will hit the road in september and beyond unless someone is out. fanboys have forgotten that bit of reality here, that mckennie’s red and adams’ injury made this very easy on callaghan. he kind of had to do “something.”

      • ronnie: fingers are all over the team? of the guys on this list, he sandbagged reyna and richards early in the cycle. took forever to include them in the team. richards finally makes it to starter and gets hurt. GB form acolyte hudson then leaves him off in march, that’s how integral he was. reyna took a while to get called, summer 21, stars then, injury issues, benched by fall 22. but he was a healthy bench at qatar leading to the whole rigamarolle. now apparently you’re gonna act like he was a GB discovery — when he was sandbagged 10 different ways in reality. at his peak for GB he was playing when weah was out.

        GB didn’t get balogun done, that’s amusing.

        GB cut scally, that’s amusing. scally was the one saying this was overcomplicated. since scally was forced even upon callaghan by card issues, and simply took advantage of his moment, it’s unclear what the regime had actually seen as his long term role. i think he should start. i think they will see him as the 3rd choice wingback stepping into yedlin’s shoes. is that the sort of boosterism you’re suggesting he gave him? cut then not sure what to do with another emerging star? hence my sandbag comments.

        GB’s pattern over the years is to have the lineup worked out way ahead of things and fight like heck reality trying to push different players on him. zardes, yeuill, steffen, bradley, jozy, etc. etc. he likes veterans. he has an ideas in his head where this should go. he is an ideologue who IMO fights the turner/ richards/ scally/ miles/ reyna talent infusion screaming for his use. because they weren’t the plan.

        to be fair, some of them plus balogun will get initially involved. because his tendencies manifest over time. look at pefok. he was a fad. then he went away. you have to watch how GB acts over time. steffen, ream, roldan, arriola, etc. there is a list that work their way back.

        to reiterate, my point was people were so excited in the same way in summer 21 and then GB had it undone by september when we went back to default grinder mode. so how much of this sticks. and how much does he tinker with because it can’t be callaghan’s tactics, it has to be his team.

        tune in this fall.

      • JR,

        “If do actually rewatch you’ll see exactly what I’m saying, but you won’t because you only care about your story not facts.”

        Here’s my very strong opinion.

        The two games, Canada and Mexico represent the best examples of assured, attractive, attacking soccer , in a tournament and therefore a competitive setting, that I have seen from the USMNT since maybe the 2009 Confederations Cup.

        Mexico sucked but Canada were not totally awful.

        Facts?

        We’ll never know if this happens had Gregg still been the manager.

        The players, since the World Cup, had and have extra incentive. Like needing to eat.
        Most of these guys were in a shop window and knew it.

        Pulisic is being run out of town and needs a job
        Reyna, same thing
        Brenden and Weston, same thing.
        Weah , same thing.
        Pepi, same thing
        Musah, Valencia flirted with relegation and Yunus would be wise to move.
        Richards could stand to move.
        Dest , same thing .
        Scally, Mr. Simplify didn’t play a minute in Qatar and needs to back up his big mouth.

        That’s most of them that really, really needed to show well.

        We know that BJ did a hell of job. He, in fact, kept it simple, Got his starters lineups right, got his subs right. Made smart tactical moves at the end of the game, like ceding possession to Canada. Dressed in Dad clothes.

        Will the GC roster have the same hair on fire incentive the Euro boys had? I dunno..We also know that if BJ goes on to lift the Gold Cup he will have two trophies and therefore will have matched Gregg’s production.

        That’s a fact.
        They better keep him around, if only to keep Gregg’s feet to the fire.
        That’s an opinion.

        My narrative with Gregg is simple. I don’t trust him. There’s so much of this “I can’t help myself” about him.

        He was hired under sleazy, false pretenses, stumbled through three years of cupcake crap opposition , qualified with an expanded tournament that was even easier to qualify from than it normally was. and then had a very good World Cup.

        The very good World Cup performance? That’s a fact. But is that the outlier? Like I said, I don’t trust him, because he is his own worst enemy.

        I don’t believe it is possible to assign percentages of credit when a team does well. Especially for those of us who were not there. All of them from Gregg, to Shaq, to Roldan, to Pulisic etc., were a part of that performance and they all deserve credit.

        But my opinion?

        My opinion is there are any number of other managers who could have done as well. He lucked out and did just enough to avoid stepping on his own dick, just barely. That said, his “vision” of a “Club USMNT” is a good one. I just thought that he was the wrong guy to implement it.

        My objective reason for not wanting him back was that it’s a lot to ask for anyone to be that lucky two times in a row.

        And my opinion is that the USSF agrees with me.

        Gooch Onyewu in an interview said it was his job to to make sure that Gregg has all the assistance he needs.
        ??
        Can you spell short leash? When Josh had to drop out due to covid regs before the Wales game back in 21, I think, Gregg flew Lletget all the way over from SoCal to show everyone how to play the Fake 9. He did this even though he had a healthy Gio and a healthy Gioachinni in camp. And of course, Seba played like he had a cement jock strap on.

        Maybe if Gregg had a “minder” like Gooch around, this kind of foolishness doesn’t happen? Even if Gooch is not hovering around like a Danielle, I can’t imagine Gregg hasn’t been affected by all the turbulence.

        But in the end, he may be the best manager for this team.

        Most of the regulars, even Flo, have got a LOT to prove.
        And so does Gregg.

        I don’t expect Gio and Gregg to like each other but it doesn’t matter,
        Right now they both need each other.

        This can make for a good combination.

      • IV: the FBs were pushed up, we were high pressing, Weah was pushing to the end line and whipping in crosses. All those things were happening the first 20 minutes. Remember Kobe cooked Jedi and later Davies blew past Scally but then dribbles it out of bounds with nothing but green grass in front. We we’re passing the ball around the back then playing up the lines. Then Canada started pressing and the US adjusted to playing over them instead of thru because we had Scally, Zim, and to a lesser extent Aaronson who aren’t as press resistant. Once we got the 2nd goal we got a little obsessed with the direct ball and started playing safe. You don’t have to like but that’s what happened.
        ————————-
        “Berhalter frequently put him out wide as sub” Delusional, absolute complete lies. Gio started his first 7 games for US. Then he came off the bench against CR after playing both NL games that week. He came off the bench in Mar ‘22 when on minutes restrictions because he had been injured and had only started one match for Dortmund. By the way the hamstring exploded for the second time a week after those qualifiers. Started both games in October, leaving after 30 minutes in match 2 because he reinjured his leg. That’s what lost him his starting spot at the WC his hamstring’s unreliability. Started 10 of 14 before WC. Started 8 of 9 before string of hamstring injuries. I don’t know if Berhalter would have moved him but his Dortmund managers play him a vast majority as a RW/LW but Hudson played him centrally in March against Grenada and El Salvador. If you watched Gio was in the exact spaces Wes and Yunus play under Berhalter. Sorry to hurt your feelings but the principles to start the game were exactly Berhalter. Praise to Callaghan for spotting Canada’s change and adjusting quickly instead of waiting until half, or the players for just adjusting on the fly on their own.

      • Vacqui: By facts, I mean we were aligned in a 4–3-3 formation, the CMs had the same roles for each spot, and we were playing out of the back and high pressing to start the game and leading to the first goal. Just as the first 2 goals against Mexico were pure Berhalter ball, playing out, draw the defense out of position with quick passing sequences, but IV was delusional about how those occurred too.

  4. Deeper and more quality than ever. The 4 mentioned make us better.. I think Berhalter and his staff deserve a lot of credit for helping select and develop this still very young group.

    But he is weird dude. Berhalter’s contract should include no mention of “states” ( USA might be a nice alternative) , no use of the word “process” and elimination of any terms that appear to make him appear to be trendy or a genius.

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    • Also in the contract please: No bounce passes. Limit two pairs of sneakers per cycle. No social messaging. No MLS wingers. No awkward touching.

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  5. Deeper and more quality than ever. The 4 mentioned make us better.. I think Berhalter and his staff deserve a lot of credit for helping select and develop this still very young group.

    But he is weird dude. Berhalter’s contract should include no mention of “states” ( USA might be a nice alternative) , no use of the word “process” and elimination of any terms that appear to make him appear to be trendy or a genius.

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  6. People are missing one major thing. Musah has put on a nice weight gain of Muscle 💪. Look at how he was in WC and now, he looks/is more stronger and a more physical presence against opposition.

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    • People forget Yunus is 20.

      You can argue he is still growing into his body. For example look at Reyna now and Reyna when he first came in.

      Speaking of which when he was first at Valencia he was often out on the wing. The coaching staff there did that because in their view playing in the center is more involved and they wanted to break him in gradually. After all he was just a kid. However, their projections always had him moving inside as they had him projected as a central midfielder. I always felt he would eventually take over for Tyler, even though they are stylistically different.

      Odds are Tyler will miss 2026 through injury.
      He’s missed 47 games since 2018-19 through injury.
      For comparison Gio has missed 45 games since 2019-20 through injury.

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  7. to me the worst case scenario was we stubbornly trot out the same faces in the same formation and play the same way. we didn’t win the world cup and we needed to act like it, try to improve. in that sense i am going to give them a pass on the degree of continuity that there was in roster list. they genuinely played some different folks, and it looked different for the most part. to me the enemies here are stubbornness and a malfunctioning scheme. we didn’t act complacent on either people or concept. 3/4 of the breakout players above were fairly either relatively new or deployed different. that’s progress.

    per usual i expect the Bs to play different. i think we have better wing options than 2021 which offsets that the MF looks as plodding as last time give or take djordje.

    the question after, as with 2021, is whether this — and particularly NL — even matters scheme-wise when they regroup in september. in fall 2021 i thought after an attacking NL and defensive GC they landed ineffectively in between for the qualifiers. so the question is how much of this is remembered and progressively built off in the fall, and that we’re not back to some 3rd way like we forget the whole summer when the trophies are in the case.

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    • I was thinking about critiquing the shortcomings of the U S, but why bother? We won the 2 games by an aggregate of 5-0 and it could have easily been 3-0 in the second game. Really, the important test will come next year in the Copa America where we will have world class opposition. Mexico is really down now and seemed very slow compared to us. Canada is about as fast as the US, but still is lacking some cohesion and has nowhere near the depth we do. So, until the Copa America, it’s hard to judge just where the US is in regard to top WC opposition like the top teams in South America and top European nations.

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      • why bother? because they looked bad under hudson, callaghan took this in a new direction, and we have some history of slapping together tactics for summers that aren’t followed into the fall. if they want similar results going forward the changes need to stick. we have some history of backsliding and a “new old” coach coming in who could be susceptible to saying, i know what callaghan just did, but i am coach now, and i know what’s good for you. so it comes down to how well shepherded he is when he meets the fed, and whether this does evolve in the direction we just saw.

        the schedule thing is a fanboy obsession. germany and ghana in september don’t suck. and be real, before now we weren’t playing well enough where playing anyone better than canada or mexico would even be fruitful. we need to worry about graduating high school with honors before theorizing our rigorous college class schedule.

        to me “wins” or only half the way to judge what’s going on. the other half is how do we look. my beef in recent years was it looked plodding, in addition to not upsetting good teams. to me if it looks good results will eventually follow. i thought the energy and creativity of the past week — as well as the defensive quality — was as important or more than the scoreboard results. we play that way every time and we’ll get most of the results we’re seeking, and there will be some value to a tough schedule other than woodchipping.

        to be clear about something, they need to pay attention for a change to how the tough opponents you want, show things about our team. if some specific players are exposed, you don’t sweep that under the rug, you fix it. we have to actually learn from the schedule for it to be of value. if, say, jedi shows he can hack it, but not dest, act accordingly. if the games are just treated as a test for a pre-determined team who will be the team next time and the next i don’t know how the games matter other than wins and losses in friendlies.

      • But it was nice to see them beat teams the way most of the fans think they should instead of what we saw during qualifying. And a lot more fun to watch …

  8. can we make it part of the contract that el jefe can’t wear that “States” tee shirt again? it’s like belushi running around with his “College” sweatshirt.

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    • i think scally should start but i think within the context of this management it probably provided him some berhalter-insulation over his remarks and placed him firmly in the first 3 over moore and cannon. it also pre-empted reynolds sneaking in from gold cup. personally i think wingback should be unsettled but the likely outcome here is the first 3 are off limits and there is one ticket left. and literally LB.

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      • If you want a more defensive RB, Scally could definitely hold his own as he showed last night, but Dest is more of the complete RB, and his attacking qualities are second to no one else in the pool from that position, and there is no other RB that can make that play he did versus Mexico on Pepi’s goal, or the screamer he had were he created his own space on a shimmy and roofed and placed the ball far corner(he’s done that a few time actually).

      • ronnie: dest cannot defend his position well for 90′. i am sorry but you have it backwards who is the complete player. being perhaps a tiny bit better attacker doesn’t make you more complete. it makes you better on 1 of 10 FIFA dials. scally to me is slightly worse at one then much better at the other which (a) averages out better and (b) in reality makes one more reliable in a game.

        sorry but dest has the skillset you bring off the bench down a goal or 0-0 75′ in to an elimination game. or throw on the front line.

        put differently, i thought holland was an object exercise in what teams would do if we tried to steadily throw almost 11 men up playing tiki taka, including wingbacks aggressively high up for crossing. teams will outlet it behind them on the counter.

        like i said, i see jedi as a pretty good defender who just often seemed to have been told to take dumb risks. i am more skeptical of dest’s ability to defend his position. he was trained up by ajax and barca to play a way. and to me, isolated plays aside, he just doesn’t respond like a defender should. and the thing is defender is a 90′ position. you play mostly well then get torched a handful times that may be ballgame right there. i prefer the conservative approach. scally can defend the position. he isn’t useless going forward. that’s your better answer, in the dolo-style approach. competent both ways i mean.

        as a defender i don’t get people basically wanting a flinching mid playing in back for an extra attacker that based on mexico and canada, we won’t regularly need and shouldn’t risk unless……like i said above, scoreless tie and not sure we win on PKs, down a goal and chasing the game. something that justifies the risk.

  9. Gio was the best player in both (Mexico & Canada) games for me, even if he was pulled at the half during the Canada game. I enjoyed watching his creativity by pulling the strings as a 10. I also liked Richards in the back. Richards was just solid. Last time the US won the Nations League, it was not easy; however, this time, the US pretty much dominated.

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    • I’d still say Pulisic was better in the first game but agree with the rest. Gio was so much better in CM than in March. You could see him getting more and more comfortable with each match. I’m sure having a full training camp ahead of the semis instead of a day or two then travel between Granada. He wasn’t Musah in defense but he hustled to his spot when we lost the ball and did his job. I also just kept thinking the same thing how different the two NL final four matches were from ‘21-‘23.

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      • “I also just kept thinking the same thing how different the two NL final four matches were from ‘21-‘23.”

        Two simple answers:

        1. No Gregg

        Hard to tell from outside but, good or bad BJ seems to approach a game very differently. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that playing under BJ is quite different from playing under Gregg. Maybe not better or worse but certainly different. We should ask the players who are unlikely to answer honestly.

        2. The players were significantly different. Most of our guys have gone through the World Cup and had a tough club half season since the end of Qatar. They are more mature pros now.

        The last NL was , in soccer terms, a long time ago.

        And now have Flo, who gives the team a focal point on offense that it did not have before. That makes a very big difference.

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