Your Weekly USMNT Update — July 9, 2019
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After many ups and downs this tournament, the USMNT fell to Mexico in the Gold Cup final (0-1) on Sunday night, after a valiant fight from the Stars and Stripes. Sure, the quality on the ball, finishing abilities, and especially some of Berhalter’s personnel decisions during the game were far from perfect, but the team approached the game with passion, grit, and determination. It was a refreshing change of pace to see leaders including McKennie, Altidore, and Pulisic getting stuck into tackles and fighting for every single ball - already a demonstrable improvement from the disaster in Trinidad and Tabago less than two years ago.
We said this before the beginning of the Gold Cup, but we’ll say it again: a full USMNT transition will take time. The team showed what it is capable of against Jamaica and Trinidad, but also fell into old patterns in games vs. Curacao and Panama, for example. Nonetheless, a USMNT team without many key players (thinking of Adams, Brooks, Yedlin, Holmes, and Sargent) managed to create more clear-cut chances against a talented (albeit also not “A” team) Mexican side.
We aren’t trying to sugarcoat things. This Gold Cup didn’t show the USMNT at its best and a loss vs. Mexico is always particularly painful, but if Berhalter can finally integrate the younger generation including the likes of Josh Sargent, Timo Weah, Paxton Pomykal, Sebastian Soto, Chris Richards, Sergino Dest, and/or Cameron Carter-Vickers into a senior squad led by Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams - this group can grow into something special.
With all that said, a couple of points from both games this week:
USMNT - Jamaica (3-1)
The first 15 minutes of the game before the weather delay were hands down the best 15 minutes of USMNT play we’ve seen in a LONG time. Movement in the final third, sharp passing, decisive tackling, and dominant in possession, the USMNT came out on fire and showed what Berhalter’s system can be about when executed flawlessly.
While the USMNT looked a bit less dominant after the 1.5 hour weather delay, the grit and work against the ball was encouraging to see, even during periods where Jamaica looked more dangerous in possession.
This was Weston McKennie’s game. As usual, he was virtually everywhere on the pitch and stood out with determined tackles, and even added some flair to his game with several key passes in the final third.
The addition of Reggie Cannon, Matt Miazga, Jozy Altidore, and Jordan Morris to the starting XI not only showed Berhalter’s willingness to adjust personnel based on the opponent (finally), but it was also well deserved for all four.
USMNT - Mexico (0-1)
We have to address this first: with nine minutes left in the match and one substitution remaining, Berhalter brought on Lovitz for Ream at left back. Writing this one day after the game, we still can't think of a single reason why he would choose Lovitz over his attacking options including Tyler Boyd or Jonathan Lewis on the bench. We clearly don’t know all the ins and outs (who picked up knocks, etc), but with nine minutes left in a Gold Cup final, we would have liked to see him adjust his tactics and go all out to get the equalizer - something we did not see.
Aside from the disappointing or perhaps clear lack of in-game coaching after Mexico scored, we actually thought the USMNT looked set up well tactically. Though he tried to keep the ball when possible, Berhalter wasn’t naive enough to try and dominate all possession, but instead hit Mexico on the counter with direct balls into the run of Pulisic or into Altidore’s feet. This play almost worked on numerous occasions, most notably within the first 10 minutes when Pulisic had a 1v1 with Ochoa.
For much of the game, Pulisic played like a second striker, as he was trying to run at the two center backs directly. This gave the USMNT a pacey outlet up top and created several chances but also left much more work for McKennie in the center of the pitch.
The USMNT successfully overloaded the right wing in possession several items and made use of Cannon’s offensive abilities. Cannon has to be one of the biggest discoveries this tournament.
Aaron Long and Matt Miazga looked comfortable in the back for long stretches of the game.
We’ll say it again: the passion was there. Altidore, Pulisic, McKennie and Cannon specifically all looked ready for a real fight.
Star of the Week
Weston McKennie (20, Little Elm, TX) - Schalke 04, Bundesliga
Living up to his potential: Our Star of the Week goes to Weston McKennie, who truly lived up to his potential for the stars and stripes in the USMNT’s 3-1 victory vs. Jamaica. Not only was he responsible for the initial goal after a great combination play between Cannon and Altidore, McKennie was the architect of several dangerous passes in the final third, including the opening play ahead of the team’s second goal when McKennie found Jordan Morris in space. More than that, when the USMNT was in possession, McKennie was the clear link between the lines, as he was often an outlet for Michael Bradley and distributed the ball out wide to the wingers or Pulisic/Altidore higher up the field.
McKennie’s Goal vs. Jamaica:
True box to box domination: While much positive attention has been focused on McKennie’s play on the ball, we continue to believe that he is the team’s best player off the ball - making him our most capable box to box midfielder. As such, McKennie was once again all over the pitch, breaking up Jamaican plays as they emerged, getting stuck into tackles, and winning the ball back quickly for the USMNT. But perhaps his most undervalued quality: his driven runs into the box, aided by his physical presence and aerial dominance add an element of danger to his game that very few center-mids in the world have. Alongside both Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams, we believe Weston McKennie’s ceiling is extremely high and we are eager to see him take the next step at Schalke under U.S. American coach David Wagner this upcoming season.
Other Notable Performances
Aaron Long (26, Oak Hills, CA) - New York Red Bulls, MLS
One of the Best vs Mexico: Aaron Long had one of the best performances in the red, white, and blue against Mexico. He used his height, pace, and defensive awareness to completely shut down most of Mexico’s play through the middle and on the wings. Long limited Mexico’s best player this tournament, Raul Jimenez, from having any significant impact on the game, marking him on well throughout the match and being able to hold his own in a foot race. Long’s defensive performance was only undone by dos Santos’s super strike, but we won’t be forgetting the shift he put in.
One of the Best in the Gold Cup: Named in the best Gold Cup XI, Aaron Long should have cemented his place as a USMNT mainstay with consistent performances throughout the tournament. You might recall that in the friendly loss to Venezuela before the tournament began, Long struggled, waiting too long to prevent Roldan from striking in the box. We have to commend his ability to switch gears into tournament mode and he played his heart out in each match he lined up. Whether it was his two goal performance vs T&T or the laser focus in the final, Long should be a part of every USMNT squad for years to come. Still on the books at Red Bull New York, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Long follow the path of a certain Tyler Adams and move to a sister club in Europe after such a successful tournament.
Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA) - Chelsea FC, Premier League
On the way to being a legend: If Pulisic had scored and the US won in the final, without a doubt, he would probably be entering legendary status. Of course, that didn’t happen and Pulisic is only 20, but this Gold Cup, he showed time and time again that he is the best American player we have seen in years. His incredible 1v1 speed dribbling, outstanding first touch, and sublime finishing makes him the most exciting player on the team. With three goals and three assists this tournament, he showed his value in making a difference and being the main outpost for finishing off an attacking play. He was getting involved in every way possible, and found himself in a range of positions throughout the tournament. Whether he was swinging in a cross on the wing, driving the ball up the pitch, or taking defenders head on, Christian was an absolute menace this summer.
Can he cope in the Premier League: A league filled with top class wingers, the Premier League will be the greatest challenge that Christian has faced in his career thus far. Pulisic has massive shoes to fill as Hazard has departed London and Chelsea are shut down with a transfer ban for this summer. Though some might argue he might need to bulk up to cope with the physicality of the league, his ability to turn so quickly on a dime gives him an advantage that larger, more top-heavy wingers might not have. We’re all pumped to see Pulisic in the most competitive league in Europe, playing Champions League football and making Americans feel hopeful for the future.
Jordan Morris (24, Seattle, WA) - Seattle Sounders, MLS
While we thought Morris was one of the weakest players against Mexico, we wanted to highlight his performance vs. Jamaica earlier in the week.
Gets the start and performs: Getting the nod ahead of Tyler Boyd during the Gold Cup semifinal, Jordan Morris proved to be a constant menace on the right wing, often pressing the Jamaican defense early and making dangerous runs off the ball. Along with that, Morris looked willing to take players on 1v1, robust on the ball and willing to seek out shots on target. While Morris didn’t get on the score sheet himself, one of his efforts led to the second USMNT goal after the Jamaican keeper was unable to hold onto Morris’s driven shot on goal:
Relationship with Cannon forming: One other interesting tidbit - on the right wing alongside Reggie Cannon (who looks like a serious contender for a permanent spot with the USMNT), the two have struck up a great chemistry on the field, often combining in tight spaces in the final third of the pitch. More than that, Jordan Morris’ relentless runs along the right wing and into the center of the pitch create valuable space for Reggie Cannon to drive into and hit crosses into the box.
To be honest, we haven’t always been big Jordan Morris fans here at OneGoal, but gotta give credit where credit is due and he looked impressive vs. Jamaica. Let’s hope he can do it at a higher level of competition.
Chris Mueller (22, Schaumburg, IL) - Orlando City, MLS
Orlando City’s Chris Mueller has continued his great form that he has shown in parts of this season. Known for his fast dribbling, solid shot, and abilities from dead balls, Chris Mueller always adds an extra boost of adrenaline to the team when he’s on the pitch. His lack of minutes this season is perhaps due to the fact that Orlando is overloaded up front - he has five other attackers to compete for minutes, but if he keeps up, he should be pushing for more starts or even a transfer outside of MLS.
Mueller had two great goals in recent games vs Columbus and Philadelphia. Both goals showed different qualities of the winger, as his strike against Philly showcased his pacy dribbling and willingness to take defenders on, while with his goal in Ohio, he exhibited a sweet first touch and outside the boot finish.
See for yourself why we think Mueller is one of the most underrated wingers in MLS.
Goal vs Philly:
Goal vs Columbus:
Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (17, Fresno, CA) - Seattle Sounders, MLS
Our Youth Spotlight goes to Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, who made his starting XI debut for the Seattle Sounders during this week’s MLS match-up vs. the Columbus Crew. A technically gifted, pacey, and composed striker, Ocampo-Chavez is one of many young talented players getting a shot with the Sounders’ senior team, following their impressive GA Cup victory earlier this year. Above all, his strength lies in his versatility, as he’s able to play almost any attacking position, go deep to retrieve the ball, take players on 1v1, and slot home the final ball. After his impressive rise from the Youth ranks, Ocampo-Chavez will be a guy to keep an eye out for this season. He sure looks ready from a technical perspective.
Check out his recent interview after signing his first team contract:
OneGoal’s 2022 World Cup Roster as of Today
Zack Steffen (24, Coatesville, PA): Played 90 minutes in the USA’s 3-1 win vs. Jamaica and played 90 minutes in the USMNT’s 0-1 loss to Mexico (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 0-2 loss to FC Dallas (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 USA’s 3-1 win vs. Jamaica and played 90 minutes in the USMNT’s 0-1 loss to Mexico (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 USA’s 3-1 win vs. Jamaica and played 90 minutes in the USMNT’s 0-1 loss to Mexico (Gold Cup).
Nick Lima (24, Castro Valley, CA): Did not play this week but part of the Gold Cup roster.
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 USA’s 3-1 win vs. Jamaica and played 90 minutes in the USMNT’s 0-1 loss to Mexico (Gold Cup).
Wil Trapp (26, Columbus, OH): Did not play this week but part of the Gold Cup roster.
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’ 2-0 win vs. DC United (MLS).
Djordje Mihailovic (20, Lemont, IL): Did not play this week but part of the Gold Cup roster.
Christian Pulisic (20, Hershey, PA): Played 90 minutes in the USA’s 3-1 win vs. Jamaica and played 90 minutes in the USMNT’s 0-1 loss to Mexico (Gold Cup).
Paul Arriola (24, Chula Vista, CA): Played 88 minutes in the USA’s 3-1 win vs. Jamaica and played 90 minutes in the USMNT’s 0-1 loss to Mexico (Gold Cup).
Tyler Boyd (24, Santa Ynez, CA): Did not play this week but part of the Gold Cup roster.
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
Cameron Carter-Vickers has reportedly been put up for sale by Tottenham, following his loan end with Swansea.
Sergino Dest has been playing with Ajax’s first team in their pre-season camp including various appearances in friendlies.
Djordje Mihailvoic has been linked with several Bundesliga clubs in recent weeks including Hertha Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen.
Manchester United is reportedly keeping a close eye on U20 USMNT international, Julian Araujo from the LA Galaxy.
Zack Steffen has seemingly completed a loan move to Fortuna Dusseldorf according to Germany’s Sport Bild.
Third Division Tier and Berhalter’s former team 1860 Munich has reportedly been taking a look at Haji Wright as a potential transfer target.
John Anthony Brooks (Ligament strain; in individual practice)
George Bello (Adductor injury; expected to miss another month)
DeAndre Yedlin (Groin surgery; timeline TBD)
Duane Holmes (Thigh injury; in recovery)
Tyler Adams (Groin injury; joining RB Leipzig for pre-season camp)
Ethan Horvath (Hand injury; joining Club Brugge for pre-season camp)