Your Weekly USMNT Update — July 2, 2019
So do you want the good news or bad news first? Ok, good news: the USMNT is through to the semifinals of the Gold Cup (1-0 win vs. Curacao), where they are set to take on Jamaica for a possible final matchup vs. Mexico. Now the sobering reality: the United States looked outplayed for much of the second half vs. Curaçao, an island state in the Caribbean about the size of Philadelphia.
A couple of points from both games this week:
USMNT - Panama (1-0)
With a completely changed lineup (Berhalter started 11 new players including Sean Johnson between the sticks), we are taking the “half glass full” view. Considering this was the first time that many of these players were on the field at the same time in a competitive match, the USMNT dominated possession and largely looked comfortable with the ball at their feet.
Which brings us to the second point: in Berhalter’s 10th game at the helm, he once again stayed true to his possession oriented tactical system that sees the USMNT slowly build-up play through the center backs and midfield triangle.
While the team looked comfortable in possession, similar to the games ahead of the Gold Cup vs. Venezuela and Jamaica, the second outfit was missing creativity in the final third and did not show a distinct drive to goal with the exception of Reggie Cannon at right back.
To that end, the midfield trio between Mihailovic, Trapp, and Roldan looked to be the main weak spot, with little creativity in the final third. However, Mihailovic did add a certain spark from dead balls.
In the end, we don’t want to overanalyze this game: it was a second string USMNT side vs. a second string Panama side (they switched out nine players).
USMNT - Curaçao (1-0)
For much of the second half, Curaçao was simply the better team - they had more possession and could have scored on numerous occasions. The United States is lucky to advance to the semifinals.
Is Berhalter a one trick pony? The most frustrating part about the game was that Berhalter once again stayed true to his possession game system, no matter where on the field. In fact, the USMNT tried numerous times to pass out of the back unsuccessfully under pressure between the center backs and Zack Steffen, categorically ignoring the option of sending the ball long. Not surprisingly, Curacao (tactically set up better) capitalized on this by putting pressure on the back line and forcing turnovers early. If Berhalter’s system works well (see the Trinidad game for example), then that’s fine. But with all due respect to Curaçao and their pressing play, we need to be able to adapt tactically on the field if the game plan is not materializing. It is unacceptable for the USMNT to be this tactically inferior against an (on paper) lower quality opponent.
At OneGoal, we have been long standing supporters of the Berhalter regime as we truly believe that he is attempting to drive a transformation on and off the pitch with the USMNT, but at some point we have to raise some questions. Only one sub for the entire 90 minutes vs. Curacao? Resting the entire first XI vs. Panama, even though the team has hardly had any competitive matches together under their belt? Why was the team so tactically inflexible? We are hoping that this is just a speed bump in Berhalter’s tenure, but we would like to see a reaction against Jamaica.
A moment of brilliance from Pulisic and a clinical header for McKennie were enough to see the United States through to the next round. Those two, along with several other youngsters, leave us excited for the USMNT’s future.
Our possession game was far too passive as lack of movement up top and on the wing prevented any dangerous attacks from developing. Additionally, Michael Bradley looked ineffective as the ball distributor, slowing the play down when he should have sped it up, dwelling on the ball for far too long in the center, or missing routine long passes. The need for Tyler Adams is real.
As always, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what you think about our newsletter!
Star of the Week
Reggie Cannon (21, Chicago, IL) - FC Dallas, MLS
Best player vs. Panama: In the USMNT’s final Gold Cup group stage match vs. Panama where Berhalter gave many of his “B” team players a shot at proving themselves in a competitive match, Reggie Cannon was among the very best USMNT players and capitalized on this opportunity. Slotted in at right back, Cannon was a real force in possession, moving up and down the wing and creating real trouble for the Panama back in line. In fact, whenever the USMNT looked dangerous in attack in the first half, Reggie Cannon seemed to be involved. For a player who was originally left off the Gold Cup Roster (in favor of USMNT star Tyler Adams), Cannon looked surprisingly comfortable in Berhalter’s system, combining beautifully with Jordan Morris on numerous occasions. Most importantly, he was difficult to read for the opponents, proving incredibly versatile on the ball by cutting inside and finding a pass, taking on defenders all the way to the goal line and cutting the ball back, or whipping in early crosses. Big picture, while his final service wasn’t always on point, he showed a lot of promise on the right wing and jumpstarted many attacks such as this one with a through-ball to Roldan:
Defensively sound: At the same time, Cannon looked defensively sound as he impressed with his positional play as well as a healthy amount of aggression in tackles, a much needed trait for the USMNT as they begin to face tougher opponents outside of CONCACAF. Lastly, what stood out most to us was his ability to solve tricky situations in tight spaces with intelligent short passes out of his own half, not too dissimilar from skills shown by Ajax full back Sergino Dest during the U20 World Cup this summer. Admittedly, Cannon remains a bit raw as a player; however, if he gets more minutes with USMNT and becomes comfortable as part of the group, we think he could become a serious contender for one of the full back spots on the team.
Other Notable Performances
Matt Miazga (23, Clifton, NJ) - Chelsea FC, Premier League
Capitalized on Panama opportunity: The second player that clearly capitalized on the opportunity to start vs. Panama was Matt Miazga. Next to a significantly more shaky Omar Gonzalez, Miazga provided the US team with much needed composure in the back along with a physical presence that for most of the game overpowered the few Panamanian counter attacks coming the USMNT’s way. Equally as important, in the absence of John Brooks and Aaron Long, it was Miazga who took on the responsibility of organizing the USMNT back-line, letting others know when to step up or when to fall back, despite Omar Gonzalez captaining the team. Above all, after a stellar season on loan with Reading in the Championship, Miazga has matured as a player, having grown physically (in a very tough English league) and most importantly from a positional perspective; he was much more impressive than his center back partner for most of the game. Lastly, while Panama was admittedly not much of an attacking threat, Miazga showcased that he has the pace to defend fast counters - a vital trait for teams susceptible to counter attacks, such as the USMNT.
Passing out of back looked solid: Along with a defensively stable game for Miazga, he looked the most secure at building play out of the back by finding good outlet passes. This became especially apparent as Mizaga was able to find a very high standing Cannon with driven balls multiple times on the right hand side, without dwelling too long on the ball. All said, as we’ve said before, we don’t want to over evaluate this game against a second string Panama, but Miazga looks up for the challenge to compete for the second starting center back spot next to Brooks over the next few years.
Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA) - Chelsea FC, Premier League
Captain vs. Curacao: In his first competitive game as the team’s captain, Christian Pulisic remained a real bright spot primarily in the first half. In fact, right from the get go, Pulisic was the most active player on the ball, driving at players 1v1 and creating USMNT chances less than ten minutes into the game. With a bit more luck, he could have been on the score sheet early on - but Curacao’s keeper, Room, came up with a spectacular save from point blank range. Above all though, it was most apparent that Pulisic is ready to become the real leader of this team. He’s already the face of the USMNT, but he’s shown that he can put the team on his back - popping up in virtually every offensive position on the field, including on the wing, the center, or deep in the opponent's box.
Moment of brilliance delivers the goal: As such, it wasn’t surprising to see Pulisic create the only goal on the night after a moment of brilliance in the first half. Having received the ball on the left wing, Pulisic passed an opponent with ease after a nice move and struck a long cross to the back post where Weston McKennie nodded the ball home, giving the goalie no chance for a save. The link up between the two 20-year-old USMNT stars was by far the most exciting part of the game, and we always have to put their age in perspective. The future remains bright, we just need to give our young guys a chance.
Brian White (23, Flemington, NJ) - NY Red Bulls, MLS
For two months, the NY Red Bulls have been without star striker Bradley Wright Philips, but the team has still been able to score goals. One of the key players to step up in BWP’s absence has been second year player Brian White. White, who has experience playing for the U23 Red Bulls and Red Bulls II squad, now has five goals in 10 games this season. White stands at 5’10” and is a clinical finisher to the highest degree. He is a solid header of the ball and is a classic poacher, often being in the right place at the right time (most of White’s goals are converted from short range). White is known for flick ons, one touch short passes and somehow, some way finding a way to put the ball in the net. Against Philadelphia, White scored a skillful chip, sprinting in between two defenders as the keeper stormed in. Judging the bounce and flight of the ball carefully, White launched the ball from the top of the box, high over the heads of all three Philly players. This creativity gives him an edge and has enabled him to become a key player for the Red Bulls.
White’s chip goal:
Now with Wright-Phillips getting closer and closer to full fitness, head coach Chris Armas has a challenge to find the opportunity to get the best out of all his strikers, and even hinted that he might play with two strikers up top. With BWP skilled enough to slot into a more reserved/false-9 type role, he could link up well with White lining up the pitch from him. After this current cycle of USMNT games, White might even have an outside chance for a call up to a camp or roster if he continues his blistering hot form, particularly considering that the USMNT striker pool is somewhat thin.
Fun fact, White was a menace in his youth days, scoring 23 goals for the Duke Blue Devils and was named 2017 League MVP and Golden Boot winner for the PDL league on the NYRB U23 squad (21 goals in 25 games).
Here are some of his highlights as a young player:
Daniel Levya (16, Las Vegas, NV) - Seattle Sounders, MLS
This week’s Youth Spotlight goes to Daniel Levya, who started his first ever MLS game in the Seattle Sounders’ 1-0 win vs. Vancouver. Throughout the match, Levya was spraying passes to maintain Seattle possession and reset plays moving forward. He had excellent pass accuracy, on both short passes and long switches across the pitch. The youngster constantly got stuck into tackles and was key in breaking down any Whitecaps’ attacks in his own defensive half. Levya even found the net with a long range, looping chip, but the goal was unfortunately called back for a foul on the goalkeeper. His play style was reminiscent of Tyler Adams and it's exciting to see another hard working, tough tackling defensive midfielder getting a chance in MLS. With a substitute appearance in the away match against Montreal earlier in June, Daniel Levya became the third youngest player ever to play in MLS, only behind Alphonoso Davies and Freddy Adu.
Highlights from Levya’s first start in MLS:
OneGoal’s 2022 World Cup Roster as of Today
Note: After his strong performance vs. Panama, we are adding Reggie Cannon to our “On the Rise/In the Hunt” list. In addition to DeAndre Yedlin, Sergino Dest, Nick Lima, Antonee Robinson and Chris Gloster, we think Cannon can compete for a mainstay spot with the USMNT over time.
Zack Steffen (24, Coatesville, PA): Played 90 minutes in the USMNT’s 1-0 victory vs. Curacao (Gold Cup).
Ethan Horvath (24, Highlands Ranch, CO): Did not play this week - recovering from injury and Club Brugge remains in pre-season.
Bill Hamid (28, Annandale, VA): Played 90 minutes in DC United’s 1-1 tie vs. Toronto (MLS).
John Anthony Brooks (26, Chicago, IL): Did not play this week - recovering from injury and Wolfbsurg remains in pre-season.
DeAndre Yedlin (25, Seattle, WA): Did not play this week - recovering from injury and Newcastle remains in pre-season.
Antonee Robinson (21, White Plains, NY): Did not play this week - no game this week and not part of the Gold Cup roster.
Matt Miazga (23, Clifton, NJ): Played 90 minutes in the USMNT’s 1-0 victory vs. Panama (Gold Cup).
Cameron Carter-Vickers (21, Baton Rouge, LA): Did not play this week - no game this week and not part of the Gold Cup roster.
Sergino Dest (18, New York, NY): Did not play competitive soccer this week as Ajax remains in pre-season; not on Gold Cup roster.
Aaron Long (26, Oak Hills, CA): Played 90 minutes in the USMNT ‘s 1-0 victory vs. Curacao (Gold Cup).
Nick Lima (24, Castro Valley, CA): Played 90 minutes in the USMNT ‘s 1-0 victory vs. Curacao (Gold Cup).
Tyler Adams (20, Wappingers Falls, NY): Did not play this week - recovering from injury and RB Leipzig remains in pre-season.
Weston McKennie (20, Little Elm, TX): Played 90 minutes in the USMNT ‘s 1-0 victory vs. Curacao (Gold Cup).
Wil Trapp (26, Columbus, OH): Played 90 minutes in the USMNT’s 1-0 victory vs. Panama (Gold Cup).
Duane Holmes (24, Columbus, GA): Did not play this week - recovering from injury and Derby County remains in pre-season.
Paxton Pomykal (19, Lewisville, TX): Played 90 minutes in FC Dallas’ 2-2 tie vs. Vancouver and played 90 minutes in a 0-1 loss to Portland (MLS).
Djordje Mihailovic (20, Lemont, IL): Played 90 minutes in the USMNT’s 1-0 victory vs. Panama (Gold Cup).
Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA): Played 90 minutes in a 1-0 victory vs. Curacao and played 25 minutes vs. Panama (Gold Cup).
Paul Arriola (24, Chula Vista, CA): Played 90 minutes in a 1-0 victory vs. Curacao (Gold Cup).
Tyler Boyd (24, Santa Ynez, CA): Played 20 minutes in a 1-0 victory vs. Panama and played 63 minutes vs. Curacao (Gold Cup).
Jonathan Amon (20, Summerville, SC): Did not play competitive soccer this week - no game this week and not part of the Gold Cup roster.
Timothy Weah (19, New York, NY): Did not play competitive soccer this week - no game this week and not part of the Gold Cup roster.
Josh Sargent (19, O’Fallon, MO): Did not play competitive soccer this week - no game this week and not part of the Gold Cup roster.
On the Rise / In the Hunt
Kellyn Acosta (23, Plano, TX), Midfield, Colorado Rapids
Corey Baird (23, Escondido, CA), Forward, Real Salt Lake
George Bello (17, Douglasville, GA), Defense, Atlanta United
Reggie Cannon (21, Chicago, IL), Defense, FC Dallas
Jeremy Ebobisse (22, Bethesda, MD), Forward, Portland Timbers
Romain Gall (24, Herndon, VA), Midfield, Malmo FF
Chris Gloster (18, Montclair, NJ), Defense, Hannover 96
Richy Ledezma (18, Phoenix, AZ), Midfield, PSV Eindhoven
Jonathan Lewis (21, Plantation, FL), Forward, Colorado Rapids
Andrija Novakovich (22, Muskego, WI), Fortuna Sittard
Erik Palmer-Brown (22, Napoleon, OH), Defense, NAC Breda
Paxton Pomykal (19, Lewisville, TX), Midfield, FC Dallas
Chris Richards (19, Hoover, AL), Defense, Bayern Munich
Sebastian Soto (18, Los Angeles, CA), Forward, Hannover 96
Haji Wright (21, Los Angeles, CA), Forward, Schalke 04
Walker Zimmerman (26, Lawrenceville, GA), Defense, LAFC
News / Transfers
Timothy Weah is officially transferring to French-side Lille, for a little over $10 million. At Lille, Weah will have the chance to compete for a starting spot and play Champions League football.
USMNT Gold Cup matches this week:
USMNT vs. Jamaica (Semifinal; Wednesday, 9 PM EST)
John Anthony Brooks (Ligament strain; missing Gold Cup)
George Bello (Adductor injury; expected to miss another 1-2 months)
DeAndre Yedlin (Groin surgery; missing Gold Cup)
Duane Holmes (Thigh injury; missing Gold Cup)
Tyler Adams (Groin injury; missing Gold Cup, 6-8 weeks)
Ethan Horvath (Hand injury; missing Gold Cup)
In Case You Missed It
Our Contributor’s Corner recently featured an article on how Ricardo Pepi’s new MLS contract is more than just a contract - it’s a shift in thinking for many MLS teams who are increasingly focused on developing youth players. Check it out here!
Check out Jozy Altidore’s bicycle kick goal vs. Panama: