Quick Takeaways from USA v Mexico
OneGoal’s 10 Quick Takeaways Following USA vs. Mexico (0-3) at MetLife Stadium:
1. Berhalter was tactically outclassed by Mexico’s head coach, Tata Martino. Berhalter’s typical possession-oriented build up play was never able to unfold as high pressure from Mexico’s front three immediately targeted our center backs and Zack Steffen, which forced numerous mistakes or inconsequential passes from our back line. Not only did this hinder any potential USMNT attacking threat before it even started, but a mistake playing out of the back directly led to Mexico’s second goal.
2. There needs to be a Plan B. Perhaps the most frustrating part of the night, after clearly being outdone tactically in the first 20 minutes of the game, Berhalter and the USMNT looked inflexible or unwilling to change their approach to the game. Instead of altering course and adjusting against a high-press Mexican side with a few long balls to Pulisic or Boyd on the wings, the USMNT continued to force play through Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman for the remainder of the game.
3. Sergino Dest looked raw at left back, lining up against Mexico’s Jesus Corona on the night. Dest showed skill going forward but twice was completely undone by Corona’s trickery in the first half - one of which led to Mexico’s first goal by Chicharito. Nonetheless, Dest showed real promise when on the ball and initial link-up plays with Christian Pulisic on the left wing leave us excited for more. He’s still just 18 years old.
4. Lack of creative outlet in the midfield triangle was apparent. While Weston McKennie is a highly talented box-to-box midfielder, he was playing too far up the pitch to be effective and is simply not a creator in the final third. More than that, a Trapp-Morales-McKennie triangle completely lacked any creative outlet.
5. It’s okay to send the ball long. We were sitting right behind Zack Steffen’s goal in the first half in the the American Outlaw section and needless to say, it was downright frustrating to see short pass after short pass that put unnecessary pressure on our defense. Don’t get us wrong, we think Steffen is a fantastic keeper and a rock-solid #1 for the team, but sometimes it’s okay to just send the ball long. Especially when we have two pacey players in Pulisic and Boyd on the wing.
6. Christian Pulisic looked to change the game but was often isolated. Never shy to take on opposing players 1v1, he was one of the few players who looked ready to put up a fight. Often left isolated with few outlets up top, even Pulisic was unable to drive real spark on offense.
7. Tyler Adams is desperately needed. His energy, class on the ball, leadership, and tackling abilities were all thoroughly missed.
8. On a positive note, Alfredo Morales returned to the team with a solid comeback in a holding center mid role, where he got stuck into tackles, kept the ball moving and broke up plays. Unsure he will be a contender for a starting XI spot when Tyler Adams and Duane Holmes return, but he is definitely a contender for a permanent role in Berhalter’s squad.
9. Josh Sargent’s penalty miss was symbolic for a disappointing night. Coming off a great week in the Bundesliga, Josh Sargent missed a penalty in the last few minutes of the game in an almost symbolic fashion for how the rest of the game unfolded. Let’s hope Sargent gets the nod from the start against Uruguay on Tuesday for another chance to get on the score sheet.
10. We need to react. Berhalter has been at the helm of the USMNT for nine months now. We understand that he only sees the team for a few weeks at a time, but this game has to serve as a true wake-up call. We have the talent in our ranks and young players are ready for the integration with the senior team - we just need a capable manager to lead them and Berhalter has not shown that he is capable of that so far. We are not calling for him to be fired just yet, but if he proves that this game did not teach him to be tactically flexible, the USMNT may need a new leader.