Quick Takeaways from USA v Uruguay

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OneGoal’s Quick Takeaways Following USA vs. Uruguay (1-1) at Busch Stadium:

Make players fit a system; or make a system fit the players? In yet another game, Berhalter held true to his possession-oriented style, which begs a bigger philosophical coaching question: do we make players fit our system or do we create a system to fit the players? It is abundantly clear that Berhalter’s approach is the former and while we did dominate control of the ball for stretches against Uruguay, it didn’t result in many meaningful USMNT chances. More than that, the best coaches in the world consistently tweak their tactical set-up based on player availability/opponents without making wholesale changes to the broader team tactics. Something for Berhalter and the USMNT to aspire to.

Tim Ream looks better at center back than at the inverted left back role, as Ream looked comfortable on the ball, passing out of the back, and winning tackles. An early case of Berhalter adjusting to players’ best positions? 

Sergino Dest has officially gotten his chance with the senior USMNT - something the USMNT fan base (including us) loudly demanded. He looked solid in both games, a bit raw defensively, but a true enrichment on the wing as an attacking threat - almost like a left winger. We continue to think he’s a special player and the absolute future. Berhalter did his part in securing Dest as a future USMNT player. Now it’s up to Dest himself. 

Same with Reggie Cannon - we may have found two full back solutions. The big discovery of the Gold Cup, it seems clear that Cannon has cemented his spot in the USMNT. Similar to Dest, Cannon looked dangerous a few times vs. Uruguay when he made his way forward on the right wing. 

Possession play improved compared to the Mexico game. Whether we like the tactics or not, the USMNT greatly improved its game on the ball, booking 60% possession against a talented Uruguay side. The team looked more comfortable on the ball, runs off the ball were notable, and mistakes playing out of the back severely decreased with the introduction of Ream/Robinson. 

Attacking third problem remains. Without Christian Pulisic in the final third, a lot of the creativity immediately falls away. While Sargent was working tirelessly and continued to make intelligent runs, we need more of a spark in the final third. Jordan Morris’ equalizer after a lucky rebound was almost symbolic for a lackluster attacking third execution otherwise.

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Pomykal deserved more after only playing five minutes on his debut. After praising Paxton in the press before the game, we had anticipated to see more of the FC Dallas midfielder vs. Uruguay. Nonetheless, we think he will take on a larger role in coming USMNT camps. 

Jackson Yueill as the deep lying playmaker was very average. Though he had some nice cross field switches and long balls to open up plays on the wings - he had a few errant passes and two embarrassing corners. This was Yueill’s third appearance for the USMNT, and he did not fare too well against the compact midfield that Uruguay set up. To be fair, Yueill is more of a box-to-box midfielder at San Jose and his dynamic play style might not be best expressed playing so deep. The midfield selection and set up in this match certainly had us scratching our heads. 

Both teams were far from full strength as the USMNT started without its main leaders (Pulisic, Adams, McKennie, Brooks, Steffen, etc.), while Uruguay played without its star strikers Suarez and Cavani. While a good opportunity to give the second string some chances, it also limits more relevant first team takeaways. 

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