June 26, 2022


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Distribution of players on the roster pays off for both USMNT and Berhalter in the victory over Morocco before the World Cup

Distribution of players on the roster pays off for both USMNT and Berhalter in the victory over Morocco before the World Cup

Cincinnati – With less than six months to go before the World Cup kicks off, Wednesday’s friendly against Morocco was the perfect time for US men’s national team manager Greg Berhalter to venture a bit into the crazy chemist’s position in terms of roles and staffing. There are times when such experiences can explode in a manager’s face. But on this occasion, Berhalter’s adjustments largely paid off in a 3-0 win.

With the friendlies still going on, this is a great victory for the United States considering that Morocco is also heading into the World Cup. This wasn’t the case where the Atlas Lions were giving a weak side either. While no longer in favor of the forward Hakim Ziyech Missed, nine of the 11 players on the TQL Stadium played in the final match of the World Cup qualifiers for Morocco, and one relative starter was Azzedine Unahi, who scored twice in the 4-1 return leg over the match-defining DR Congo. A ticket to Qatar.

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There have been questions about how the US would handle such a discount given its heavy schedule in the CONCACAF region – largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and participation in official competitions – over the past two and a half years. But even amid some difficult moments of transition and Morocco’s susceptibility to turning point of attack, the United States was the better side of the night, and deserved its victory.

Having said that, winning should be put into context. She was still friendly and the result would mean nothing in November. Only football fanatics remember the 1-1 draw with France before the 2018 World Cup Why Bleus It ended up winning. This game is a means to an end in terms of preparation, and nothing more.

“It felt like the group came out and showed exactly how we can be good but at times vulnerable,” Berhalter said. “For us, I think we are very happy with the result. We still know we need to keep improving, which is why this match was very good for us.”

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To this end, Berhalter amendments have included Brendan Aronson It is deployed at the center of the midfield rather than its usual position on the wing. The new Leeds United midfielder was instrumental on both sides of the ball, scoring the first American goal in the 26th minute and getting some timely tackles too. With FIFA possibly deciding to expand the World Cup roster to 26 players, versatility may not be as important as it once was, but it’s still valuable, and the fact that Aaronson looked as comfortable in the middle as he did on the wing. It bodes well given the additional tactical wrinkles Berhalter can throw at opponents.

With Aaronson in the middle, Younes Musa Fell a little deeper in the backing Tyler Adams. Christian Pulisic She found a wide, deep space to collect the ball and then cut it central, and the US created some solid chances as a result.

“We wanted to use [Pulisic] And the [Aaronson] in those situations to really hurt the opponent and then there are still three guys in the back line who can run behind them and keep the [back] Berhalter said five of them are attached to the back.

The center of the beginning of the conjugation heart of Aaron Long And the Walker Zimmerman It also seemed solid, putting out some fires, and Cameron Carter Vickers He was also instrumental when he came in in the first half. He walked a long distance and seemed a lot of movement, which is a concern given his return from surgery last year to repair his Achilles tendon. They showed they could contribute in attack too, with Zimmermann’s lofty ball setting the table for Pulisic to lift Aaronson.

Zimmerman said it was a combination of chemistry and eye contact that allowed the play to unfold.

“I touch; I look up to see in the field what my options are. I see [Pulisic] Look at me and change my pace, and immediately I put my head down to hit him hard. “It’s one of those things that you have to constantly work on your chemistry and I think we have a good feeling for each other in that regard.”

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When Timothy Weah The American team doubled their lead six minutes later with a blast from distance after nine consecutive passes, the Americans were on their way. Berhalter even found time to deliver the defender’s international debut Joe Scully (on the left tonight), forward Hajji Wright And a 20-year-old midfielder Malik Tillmanwho had not set foot in the United States before this camp and changed his international affiliation from Germany.

But for all modifications, Pulisic remains the focal point of the American offensive. He did a lot of the heavy lifting on the first goal by deftly collecting a Zimmermann pass, dodging two Moroccan defenders in play, and with the goalkeeper committed to him, squared the ball to Aaronson to finish in an open net. The assist was the tenth of his international career, which allowed him to reach double figures in goals and make 49 appearances, faster than any other American man. (Landon Donovan has done so in 50 games.)

When asked how difficult it was to implement a touch like that, Pulisic insisted it wasn’t a big deal.

He said, “I guess it might not be easy for you guys, but that’s what I’ve done since then… I’ve been training for this my whole life.” “It’s a touch I expect to make but yeah, maybe not for everyone.”

Berhalter was more open.

“The players’ ability to control the ball at high speed and change direction at high speed with the ball is what separates the players at the next level, and Christian definitely has that,” Berhalter said.

Pulisic’s other noteworthy contribution that night was handing the ball to former young international teammate Wright after Pulisic took a hip check. Ashraf Hakimi He was awarded a penalty in the 61st minute. Pulisic said he was just trying to give Wright “a little bit of confidence”, but that gesture was appreciated.

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“I asked him to, and he gave me the opportunity to score my first goal, in my first game, and that feels really great,” Wright said.

The night was not without her fears. The United States looked weak on the wings, especially when Morocco used long diagonal passes to switch the attacking point. This led to them appearing outside Reggie Cannon And the Anthony Robinson Being isolated and forcing the central defender to make tough choices with help arriving late. With a better achievement, Morocco could have been the first hit.

“It was about how fast we can shoot the winger,” Berhalter said. “In the first half, Hakimi had a lot of time on the ball and Anthony was a little behind on the shot, and I think sometimes the back line was too deep, he gave the opponent a lot of space and in the physical fights, I think sometimes we controlled our defence, and Aaron [Long] He’s a quality player and I think he’s going to use this as a learning experience because he’s been a good opponent, a good striker, and the player has scored a lot of goals this year. It was really physical but for us it was about defending the team. Pressing the ball makes it easier for the central defender.”

The attackers’ play continues to gain attention. Berhalter was pleased with Wright’s performance and the start Jesus FerraraCalling Ferreira a “pressing machine” praising Wright’s ability to be involved in the attack, though his introduction coincided with a period. When Morocco tried to get back into the game. But both players failed to turn a few glaring looks at the goal from open play, and continued in the direction of the American forwards doing the little things but not the biggest thing.

But Wednesday’s match was the first step in preparation. Sunday’s showdown against Uruguay in Kansas City, KS, will reveal how far the team has progressed, and how much Berhalter continues to experiment.