USMNT: Hold My Beer

DJnVa

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If England has 2 wins and Wales has a win and a tie entering that final match, then a tie in that final match gives England 7 points and Wales 5, while the US goes home early with only 4 points with a win against Iran. So while neither team wants to lose, a draw works out fine for both.
I think we get that math, but the idea that Wales will settle for a draw against England, with a chance to win the group and get easier R16 matchup seems off to me. As does the chance England thinks everyone wants a draw only to see Bale rip a thunderbolt in the 84th minute and then they get Netherlands in R16 while Wales gets Senegal or Ecuador.

England is going to push hard early and try to get up a goal or 2 and then try to rip them on the counter.
 

SocrManiac

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Just finished watching for the third time...

I don't follow USMNT as much as I should and am very much a bandwagoner. Maybe a lot of this will be obvious to the folks that watch more regularly. My observations:

  1. Weston McKinnie either isn't healthy or isn't fully fit after recovering from his injury. I've watched him a lot with Juventus. His first step is slow and he looked hesitant to challenge on either side of the ball. He has all of the tools to be one of the US's best players and I'll love watching him grow into the box to box role. He's made a habit of popping up in the attacking area and scoring important goals. I wish he had one in him yesterday.
  2. Matt Turner is such a throwback, old-school shot stopper. The US has a tradition of producing guys like him. It's great to have such a solid presence at the back. He doesn't have the ability with the ball at his feet that we see from the world class guys, but I'll trade that for the stability and confidence it gives a defense to know the last line of defense is rock-solid.
  3. Dest is oozing confidence right now and has a swagger about him that's clearly contagious. It reminds me a bit of how Dempsey carried himself and how his teammates reacted to that presence.
  4. Pulisic's service yesterday was dreadful and possibly a key difference in the match. He was able to find dangerous pockets and put himself in great positions but the final ball kept letting him down. A more active tactical manager probably pulls him off set piece duty partway through.
  5. Somebody mentioned it in the game thread, but the substitutions destroyed the cohesion. The team on the field to close out the match had no chance of breaking down a low block.
    1. Somebody (apologies for a lot of indirect citation) mentioned that it was MLS players coming on. I'd like to think that's coincidence and not predictive. The MLS I've watched of late has drastically improved over even a few years ago. Is the gulf still that wide?
 

Jimy Hendrix

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McKennie is definitely not healthy, especially after minute 35 when he was grabbing the groin and people in the gamethread were confused about it being a nutshot. It was, unfortunately (a thing I rarely say) not a nutshot. Between that, Musah running out of gas midway through the second half, and de la Torre and Reyna not being super fit/healthy I am worried about the midfield.

Pulisic did drop that dime in transition to Weah, so credit where due there, but he wasn't great on the final ball often enough today and was dreadful on set pieces.

MLS = BAD is an overused narrative amongst the more annoying sections of the fanbase. I don't love a lot of the specific MLS players on the roster, but that's less the league and more Berhalter being a bit of a weird and bad talent evaluator. In that batch of subs Acosta for example has been okay at the 6 and bad at the 8 for years now, but Berhalter keeps putting him back at the 8 where he is then not very good. Yedlin was where attacks went to die in a bad deep cross when he came on, but MLS has nothing to do with it really, he was the exact same guy for the US when he was in Turkey or the Championship or wherever.
 

67YAZ

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MLS = BAD is an overused narrative amongst the more annoying sections of the fanbase. I don't love a lot of the specific MLS players on the roster, but that's less the league and more Berhalter being a bit of a weird and bad talent evaluator. In that batch of subs Acosta for example has been okay at the 6 and bad at the 8 for years now, but Berhalter keeps putting him back at the 8 where he is then not very good. Yedlin was where attacks went to die in a bad deep cross when he came on, but MLS has nothing to do with it really, he was the exact same guy for the US when he was in Turkey or the Championship or wherever.
Yedlin is a defensive sub at this point. Dest was looking gassed and needed to come off, but Gregg needed to employ some tactical nous here. Yedlin should really be staying back to form a back 3 when in possession to allow the right mid & Adams cover to get further upfield. Yedlin shouldn’t be ranging up the flank especially since we don’t really have a target man to aim at…which is why I would have brought Pefok.

Acosta is not an 8 on the international stage as much as Gregg wishes it so. I thought that really hurt the attack. Musah was spent, so he had to come off, but again, a tactical switch up to a 4-2-3-1 to keep Acosta back and let Adams push up more.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Yedlin is a defensive sub at this point. Dest was looking gassed and needed to come off, but Gregg needed to employ some tactical nous here. Yedlin should really be staying back to form a back 3 when in possession to allow the right mid & Adams cover to get further upfield. Yedlin shouldn’t be ranging up the flank especially since we don’t really have a target man to aim at…which is why I would have brought Pefok.
Damn near everyone not named Tyler Adams was pretty gassed by minute 60. I wonder if it was a gameplan issue, or just about how many of our players don't have enough fitness & minutes under their belts.
 

67YAZ

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Damn near everyone not named Tyler Adams was pretty gassed by minute 60. I wonder if it was a gameplan issue, or just about how many of our players don't have enough fitness & minutes under their belts.
Outside of McKennie, that’s a huge question. The MLS guys should be rested and raring to go. The European based guys should be in condition. The best case is that the opening game adrenaline was surging in the first half and then snapped them in the second half.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Outside of McKennie, that’s a huge question. The MLS guys should be rested and raring to go. The European based guys should be in condition. The best case is that the opening game adrenaline was surging in the first half and then snapped them in the second half.
I mean, one man's "rested and raring to go" is another man's "not match sharp", so there's some concern there. As for the European guys, we have:
  • McKennie working back from an injury
  • de la Torre working back from an injury, also getting almost no minutes at Celta Vigo
  • Reyna working back from an injury
  • Dest working back from a recent injury/weird team situation
  • Weah working back from an injury
  • Pulisic getting spotty minutes
That's 5/11 starters and a somewhat important bench piece (6/11 if you want to count Turner being a backup as spotty minutes, although GK is a whole other thing I think). Pulisic could be off that list, that's the one I'm least worried about there, but that's still a pretty big chunk of the most important guys on the team.
 

speedracer

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Damn near everyone not named Tyler Adams was pretty gassed by minute 60. I wonder if it was a gameplan issue, or just about how many of our players don't have enough fitness & minutes under their belts.
The relentless high pressing and attacking for the first 45’ had much to do with it, I thought.

Sure looked to me like the second half plan was to do more of the same. No idea why Aaronson didn’t come on earlier and Reyna didn’t come in at all — every time we had an attacking possession going, seemed like 3 or 4 guys were huffing and puffing or just hanging back at the center stripe and then Pulisic would lose the ball trying to go through two defenders.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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...especially since we don’t really have a target man to aim at…
That's Wright's role. Berhalter clearly thinks he's in better form for doing that right now than Pefok, and I tend to think that Wright is also a little more useful at things other than lurking in the box looking to bury something (which is great if you succeed but not so great if you don't and can't make up for it by making the rest of the team better).
 

InstaFace

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Just finished watching for the third time...

I don't follow USMNT as much as I should and am very much a bandwagoner. Maybe a lot of this will be obvious to the folks that watch more regularly. My observations:

  1. Weston McKinnie either isn't healthy or isn't fully fit after recovering from his injury. I've watched him a lot with Juventus. His first step is slow and he looked hesitant to challenge on either side of the ball. He has all of the tools to be one of the US's best players and I'll love watching him grow into the box to box role. He's made a habit of popping up in the attacking area and scoring important goals. I wish he had one in him yesterday.
  2. Matt Turner is such a throwback, old-school shot stopper. The US has a tradition of producing guys like him. It's great to have such a solid presence at the back. He doesn't have the ability with the ball at his feet that we see from the world class guys, but I'll trade that for the stability and confidence it gives a defense to know the last line of defense is rock-solid.
  3. Dest is oozing confidence right now and has a swagger about him that's clearly contagious. It reminds me a bit of how Dempsey carried himself and how his teammates reacted to that presence.
  4. Pulisic's service yesterday was dreadful and possibly a key difference in the match. He was able to find dangerous pockets and put himself in great positions but the final ball kept letting him down. A more active tactical manager probably pulls him off set piece duty partway through.
  5. Somebody mentioned it in the game thread, but the substitutions destroyed the cohesion. The team on the field to close out the match had no chance of breaking down a low block.
    1. Somebody (apologies for a lot of indirect citation) mentioned that it was MLS players coming on. I'd like to think that's coincidence and not predictive. The MLS I've watched of late has drastically improved over even a few years ago. Is the gulf still that wide?
Interesting analysis.

1. Yes, McKennie is clearly not 100% but he got a knock a few weeks ago and stands a chance of being better in games 2 and 3 as he gets past it. We have absolutely nobody who can do his role at anything close to his level, so we'll go as far as he takes us.
3. Dest is 100% hot sauce, and loves dribbling through guys. He has a ton of swagger but his role yesterday didn't really take advantage of that. All our other RBs are stay-at-home, defense-first RBs, although Scally is young enough that he has the chance to become more than that. But Dest is another level of players and good management will draw that out of him, as he had with Koeman at Barcelona.
4. Yeah Pulisic is best when cutting inside, you want Jedi (Antonee Robinson) overlapping and providing the wide service. If Pulisic takes those driving runs through the middle 10 times per game, we'll get great chances out of 2-3 of them. That's usually what Berhalter's system drives him to do, and one of the reasons we don't put Reyna in the McKennie role, because he likes to go to the same places as Pulisic does.

5. The MLS gulf is wide but it's very player- and position-specific. Turner is still basically an MLS goalie with a handful of Europa League starts, and Johnson is a very serviceable goalie too, even if nobody will confuse him with De Gea. Zimmerman is a great defender, but isn't at a top-league level with his on-ball technique. Ferreira has great attack assets as a false-9 or second striker, doesn't do great as a target man, could probably make more abroad but Dallas backed up the brinks truck for him. But other than him, Morris, [Arriola] and Roldan are as close as you get to elite American attacking talent in MLS, and they're just very clearly well below the level needed. Moore as a backup FB was in the Segunda until this summer and looked great at Nashville this fall. Acosta is a serviceable MLS CM who is the closest to our destroyer model of CDM in Adams. Yedlin has always been a good defensive RB speed merchant who could get downfield and put in a cross, but has lost a bunch of his bite over the last few years and the fact that he's in MLS (as said above) has little to do with it. There are a few young guys just breaking out in MLS (much as Aaronson, Adams and Pepi did), who might get a call-up while still state-side, but their future is likely in Europe.

I think the bottom line with MLS is that other than goalies, nobody who is still there in their prime should be regarded as a decent candidate to start for the USMNT. It's a good dev league, and the best MLS lifers will be peripheral to our pool, but it needs another decade or two of growth (which, to give it credit, has been steady over the last 15 years) before it can really retain players of the talent level that's starting for the USA. If Ferreira starts (probably vs Iran), you'll see that statement put to the test.
 

Titans Bastard

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The MLS vs. non-MLS narrative is so, so tired.

And it's mostly about tone. There's a group of USMNT fans who think they are edgier and cooler to adopt a contemptuous attitude toward MLS. It's boring and dumb. Nobody has to pretend that MLS is all unicorns and rainbows, but laying on the condescension is purely a product of people's inferiority complex as American soccer fans.

A reality that almost everyone agrees on:

1) We want the best American players to play in the best leagues in Europe

Some not-controversial realities that some people are too stubborn or weirdly ideological to acknowledge:

2) Not every player who happens to be employed in Europe, even some players in Big Five leagues, are better than some guys who happen to be in MLS.

3) The player pool has evolved to the point where MLS players on the roster will mostly be fringe guys, with some exceptions (e.g. Zimmerman). This is normal and not an indictment of MLS. The Cristian Roldans of the world are pretty solid soccer players in the grand scheme of things, but they obviously aren't as good as guys who are in demand from clubs in the biggest leagues in the world.

4) Our player pool isn't good enough to support a best-possible squad of 26 players that doesn't have a contingent based in MLS.

5) Now that MLS youth development has a bit of cachet in the transfer market, good clubs are going shopping here, and the league is consistently exporting talent, there's really no reason to have all this conflict. Everyone should be happy with the direction things are going.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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The relentless high pressing and attacking for the first 45’ had much to do with it, I thought.

Sure looked to me like the second half plan was to do more of the same. No idea why Aaronson didn’t come on earlier and Reyna didn’t come in at all — every time we had an attacking possession going, seemed like 3 or 4 guys were huffing and puffing or just hanging back at the center stripe and then Pulisic would lose the ball trying to go through two defenders.
It’s just who GGG is, slow trigger on subs, not that it matters if you make the wrong ones or bring the wrong players in the first place but alas.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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The relentless high pressing and attacking for the first 45’ had much to do with it, I thought.

Sure looked to me like the second half plan was to do more of the same.
I'm not convinced the second half plan was more of the same. I think they would have taken it if it was there, but when Wales found more possession and opened up, I think Berhalter wanted to hit them on the counter. Unfortunately, they just don't have anybody even close to Donovan's level as a counterattacking player. Pulisic in particular had the one great play to Weah to spring the goal but had about ten more chances where he didn't make the pass and either was dispossessed or backed off / slowed down / waited for the defense to recover. (Put peak Donovan in the U.S. lineup in the second half, and I think we might have beaten Wales by multiple goals.)

No idea why Aaronson didn’t come on earlier and Reyna didn’t come in at all — every time we had an attacking possession going, seemed like 3 or 4 guys were huffing and puffing or just hanging back at the center stripe and then Pulisic would lose the ball trying to go through two defenders.
I agree that the subs seemed to come late, but it doesn't seem to have hurt us at all. They didn't make much of a difference when they came on (Aaronson was pretty disappointing) and the goal was scored after the substitutions.

Reyna reportedly had some hamstring tightness in the lead-up to the game. According to his camp, he was 100% fit, but given his history (especially with hamstring problems) I think it's understandable for the U.S. staff to be cautious. I think he might have come into the game if the U.S. were trailing early in the second half, but it makes sense to keep the powder dry defending a lead.
 

GB5

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Just read a stat that I would swear can’t be true, and I am too lazy to look it up.
Anyways, since 1950 the USA has played 27 World Cup Games, without looking anyone want to guess how many of them they have won?
 

67YAZ

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Let’s look forward to the England match.

In possession against Iran, England were in a 3-3-1-3, with Mount in between the lines there - mostly moving between Kane and Sterling, but also popping up on the right to create overloads.

But the playmaking engine was the Shaw-Bellingham-Trippier midfield line, especially Shaw who had the most progressive passes. Pressuring those 3 intelligently is going to be key. We know Stones and Maguire can be pressed into turnovers and that Pickford’s preference is to lump it long when he’s been closed down. Forcing the ball backwards and getting the front three to press in coordination is our best chance to create high quality chances.

Bellingham is a big problem, though. Or more specifically, tracking Bellingham is a problem because his vertical movement can pull our 9 too far back or Adams too far up. Adams will already have a lot of traffic to deal with - Mount moving across, Kane dropping back a bit, and Bellingham picking spots to surge ahead.

If Musah or McKennie slide over to try to cover Bellingham, we’ll see Trip or Shaw push forward and draw Kane and Mount over to create a chaotic overload. Our wingers are going to have to stay alert and track back in these moments.

But there will be space behind Shaw and Trip that will create some enticing 1v1 opportunities for Pulisic and Weah (or Gio?) against Maguire and Stones. If the US defense can outlet into those spaces early on and get our wingers dribbling at the CBs, that should slow Shaw and Trip.
 

Titans Bastard

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Just read a stat that I would swear can’t be true, and I am too lazy to look it up.
Anyways, since 1950 the USA has played 27 World Cup Games, without looking anyone want to guess how many of them they have won?
I'm thinking five.

Colombia (1994), Portugal (2002), Mexico (2002), Algeria (2010), Ghana (2014).
 

InstaFace

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Anyways, since 1950 the USA has played 27 World Cup Games, without looking anyone want to guess how many of them they have won?
Nevermind the answer, ask yourself why it's "since 1950". Why draw the line there, why not say "ever"? Did something happen in 1950? Something big? Did we happen to beat a team there?

Answers, at truly florid length, can be found here. And even if you know the answer, as most here do, that's a good story well worth your time, as we count down to Friday and the next match.
 

trs

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I agree that the subs seemed to come late, but it doesn't seem to have hurt us at all. They didn't make much of a difference when they came on (Aaronson was pretty disappointing) and the goal was scored after the substitutions.
While bringing three in at minute 74 seems later than your usual 60-65 minute subs, keep in mind these World Cup games are going on for 10 minutes longer than what most of these players will be used to. Collina has said multiple times that refs have been told to measure stoppages accurately and not be afraid to add 15-20 minutes to game times. According to this piece, https://english.elpais.com/sports/2022-11-22/why-matches-at-the-2022-qatar-world-cup-are-the-longest-in-history.html, 60 total minutes were added to the first 4 games, including 14 to the USA/Wales game. The majority of these minutes get added to the second half, so the tradition 3-4 minutes added to the second half are going to be closer to 9-12 minutes added depending on scores, injuries (which I think we'll see quite a few of given the tight schedule most European league players have had and the heat), and other substitutions.

All this to say, a minute 74 sub is a lot closer to a minute 60 sub these days, as they're going to be on until minute 100 more often than not.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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5 is the correct answers. That stuns me. 5 wins in 72 years.
Let's keep in mind that we went 40 of those in between World Cup appearances, so yeah, it's 5 in 72, but it's also 5 in 32 (or a little under one per World Cup appearance if you set the current one aside).
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Can’t shake this bad feeling about tomorrow. Trying to find a path to steal a point or, worst case, advance even with a loss and it’s just tough.

So far I have settled on at minimum needing a heroic performance by Turner and probably the first goal as well. Fitness is such a big question mark right now, and with that + the manager I see the late game as a huge concern whether they need a goal or to prevent one.

But this wouldn’t be the first time the USMNT have surprised in an underdog spot, and the talent is there. Just have this nagging feeling that next week we’ll all be holding hands and soothing ourselves with gratitude for the experience to prep for 2026 when they will be ready for a big next step, hopefully with heartier soft tissue.
 

DJnVa

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The talent is there, but we are the second youngest team in this tourney. We don't want it to just be a learning experience, but in a lot of ways it is.

I hope we go at them, win or lose. We need to tie the new American talent to the old US tenet of outworking others.
 

67YAZ

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The Athletic reporting Kane is fit & Southgate to send out the same squad again.

Doesn’t matter. It says right here US 2-1 England.
 

allstonite

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The talent is there, but we are the second youngest team in this tourney. We don't want it to just be a learning experience, but in a lot of ways it is.

I hope we go at them, win or lose. We need to tie the new American talent to the old US tenet of outworking others.
This is where I’m at. If we’re aggressive but lose I can live with it rather than trying to not lose. I guess it also depends what happens in the earlier game. If Wales doesn’t get a win, I guess US would have to be conservative in hopes of sneaking through but let’s play like Japan and take it to them.
 

DJnVa

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Can you imagine the feeling in the 80th minute in a tie game or protecting a 1 goal lead? I may throw up.
 

ddeveau

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I actually dreamed a 2-1 US win thanks to a Pulisic brace. I doubt it means anything, but I hope I can always return to my dream.
 

joe dokes

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The talent is there, but we are the second youngest team in this tourney. We don't want it to just be a learning experience, but in a lot of ways it is.

I hope we go at them, win or lose. We need to tie the new American talent to the old US tenet of outworking others.
I think that's why they were gassed. Youth=nerves and just burning energy unnecessarily. Hopefully with one good half and one not-so-good half, theyll be better longer.
 

Silverdude2167

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Alright we control our own destiny which is fair even if we should be on 4 points at least.

If we can't beat Iran we don't deserve to advance anyways. CP needs a moment, lets hope it happens Tuesday.
 

ragnarok725

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How much is Iran going to play for a tie? If England beats Wales then a tie gets Iran through. It seems like they may park the bus and rely on England to take care of business. That could be dangerous for the US - they have struggled to finish thus far and have struggled historically to break down a team playing super conservatively.

If they can't beat Iran they don't deserve to continue, but the incentives may make it extra difficult.
 

tims4wins

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How much is Iran going to play for a tie? If England beats Wales then a tie gets Iran through. It seems like they may park the bus and rely on England to take care of business. That could be dangerous for the US - they have struggled to finish thus far and have struggled historically to break down a team playing super conservatively.

If they can't beat Iran they don't deserve to continue, but the incentives may make it extra difficult.
100%, but this could allow the US to control the game
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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It’s going to be like the Algeria game. Except they were playing for a draw for pride and Iran will be playing to go through. The U.S. doesn’t have the kind of finishing quality that can punish teams playing for a draw but if they play like they played today, they are going to get some chances. Just have to take them well.
 

tmracht

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It all becomes scenes if Wales goes up early 1-0.

But either way if the team comes out and plays like they did the first 75 minutes, they've got every chance to beat Iran.

Iran can bunker, but one goal and they are in big big trouble. It will be interesting how this goes. They can try to thread the needle and go out 0-0 or 0-1 on the counter, but its a precarious spot for them.

This was the freeest I can remember the US playing in a big game. They were trying to make plays come off, back heels, goalies dribbling, half turns. This was finally a different US team in a big game.
 

tmracht

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I'd say its pretty likely, Beiranvand is wearing a mask for a broken nose and serious concussion. Maybe he plays a week after that, but seems quick.