USMNT Summer 2024: Beauty is in the Eye of the Berhalter

rguilmar

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With the European season more or less wrapped up and the boys in camp, it’s time to kick of a summer USMNT thread. The US will host and compete in the 2024 Copa America. The U-23s will be participating in the 2024 Paris Olympics. Enticing friendlies serve as a wonderful appetizer too. We will definitely have games against heavy hitters Colombia and Brazil (at least once), Uruguay in the Copa America group stage and France in the Olympics group stage. Great measuring stick summer to see where this program truly is.

You can see the full schedule here.

Let’s gooooo!!!
 

Alex18

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As someone who just really started following the USMNT and the sport as a whole, I cannot wait for these upcoming friendlies and copa.

Nations league and gold cup was great but i can’t wait to see them up against the elite teams with hopefully a bunch of our next World Cup team playing.

Who do we want to see at LB and who do we think Gregg goes with?
 

cromulence

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I think you mean RB, as Jedi is locked in at LB. A lot of people are calling for Weah to go there, though I think that's only feasible against non-elite teams. Nobody seems excited about Scally, but it seems to me like he's the logical choice. I'd certainly feel better about him than Shaq Moore.
 

Kliq

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Weah playing RB seems like a good idea if all you want to do is try to squeeze as many of our talented attackers on the field at once, and not focused on any type of cohesion or gameplan.
 

rguilmar

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The other option floated around is Weston since he did play there for the US recently (replacing Scally iirc). I’d like to see either Weah or Weston, or both, tried there during the friendlies to 1. See how it looks for the group stage games 2. Give Brazil/Colombia a different look as the US will likely see one (and hopefully both) in the knockouts. Maybe with a double pivot of Johnny and Adams, with one really shading right to help the RB. The reality is that no matter who starts at RB, they’re gonna need help against the Vinis and Diaz of the world.
 

rguilmar

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Another lost opportunity for thread title "Beauty is in the eye of the Berhalter". Alas.
My lack of creativity really shines through when I start a new thread. I’ll steal this but lemme know if you want it back.
 

teddykgb

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The other option floated around is Weston since he did play there for the US recently (replacing Scally iirc). I’d like to see either Weah or Weston, or both, tried there during the friendlies to 1. See how it looks for the group stage games 2. Give Brazil/Colombia a different look as the US will likely see one (and hopefully both) in the knockouts. Maybe with a double pivot of Johnny and Adams, with one really shading right to help the RB. The reality is that no matter who starts at RB, they’re gonna need help against the Vinis and Diaz of the world.
Midfield is not a low energy place but I don’t think Weston has the motor to play fullback. You can maybe talk me into it if Berhalter tries to steal that inverted fullback idea Pep and Arteta are using but given how much Robinson loves getting up his side and hammering often pointless crosses into the box I think a more natural defender in the RB position is probably mandatory
 

dirtynine

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Another lost opportunity for thread title "Beauty is in the eye of the Berhalter". Alas.
Well we did have the long-running thread USMNT: Hold My Beer which I always took as a roundabout reference to same.

Matches won’t get much bigger until 2026, so let’s mount up. Winning the whole damn thing (Copa) isn’t so crazy that I’m not thinking about it. Although I’d like to keep avoidable pressure off the squad as they prep for the WC. So let’s say a semifinal would be nice.
 

rguilmar

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In my lifetime, I’ve seen the US beat Brazil 1-0. Kasey Keller stood on his head and Preki got the goal. I’ve seen the US best Argentina 3-0 in a Copa America. Walking clickbait magnet Alexi Lalas even scored in that one. I’ve seen the US beat a much better Colombia team than the one coming to the Copa in a bigger tournament, Ernie Stewart’s greatest contribution to US soccer.

So yeah, it’s doable. Of course, John Harkes was still on speaking terms with Eric Wynalda during those games.
 

67YAZ

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I’m a fool, but k am hooding out hope that this is the year Gregg shows us some new strategic and tactical concepts. This is the summer to do it - you have the projected 2026 A team largely heathy and in form. You have high level, lower stakes competition that will pose the kinds of difficult problems they’ll see at the WC. This is the time for a 4-2-3-1 with Gio at the 10 or a higher speed transition game that take an advantage of Adams’ vertical passing ability. I dunno man…show us something new. Please.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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I’m a fool, but k am hooding out hope that this is the year Gregg shows us some new strategic and tactical concepts. This is the summer to do it - you have the projected 2026 A team largely heathy and in form. You have high level, lower stakes competition that will pose the kinds of difficult problems they’ll see at the WC. This is the time for a 4-2-3-1 with Gio at the 10 or a higher speed transition game that take an advantage of Adams’ vertical passing ability. I dunno man…show us something new. Please.
Gio already seems locked into the typical starting midfield, so you're halfway there. Do you just want to definitely see him higher up the field hell or high water versus say the nations league final where he was more involved in buildouts? I am excited to simply see the Gio/Wes/Adams midfield get more reps (assuming it does and Wes isn't Swiss army knifed into RB), due to the various injuries of last cycle there are weirdly few reps of what seems like the most no brainer traditional 6/8/10 type setup the US could have.

I think we're less likely to see vastly different tactical wrinkles (Gio being 10ish as the likely exception to that rule), but what I do think is in store for us now is increased options for good flexibility within matches. Bringing Musah on in minute 65 to just run at a tiring defense is exciting to me (or if you want to flip it using MMA to tire a defense and then bringing Gio in to exploit gaps). With Johnny's rise in La Liga we now have two very good DM candidates to either successfully rotate in tournaments or even to both have in to protect a lead or grit out a defensive game plan. Tillman (Malik edition) is an intriguing 10 candidate behind Gio instead of what we previously had, which was a void. More stuff like that and less just bringing Acosta off the bench to be meh because one of the good midfielders got tired.
 

teddykgb

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I’m a fool, but k am hooding out hope that this is the year Gregg shows us some new strategic and tactical concepts. This is the summer to do it - you have the projected 2026 A team largely heathy and in form. You have high level, lower stakes competition that will pose the kinds of difficult problems they’ll see at the WC. This is the time for a 4-2-3-1 with Gio at the 10 or a higher speed transition game that take an advantage of Adams’ vertical passing ability. I dunno man…show us something new. Please.
You’ll get 433 with Musah and McKennie and Gio on the bench and you’ll like it
 

rguilmar

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Gio already seems locked into the typical starting midfield, so you're halfway there. Do you just want to definitely see him higher up the field hell or high water versus say the nations league final where he was more involved in buildouts? I am excited to simply see the Gio/Wes/Adams midfield get more reps (assuming it does and Wes isn't Swiss army knifed into RB), due to the various injuries of last cycle there are weirdly few reps of what seems like the most no brainer traditional 6/8/10 type setup the US could have.

I think we're less likely to see vastly different tactical wrinkles (Gio being 10ish as the likely exception to that rule), but what I do think is in store for us now is increased options for good flexibility within matches. Bringing Musah on in minute 65 to just run at a tiring defense is exciting to me (or if you want to flip it using MMA to tire a defense and then bringing Gio in to exploit gaps). With Johnny's rise in La Liga we now have two very good DM candidates to either successfully rotate in tournaments or even to both have in to protect a lead or grit out a defensive game plan. Tillman (Malik edition) is an intriguing 10 candidate behind Gio instead of what we previously had, which was a void. More stuff like that and less just bringing Acosta off the bench to be meh because one of the good midfielders got tired.
I feel like this is where GGG is too. He was set on the MMA midfield for the last cycle, and it looks more like a 6-8-10 type of midfield this time around. I could see a world where he reverts to MMA and Gio nominally at RW, but more centrally, if Weah is playing RB to give Tim room to do his thing.

I’d really like to see more of Johnny at the 6. He does a lot of things much better than Adams. He’s better on the half turn, he’s better in the air, he’s better possessing the ball, he’s better at progressive passes, he’s more goal dangerous. Adams is much more of a destroyer as a 6 whereas Johnny plays the position more like a Busquets and gets in passing lanes. If the CB pairing is Richards and CCV, Johnny’s height and distribution could be much more useful. I do think playing him with Ream on the field might not work as well as their skills are somewhat redundant and they’re both pretty slow. I know I’m biased, but the gap between Johnny and Adams isn’t so big that the US can’t pick the one who is a better fit with the rest of the lineup and whose skill set is more useful against particular opponents. Adams starts against Brazil, Johnny against Bolivia as an example.
 

Titans Bastard

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You’ll get 433 with Musah and McKennie and Gio on the bench and you’ll like it
I'm not sure this is especially likely, though I expect rotation and different looks based on the opponent.

I think there's a lingering idea that GGG is deeply committed to an MMA midfield, but my view is that he decided to ride or die with MMA in the 2022 cycle because he didn't really have a choice. Gio was almost constantly injured and, additionally, was a locker room problem during the WC. LDLT was banged up and isn't on the same level as the other guys anyway. There wasn't anyone else.

Gio has since been healthier. All signs are that he's been a good teammate since the WC. The team clearly plays better when he's in, and Berhalter has shown a willingness to use him centrally. And now Tyler Adams is the true injury basketcase.

The emergence of Johnny gives us more options as well, but I'd be very surprised if Gio doesn't feature heavily, as long as he's healthy.
 

teddykgb

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I'm not sure this is especially likely, though I expect rotation and different looks based on the opponent.

I think there's a lingering idea that GGG is deeply committed to an MMA midfield, but my view is that he decided to ride or die with MMA in the 2022 cycle because he didn't really have a choice. Gio was almost constantly injured and, additionally, was a locker room problem during the WC. LDLT was banged up and isn't on the same level as the other guys anyway. There wasn't anyone else.

Gio has since been healthier. All signs are that he's been a good teammate since the WC. The team clearly plays better when he's in, and Berhalter has shown a willingness to use him centrally. And now Tyler Adams is the true injury basketcase.

The emergence of Johnny gives us more options as well, but I'd be very surprised if Gio doesn't feature heavily, as long as he's healthy.
You very well may be right but I don’t think we have seen much from Berhalter that suggests a large change is likely to happen and I’m not sure why he’s earned the benefit of the doubt. In any case, we will start to see soon enough and I’d welcome him having learned a few lessons if he has in fact done so.
 

rguilmar

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You very well may be right but I don’t think we have seen much from Berhalter that suggests a large change is likely to happen and I’m not sure why he’s earned the benefit of the doubt. In any case, we will start to see soon enough and I’d welcome him having learned a few lessons if he has in fact done so.
Since Gregg’s return:
11/16/23 against T&T 4-2-3-1 with Gio at the 10
11/20/23 against T&T (the Dest game) 4-2-2-2 with Gio and Brendan as CAMs
1/20/24 against Slovenia 4-2-3-1 with Timmy Tillman at the 10 iirc
3/21/24 against Jamaica 4-2-3-1 with Musah and McKennie at the double pivot and Malik at the 10 (Gio came on at the 10 later)
3/24/24 against Mexico 4-2-3-1 with Musah and McKennie at the double pivot and Gio at the 10

In a way, you’re right, GGG has shown little appetite for change. But he’s rolled with a 10 in pretty much every game since he’s retaken charge of the team, and Gio has essentially always taken the spot when healthy. Obviously Adams has been unavailable for all of these games, but the reality is that Gio as the 10 has been pretty much a fixture this cycle, and my money would be on this being what GGG sticks with.
 

Titans Bastard

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Berhalter's midfields in the 2022 cycle really lacked creativity. Maybe he'll continue to roll out midfields that have no creativity. But he hasn't done so in post-2022 friendlies + Nations League so far, and unlike pre-2022, he actually has options (Reyna, M. Tillman) that really weren't on the table in the last cycle.

I'm not trying to fanboy Gregg here — sometimes his teams look fairly static even when they have the right balance of players in the lineup — but I really think that a lot of the "GGG is extremely rigid" narrative comes from people forgetting that (a) despite a wave of new talent, the team didn't actually have a ton of depth in 2022 and (b) the midfield in particular had zero options who were more attack-minded than Weston McKennie other than always-injured Reyna (see graphic above).
 

rguilmar

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I'm not trying to fanboy Gregg here — sometimes his teams look fairly static even when they have the right balance of players in the lineup — but I really think that a lot of the "GGG is extremely rigid" narrative comes from people forgetting that (a) despite a wave of new talent, the team didn't actually have a ton of depth in 2022 and (b) the midfield in particular had zero options who were more attack-minded than Weston McKennie other than always-injured Reyna (see graphic above).
Speaking just for myself, I consider Gregg rigid because he never really seems to have a Plan B. We all know Plan A, the opponents know it and can prepare for it, and it makes it easy to stall the US attack even with a massive talent gap. I think most USMNT fans would welcome a lineup that got a more creative playmaker like Gio in more goal dangerous positions more consistently. My concern is that once he builds the system, that’s all that GGG will try to do, even when teams put clamps on Gio and stop the US attack. He’s not rigid in the sense that he doesn’t change his system over time, he’s rigid because once he settles on a system he won’t change game-to-game or within a game to counter what the opponent is doing. He just makes like-for-like substitutions- I’m sorry “solutions”, a phrase I hate but it’s decently representative of why I dislike GGG as manager. Solutions are needed for problems, and calling substitutions “solutions” indicates the player being subbed off was the problem. The system often was the problem (yes, I’m aware that often times substitutes can be tactical changes, but that’s rarely the case with, it’s usually a RB for a RB or a 10 for a 10 etc). He needs a plan B.

Again, GGG has slowly changed his system over time. You just need to look at the early GGG games versus the World Cup to see that. And I liked the MMA midfield myself. It was solid, and it meant that Lletget was not on the field. But how many times does the US need to cycle the ball from right to left to right, cross the ball into Jesus frickin Ferreira- a player who I actually enjoy watching but heading home lofted crosses against international CBs isn’t his strong suit- before Gregg changes things up?
 

67YAZ

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Speaking just for myself, I consider Gregg rigid because he never really seems to have a Plan B. We all know Plan A, the opponents know it and can prepare for it, and it makes it easy to stall the US attack even with a massive talent gap. I think most USMNT fans would welcome a lineup that got a more creative playmaker like Gio in more goal dangerous positions more consistently. My concern is that once he builds the system, that’s all that GGG will try to do, even when teams put clamps on Gio and stop the US attack. He’s not rigid in the sense that he doesn’t change his system over time, he’s rigid because once he settles on a system he won’t change game-to-game or within a game to counter what the opponent is doing. He just makes like-for-like substitutions- I’m sorry “solutions”, a phrase I hate but it’s decently representative of why I dislike GGG as manager. Solutions are needed for problems, and calling substitutions “solutions” indicates the player being subbed off was the problem. The system often was the problem (yes, I’m aware that often times substitutes can be tactical changes, but that’s rarely the case with, it’s usually a RB for a RB or a 10 for a 10 etc). He needs a plan B.

Again, GGG has slowly changed his system over time. You just need to look at the early GGG games versus the World Cup to see that. And I liked the MMA midfield myself. It was solid, and it meant that Lletget was not on the field. But how many times does the US need to cycle the ball from right to left to right, cross the ball into Jesus frickin Ferreira- a player who I actually enjoy watching but heading home lofted crosses against international CBs isn’t his strong suit- before Gregg changes things up?
Remember the Adams-as-inverted-RB thing in the first couple matches? Gregg was smart enough to run from that.

My initial point was not that Gregg doesn't change, but rather that this is the summer to be bold with experiments and new ideas. They won't see WC-level competition next summer, so anything this squad wants to seriously field test has to happen over the next few months. Having to toggle between Colombia & Brazil to Bolivia & Panama then Uruguay is great WC prep.

Summer 2025 is for refinements and building momentum.
 

rguilmar

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Or the back 3 with James Sands as a CB/DM. Unfortunately Sands brought ice skates to that game. But I agree with you @67YAZ, the friendlies are a time to try new things out. Plus the USMNT is likely facing Colombia or Brazil in the knockouts, and hopefully both. No reason to give them any additional insights into how the US will approach those games.
 

rguilmar

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I’m torn on this. This is my preferred starting 11 but I was actually hoping for more experimentation with the friendlies. Like Weah at RB or 3 CBs or something.
 

67YAZ

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Colombia’s XI

View: https://twitter.com/fcfseleccioncol/status/1799539846186180849?s=46&t=GfuLFvTYcOxcFiCZjyIYZw


will be interested to see how Weston & Cardoso coordinate and position relative to each other especially James prowling the middle of the pitch.

And I’m interested to see how they get width in position - both FBs, Weston stepping up & wings staying wide, etc. Lots of possibilities in this set up.

Diaz is going to be hard to manage. Our back line needs to avoid an early yellow.
 

rguilmar

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That’s a pretty strong Colombia team too. Should be a fun game to watch. Hope that we get to see Asprilla and Duran in the second half a bit too.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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I’m torn on this. This is my preferred starting 11 but I was actually hoping for more experimentation with the friendlies. Like Weah at RB or 3 CBs or something.
What I like about it is that it’s an experiment with only two variables, which means relatively easier to see what effect Scally and Johnny are actually having.

As opposed to “we make five changes and roll out the back three and play someone out of position” which is always more intriguing in theory but then is like “surprise, they look disjointed doing a thing they usually don’t do”.
 

rguilmar

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What I like about it is that it’s an experiment with only two variables, which means relatively easier to see what effect Scally and Johnny are actually having.

As opposed to “we make five changes and roll out the back three and play someone out of position” which is always more intriguing in theory but then is like “surprise, they look disjointed doing a thing they usually don’t do”.
This is fair
 

67YAZ

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Good cross by Weah. He stayed I’ll width that time and let Scally hang back closer to Diaz.
 

speedracer

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dunno what Jedi is complaining about, that was poor risk/reward analysis on his part
 

67YAZ

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Two superlative finishes, but some poor organization allowed them to happen.
 

rguilmar

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these guys are so so so much quicker to reorganize in transition than we are.
In terms of on field talent, it’s pretty equal if not slightly in favor of the US. They are so much better in those transition moments, both attacking and defensive.