Your Weekly USMNT Update — March 26, 2019

The Berhalter era is off to a 3-0 start after the USMNT beat Ecuador 1-0 on Thursday night in Orlando. Above all, we thought the game was another stepping stone for the young team, and something for Berhalter to build on as the quality of opponents increases in upcoming matches. Next up, we face Chile tonight in Houston. But first, a couple of key points from Thursday’s game:

  • Possession play out of back solid: The biggest positive: the USMNT dominated possession, which originated in the back as Brooks and Long looked very comfortable passing out of pressure. Similarly, the midfield led by Trapp in a deep 6 and Pulisic as a 10, was able to build up nicely and get the ball to Morris, Arriola, and Zardes up top with frequency and accuracy.

  • Lacked inspiration in the final third: Unfortunately, when the ball got to our three attacking players, there was little inspiration or drive to goal as Morris, Zardes and (to a lesser extent) Arriola simply didn’t have the means to take on defenders 1v1 or slot in final deadly passes.

  • Weston McKennie injury overshadows everything: In the second half, McKennie was forced to leave the field after landing awkwardly on his ankle. The USMNT has since reported that the ankle is not broken, but that McKennie has suffered a ruptured ligament. It’s unknown how long McKennie will be unavailable at this point, but every game he misses is a big blow for Schalke in the Bundesliga relegation battle.

  • Zardes with a classic Zardes goal: To win the game, Gyasi got on the score sheet with arguably the most classic Zardes goal in history:

OneGoal’s Key “Winners” from Ecuador Match:

Wil Trapp: Trapp pulled the strings in midfield and thrived in a deep playmaker role by dishing out pinpoint accurate passes to the wingers and setting the pace for the game with several one touch passes. Also looked comfortable working against the ball.

Aaron Long: Strong tackling ability, composed, intelligent passes out of the the back, and solid positioning: Long made a strong argument as to why he should start alongside Brooks.

Tyler Adams: Despite playing in an unusual right back position, Adams remained a critical outlet going forward and impressed with usually strong composure in passing. He had the most touches out of any player (116) and was also strong defensively in 1v1 situations.

OneGoal’s Key “Losers” from Ecuador Match:

Tim Ream: While Ream looked solid in 1v1 situations on defense and got the assist to Zardes’ goal after winning the ball back, for the majority of the game, Ream looked uncomfortable in the left back role. He found himself out of position several times in transition, leaving too much space between him and Long/Brooks who needed to shift over to the right side to cover for Adams. Against stronger opponents, this could have been exploited.

Jordan Morris: Morris worked hard on the wing but often looked uninspiring as he was unable to find the final pass and link up with the midfield or Zardes up top. He did not always look secure when helping out on defense - a role that is critical for the right winger in Berhalter’s system if the right back Adams drifts into the center. In one those instance, Morris’s lack of defensive determination almost resulted in a point blank effort on goal by Ecuador.

A few key questions ahead of Chile:

  • Who plays at right back? Berhalter made it clear that he wants to try Yedlin on the wing during this camp. As such, we think Lima will replace Adams at right back, who has left the camp early to return to Germany.

  • Who takes McKennie’s role? Normally we’d say Adams fits well there. However, given Adam’s early return to Germany, we could see Lletget or Roldan as most likely to slot in next to Pulisic.

  • Center back duo? Miazga has almost single handedly stabilized Reading’s defense since arriving in the Winter. We think he’ll get a chance next to Brooks against Chile- maybe with Aaron Long getting a shot at the LB role instead of Ream.

STAR OF THE WEEK

Wil Trapp (26, Columbus, OH) - Columbus Crew, MLS

Our Star of the Week goes to Wil Trapp, who had a fantastic game against Ecuador in the 6 role for the USMNT.

Deep ball distribution on point: Trapp was the heartbeat of the USMNT passing game, as he led the charge in both long balls (picking out Arriola several times on the wing) and short passing. To the latter, Trapp exhibited an uncanny ability to keep the ball moving in tight areas and often linked up nicely with Pulisic or McKennie. The USMNT’s composure in building play out of the back was the biggest positive from the game in our view, and Trapp deserves a ton of credit for that.

Work against the ball: The biggest knock on Trapp has always been his lack of athleticism or work against the ball. However, he looked very strong against Ecuador, winning the ball back several times via interceptions or smart tackles. It is clear that Trapp will never be a classic ball winner as a holding midfielder, but when Trapp’s distributions skills are paired with Adams’ and McKennie’s tackling abilities, we think Trapp can take on a pivotal role in Berhalter’s system, even against competition at the highest international level.

OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

Aaron Long (26, Oak Hills, CA) - New York Red Bulls, MLS

It was a toss up between him and Miazga for the starting center back role next to Brooks, and Long made a strong statement as to why it should be him moving forward.

Composure in passing impressive: Composed at the back underpinned by strong tackling abilities and defensive positioning, Long also stood out with his passing out of the back to bring Trapp or Adams into play.

Positional awareness: With Berhalter’s shape-shifting formations, Long, along with Brooks, is required to cover some of the vacancy that Adams leaves when he pushes up to a CM position from RB. Long impressed here by using his pace to make up ground when Ecuador did capitalize on the space but covered open spaces well, pushing Ecuadorian wingers to the sidelines when they countered. He also had several successes 1v1, using his strength to shut down attacks before the ball could move central.

Tyler Adams (20, Wappingers Falls, NY) - RB Leipzig, Bundesliga

Tyler Adams was nominated by many as the man of the match. His intelligent positioning, tireless engine and composure on the ball were key to his top performance again.  

Hybrid Hero: When in possession, the NY native shifted into the midfield alongside Wil Trapp to help redistribute the ball and give McKennie and Pulisic more freedom moving forward. Defensively, the entire midfield and defense fell back into two lines of four players, with Adams nestling into the RB position, marking Ecuador’s pacy wingers. His calmness and defensive judgement while on the back foot broke up many plays on the right side.

Retaining the Ball through Passing: Adams helped the US dominate possession throughout the game with consistently accurate short passes. His ball play on the right hand side helped the team maintain a consistent pace and movement up the pitch, especially after the first 15 minutes. Check out his passing map below (Red - Key Pass, Yellow - Unsuccessful, Green - Successful):

Djordje Mihailovic (20, Lemont, IL) - Chicago Fire, MLS

In the U23’s 0-0 draw to the Netherlands on Sunday, Mihailovic showed that he’s got everything that the senior team is currently missing: a spark on offense and an ability to take shots out of virtually any position.

Creative head for the U23: Playing in a number 10 role with a license to join Sargent up front, Mihailovic took on the most creative role in the young US side. Thanks to his solid one-touch passing, vision, strong technical ability and intelligent runs in between the Dutch midfield and defenders, he made a clear impact on the game by getting the wingers and strikers involved plenty of times.
One-touch passing/shooting: As we’ve pointed out in our newsletter from a few weeks ago, Mihailovic is not afraid to take a quick strike at goal. He showed this again against the Netherlands with a dangerous shot from the edge of the box, only missing the top-right corner by inches. Lastly, his service from free kicks throughout the game was impressive- another recent weakness for the senior team. A Mihailovic corner almost led to a goal from Ebobisse in the second half.

MLS SPOTLIGHT

Walker Zimmerman (25, Lawrenceville, GA) - LAFC, MLS

Game-winning golazo: Our MLS Spotlight this week shines on LAFC’s Walker Zimmerman who capped off a solid defensive performance with a deflected knuckleball shot to win against RSL in stoppage time. Zimmerman has been key for LAFC’s successes this year - his defensive capabilities helped the team stay undefeated this year.

Defensively stable: On top of scoring the matchwinner, Zimmerman had a dominant defensive performance, winning seven aerial duels, stopping two take ons and blocking three shots inside his own box. Walker’s positioning and marking was on point as well, completely negating RSL striker Schmitt, who simply couldn’t produce anything during the game.

Not just this week: Overall this season, Zimmerman has averaged 2.5 interceptions, 1.3 tackles and 3.5 clearances per game. He has only conceded one foul in four games and his short passing skill has been key to LAFC’s tendency to play out the back and maintain possession. His impressive long and short passing ability makes him a nice fit into Berhalter’s possession oriented play style.

YOUTH SPOTLIGHT

Sebastian Soto (18, Los Angeles, CA) - Hannover 96, Bundesliga

This week’s Youth Spotlight goes to Sebastian Soto, who has recently been called up to train with Hannover 96’s senior team alongside fellow American, Chris Gloster. Soto, originally out of the Real Salt Lake academy, is a pacey, versatile and clinical striker. In 18 games for Hannovers U19, he has scored a staggering 12 goals and clinched 5 assists.

Check out a short highlight video below. By the way, Soto is part of the current U20 camp in Spain that just clinched a 2-2 draw against France and beat Japan 2-1.

OneGoal’s 2022 World Cup Roster as of Today

Goalkeepers:

Zack Steffen (24, Coatesville, PA): Did not play this week, recovering from injury.

Ethan Horvath (23, Highlands Ranch, CO): Did not play this week.

Alex Bono (24, Baldwinsville, NY): Did not play this week, no game for Toronto.

Defenders:

John Anthony Brooks (26, Chicago, IL): Played 90 minutes in the USA’s 1-0 win against Ecuador (Intl. Friendly).

DeAndre Yedlin (25, Seattle, WA): Played 22 minutes in the USA’s 1-0 win against Ecuador (Intl. Friendly).

Antonee Robinson (21, White Plains, NY): Featured for the U23 squad vs Egypt and Netherlands (Intl. Friendly).

Matt Miazga (23, Clifton, NJ): Did not play this week.

Cameron Carter-Vickers (21, LA): Featured for the U23 squad vs Egypt and the Netherlands (Intl. Friendly).

George Bello (17, Douglasville, GA): Bye week for Atlanta FC.

Aaron Long (26, Oak Hills, CA): Played 90 minutes in the USMNT’s 1-0 win vs. Ecuador (Intl. Friendly).

Walker Zimmerman (25, Lawrenceville, GA): 90 minutes and a game winner in LAFC’s 2-1 win vs. RSL (MLS).

Nick Lima (24, Castro Valley, CA): Did not play in the USMNT match (Intl. Friendly).

Midfield/Forward:

Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA): Played 62 minutes in the USA’s 1-0 win against Ecuador (Intl. Friendly).

Tyler Adams (20, Wappingers Falls, NY): Played 90 minutes in the USA’s 1-0 win against Ecuador (Intl. Friendly).

Weston McKennie (20, Little Elm, TX): Played 68 minutes (injury) in the USA’s 1-0 win against Ecuador (Intl. Friendly).

Wil Trapp (26, Columbus, OH): Played 59 minutes in the USA’s victory against Ecuador. (Intl. Friendly).

Duane Holmes (24, Columbus, GA): Derby County on did not play- international break.

Kellyn Acosta (23, Plano, TX): Played 90 minutes in Colorado’s 2-1 loss to FC Dallas. (MLS)

Djordje Mihailovic (20, Lemont, IL):  Featured for the U23 squad vs Egypt and Netherlands (Intl. Friendly).

Jonathan Amon (19 Summerville, SC): Featured for the U20 squad vs France (Intl. Friendly).

Josh Sargent (19, O’Fallon, MO):  Featured for the U23 squad vs Egypt and Netherlands (Intl. Friendly).

Timothy Weah (20, New York, NY): Featured for the U23 squad vs Egypt and Netherlands (Intl. Friendly).

Paul Arriola (24, Chula Vista, CA): Played 77 minutes in the USA’s 1-0 win against Ecuador (Intl. Friendly).

ON THE RISE/IN THE HUNT

  • Taylor Booth (17, Eden, UT), Midfield, Bayern Munich

  • Andrew Carleton (18, Powder Springs, GA), Midfield

  • Sean Davis (26, Long Branch, NJ), Midfield, NY Red Bulls

  • Jeremy Ebobisse (22, Bethesda, MD), Forward, Portland Timbers

  • Romain Gall (24, Herndon, VA), Midfield/Forward, Malmo FF

  • Jonathan Lewis (21, Plantation, FL), Midfield/Forward, NYCFC

  • Matt Polster (25, Milwaukee, WI), Defense/Midfield, Glasgow Rangers

  • Chris Richards (18, Hoover, AL), Defense, Bayern Munich

  • Haji Wright (20, Los Angeles, CA), Forward, Schalke 04

  • Corey Baird (23, Escondido, CA), Forward, Real Salt Lake

  • Sergino Dest (18, New York, NY), Defense, Ajax Amsterdam

NEWS/TRANSFERS

  • Weston McKennie suffers ankle injury in USMNT game vs. Ecuador. While nothing appears broken, he did suffer bone bruising and a ruptured ankle ligament. A timeline for return is still unknown.

  • After discussion with the coaching staff at RB Leipzig, Tyler Adams has left the USMNT camp early to return to Germany.

  • Timothy Tillman clinched a stellar assist in Nuernberg’s 5-1 victory in a friendly against the Czech side, FK Mladá Boleslav.  

All US results from this week:

USMNT vs. Ecuador 1-0

U23 USMNT vs. U23 Egypt 0-2

U23 USMNT vs. U23 Netherlands 0-0

U20 USMNT vs. U20 France  2-2

U20 USMNT vs. U20 Japan 2-1

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Check out our friends’ most recent Underdog Soccer Podcast on Soundcloud or Apple PodcastsSome solid analysis and interesting takes on our USMNT in there!

We should be proud of our new generation of goalkeepers with Steffen and Horvath as leaders. Our thoughts on why the streak of great American goalkeepers looks to continue.

NewsletterOneGoal.us -