OT: USMNT September Friendlies and Pre-World Cup Window

A 26-man roster was released today for the final World Cup warm up friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia next week. The final WC roster is also limited to 26, so although Berhalter could have called more for this window, I expect there are only a few spots that haven't been booked yet and only a few players in contention for those spots. I think last week Berhalter said that "85% of the roster is basically decided."

(For me) Surprising decisions are Aaron Long over James Sands and Tim Ream (been playing very well for Fulham so far this season), Pepi over Jordan Pefok and Brandon Vazquez. My only thought with Pefok is that maybe he's just the fallback option if Pepi can't find form between now and November. We basically know what we're getting from Pefok - he's a great poacher but basically doesn't do anything else we ask from our strikers at a high level. Assuming Ferreira is our starter and Sargent is the direct backup, I would personally bring Pefok as a change of pace even if Pepi does find form, but it doesn't seem like Berhalter agrees.

Edit: Quote from Berhalter re: above paragraph

Keep in mind that Steffen, Weah, and A. Robinson are all injured but should be back by November and are basically assured spots on the roster, so 1 GK (Horvath/Johnson), 1 FB (Yedlin/Cannon/Scally), and 1 winger (Arriola/Morris) on this roster probably won't make it.

Japan v. USA - Friday Sept. 23, 8:26 AM, Dusseldorf, Germany, ESPN2, Unimas, TUDN
Saudi Arabia v. USA - Tuesday Sept. 27, 2:00 PM, Murcia, Spain, FS1, Unimas, TUDN

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Comments

I think the "official" reveal of the World Cup kits is tomorrow morning. Assuming it won't be any different than what's already been leaked.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

If those are the real kits...

pics of the leaked kits?

https://www.footyheadlines.com/2021/11/usa-2022-home-kit.html

These are NOT the kits, just the training jersey:

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Obviously, we'll probably see the real ones tomorrow. But players (McKennie, Weah) seemed to confirm on Twitter that they weren't exactly pleased with the real kits, which leads me to believe that the leaked ones are, sadly, real.

There's a push for centered crests. Puma started last year with their third kits...

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Puma third kits were mostly bad but I don't think it was because of the center crest. That I don't mind, I just wish they had done something more than a warm up shirt for the actual kits. The white one looks like an early draft that someone forgot about and didn't finish in time.

White one is tolerable, blue kit is down right a big pile of bear shit.

The sooner we can leave Nike in the garbage where they belong the better, the kits they produce these days are steaming crap. Adidas has come out with some drool worthy kits this year which make it even more annoying how poor Nike did here.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Nike hates USMNT as much as they hate us, confirmed

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

Logical extrapolation: hating the Hokies is un-American.

If you want the Mexico ones- not the US- they are in Dicks in Columbia, MD.


Trying to find an old school Waldo one, in generous size, and not a katrillion dollars. Guess that's why I don't have one yet...

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

The Mexico kits are awesome. Adidas absolutely killed all their WC kits while Nike...did not.

Not at all surprising. Adidas is very much a soccer brand while Nike, not so much.


But don't tell Nike that. With their EPL ball contract, they think they are the bees knees.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Yup, the leak was spot on. Meh.

I just want a style or theme that's consistent. When you see all white, you know it's England. Or the yellow it's Brazil. When you see us you have no idea who it is from year to year.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Yahoo article on the release of the kits and player/fan reaction

LINK

Long before Nike's Thursday release of the U.S. men's national team's 2022 World Cup kits, and even before the jerseys leaked last month, some USMNT players got to glimpse and even model the threads they'll wear in November โ€” and Weston McKennie, midfielder and fashion aficionado, "tried to tell them."

"Them" was presumably Nike and U.S. Soccer. Players, Tim Weah said, were "just as angry" as fans now are. But by then, they had no recourse.

I mean it looks like something out of the VS catalog for Sunday tailgating, not our National identity on a world stage. Nike needs to stop trying to be hip/young/fresh/edgy and just make the Waldo kit our standard.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Proud of Nike for using colors similar to the United States flag. That's a statement in and of itself.

The Waldo jersey above isn't real...
And the real blue one, I'm not sure that's an acurate blue, and where in the eff did the black come from?!

And "similar" doesn't cut it. That's like saying we should use Texas orange in VT jerseys. Either use the real colors or step aside some an adult can do the job. The kits have been a complete joke for nearly a decade.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Yep- my point- maroon, light blue, black are not the US colors. Nike does that nonsense all the time. They changed Michigans blue color that stood for 200 years. They changed the Washington Football team burgundy this year.

Time to go ahead and make the change to adidas

I contend the 08-09 home shirt was the last GOOD one. Beauty, of course, being in the eye of the beholder.

The 2017 Gold Cup alternate Waldos are the best we've ever had. Should alternate those with the Waldos as our standard home/away.

This is the right take. Those were excellent enough for me to actually buy one. Those, the original Waldos, or even the Bomb Pop jerseys would be fine.

Then you take the same design and you can do all-white with some subtle lines (see 08-09, 10-11, 14-15 homes above) and suddenly you have a team identity. Since jerseys with horizontal hoops reminiscent of the flag are our best ones, make them our identity.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

ugh, and blue socks for both kits...which doesn't appear to be different blues.

The away blue jerseys look like a travel baseball team.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Nike's England kits are gross too. I hate Nike

Onward and upward

Wow, most are trbl this year.
Puma has this for their stable:

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

I would take the red away kit as the USMNT away kit...

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

I thought England's kits for the last WC were HOT!! These ones fall flat, IMO

Onward and upward

Utterly shameful to not include Vasquez. Otherwise, these jerseys are so bland, it's like the federation asked Nike to travel to a part of the country that doesn't use seasoning: Ohio.

This explains why we had so many friendlies and matches in Ohio this year.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

I certainly would have brought him just to see how he does, but I don't know about shameful. They didn't want to bring 4 strikers as there aren't enough minutes to get them all a real look in just two games.

I think if Sargent hadn't turned it on in the last few week Vazquez would have made it.

These 2 games are also in Germany and Spain. Easier to get the guys that are actually on a break (Euro clubs) and more local than not on a break (MLS) and flying overseas.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

I'm interested to see how Berhalter incorporates Reyna back into the squad as well as what Aaronson's role is on this team. I'd think one of them gets Weah's minutes at winger for this camp, but going forward it's a bit of an issue that the best position for two of our best attackers doesn't really exist in GGG's preferred formation. Both are ideal when playing centrally (as a 10), but will likely get shoe-horned in on the wing. Unless Reyna kicks out Musah as the starting 8.

Fair point and certainly they will not all be able to start. But, both Reyna and Aaronson have played mostly wing for US with success. And Reyna plays on the wing frequently for Dortmund as well as midfield. So I don't think it's a huge concern. I do think it would be beneficial to replace Musah with one of them for opponents in a low block, so it will be interesting to see if we try that for one of these friendlies.

In non-kit news, looks like Yunus Musah will be staying with his club (Valencia) due to a slight, non-serious injury. In his place, Berhalter has called up Johnny Cardoso, a Brazilian-American who plays for Internacional in Brazil. A few years ago there were some rumors that clubs like Marseille wanted to buy him, but he probably wasn't really good enough back then. According to some people I follow on Twitter, he's been in great form the last couple months.

He has a couple appearances for the senior USMNT in some friendlies, as recently as last December v. Bosnia. Don't think it's super likely that he makes the final squad unless another injury happens closer to November, but we are a little thin in midfield so anything is possible.

Sucks that Musah is missing camp though.

I follow a lot of Tactical Manager and while he has some hot takes, I generally rate players similarly to him, and he's been high on Cardoso. I agree he doesn't make the final squad; our midfield depth is deceiving because of Aaronson and Reyna being listed as wingers.

Sucks for Musah because he's finding better form this season now that he's a consistent starter in midfield for Valencia. Though now I'm even more on the train of giving Reyna and/or Aaronson midfield minutes now with Musah out for this camp.

Berhalter has rarely brought more than 5 midfielders in a squad and as you said, Reyna and Aaronson are both capable of cover. I wonder if Berhalter will "save" the Reyna midfield wrinkle for the World Cup

I hope not - while he plays as a 10 for his club, he hasn't played in midfield for the USMNT. Don't think we can risk him playing a new position for country in the World Cup just for the "surprise" factor. He's played as a winger before for the USMNT, so he knows what to expect there. These friendlies are the last chance for him to gain any familiarity playing centrally if we're ever going to see it happen.

I dunno. Either way I don't think his role will be that different. He's going to work in the inside right channel no matter what. He's played extensively with the other players and I'm sure he's played there in training. I don't think it's going to be plan A anyway

Happened several days ago, but there were two more injury replacements, both at CB. Carter-Vickers picked up and injury in Champions League and Chris Richards got a slight injury as well (must've been in training with Palace) so they're being replaced with Erik Palmer-Brown and Mark McKenzie.

Have to say I'm surprised at both of those players ahead of Sands who's been playing well for Rangers. For the all the talk about Striker, I'm not sure that CB isn't a bigger issue. The Miles Robinson injury really hurt us, we don't have anyone to partner with Zimmerman who's been playing consistently at a high level for club and has significant experience with the NT except Aaron Long pre-injury.

You all have heard me repeatedly about Gregg and his system...
And heard me about having a style in the US. A true something that we can play with...that's a goal in the future.
Right now, we have a lot of good players coming together to wear the same jersey.
This sums up how I feel completely. Not fully about Pefok, but in general about his approach.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

I think he's shown he will change his system. What we're doing now is different from what we did at the start of his tenure.

In this instance, changing the system to fit Jordan's skillset would go against the strength of the rest of the team. Jordan has excelled this season at Union playing as one of two strikers up top. Do we really want to shift to a formation that takes away one of our wingers, or midfielders to play two forwards? Maybe you go three in the back, but then you're either taking away Antonee/Dest, or one of the wingers. Maybe it's something to play with post-World Cup, but I think we're playing the best system for our roster overall, and not just one of the players who happens to be excelling right now.

I think he's shown he will change his system.

Have to hard disagree. If he changed his system, guys wouldn't be playing different positions that what they train to play 85-90% of the time w their club. And he would have a completely different line up for every single game we play. I don't thinknhe duplicated lineup/formation yet since he took over. Put the best players on the pitch and don't make them conform to his system. We'll see at 8:27 tomorrow, but I feel like it will be the same ol same ol.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

You have to have A system, though. It's not FIFA. You can't just play a different formation every game with a roster you have for a week and a half every other month. He is playing the best players for the most part. You could argue Jordan is the best striker right now, but it's not like he's a clear cut above the others. He hasn't looked great when he has played with the national team, and his style doesn't mesh with what's been working with the rest of the roster.

guys wouldn't be playing different positions that what they train to play 85-90% of the time w their club

Who is he playing out of position?

I feel like it will be the same ol same ol.

Of course it will be what we've seen for the last year, or two. It's what's been working.

This article talks a little bit about his changes up through last year:
https://www.starsandstripesfc.com/usmnt-news/2021/2/19/22277463/two-year...

You don't change your system to accommodate one player unless that player is world class. Pefok may be in the best goal scoring form right now, but he is at best marginally better than our other options (who are also playing well right now!) The system generally fits will with the rest of our players so it makes no sense to completely change that to fit a striker instead of playing an option that fits very well and, again, is also playing very well right now.

To be clear, I am on record saying I believe Pefok should be on the roster. But he represents Plan B, break glass in case of emergency (system isn't working). And in that case, you slightly change the plan of attack. And I believe there is still a chance of that happening. But regardless, I don't believe he should be the starter.

I don't think I made my pov clear...although I've been critical of Gregg for a long time on here...

I'm not saying completely blow up the system for one player. I'm saying message it for the players you have...while selecting the best players you can. What Gregg has done is selected a system...the 4-3-2-1 or whatever he wants to tinker with that week, but mostly it's the 4 in the back, 3 mids holding, and one tall up top. Then pick players for that alignment. He loves the flying right back, which shouldn't be called a back at all because they only line up there for the kickoffs and spend the remaining 90+ minutes taller than the right mid. Which leads me to the main problem. While he got lucky that Dest sort of plays that in Euro football, Gregg gets his wish when playing him there. Great for those TWO people. Meanwhile, the centerbacks don't play that system. They've gone 25-30 years of their lives having a right back, gasp, actually play right back. They are used to having the ball come down that side an have support. Now, it's who ever is playing right mid escorting them for 30 yards back to the corner of the box and you better hope that your left back has his wits because the ball is coming across. Gregg's "system" turns into 3 at the back with others supporting in roles that none of them have been playing.

How many goals has the flying right back given us? What has it meant, what's the value of it? Game winners? On the flip, what has it cost? How many counters have we given up? How much energy has been spent on covering for the right flyer that isn't there. How many times has it caused additional issues.

Gregg is committed to this system. Basically for one player. It's worked in his favor because he had a player that can play it. One. The rest of the team has to adjust for this and play in a different system than what these 10 are used to playing.

While you say don't change it for one player, he's playing it for one player. And I'm not saying change it for one player (Pefok). I'm saying put the best players on the field, and if that means 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1 or however our best sort out, play that way.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Japans first goal proves my point/complaint about Dest. When McKinnie turns to pass the ball back, Dest is sprinting up the right side and is across the 50 when the ball is intercepted. When the pass is made to the attacker in the box, he's 35 from the goal line. The other 3 defenders were in the proper position for playing 4 at the back...with anticipation that the right back would be THERE to play defense in the position he's supposed to be in. He wasn't.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

But that's how right/left backs play. They just sit in a flat back four all the time. Our left back will do the same thing, unless it's someone like Ream in a de facto back three. Dest moves forward when McKennie has the ball, because we're transitioning to offense, and he shouldn't lose the ball in that moment. The full backs provide width on the overlap when in attack, and the wingers play in the half-space between them, and the striker. In defense they'll come back and create that back four, but it's not a set position all the time.

In defense they'll come back and create that back four

That's not how it actually plays out....we almost NEVER have 4 in the back in the field of play unless there's a throw in or corner. And our left backs don't wander forward like the right. That's Gregg's entire system. They don't get back in time. They don't actually play in the defensive position.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

In the entirety of the second half today the left back (Vines) was playing as essentially a winger in possession with the right back (Cannon) tucked in as a third center back.

Full backs move up and down the field a lot. In games where we have a lot of possession, like most of our qualifying games, they're going to spend a lot of time up the field. If we turn the ball over, they're not just going to magically be back with the center backs. It's like basketball. There are transition phases.

I don't think Berhalter is faultless, but this is not, like, some crazy thing he's doing tactically.

Let's try this to explain what I'm trying to say. System is a bigger term then the formation.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

I guess that's fair with respect to the CBs, but I think the system fits most of the wingers, midfield, and fullbacks. At least the starters. Is there a perfect system that fits all of our best players? Unless you're a Spain where all of your top players are at one/two clubs, I don't know how realistic that is.

Gonna wake up. Eat some pizza and watch team usa hopefully win

I must have read a thousand faces
I must have robbed them of their cause
Sickened thirst, Sickened thirst
Keeps it together
Soft white glow in the cranium
A bullseye made sedated

Pulisic misses today with a knock. Plan to play him in the next match.

Omg all my teams are garbage ๐Ÿ˜ญ

I must have read a thousand faces
I must have robbed them of their cause
Sickened thirst, Sickened thirst
Keeps it together
Soft white glow in the cranium
A bullseye made sedated

"That's a painful way to take your breakfast..."
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Not even day old pizza could make me feel better ๐Ÿ˜ฐ

I must have read a thousand faces
I must have robbed them of their cause
Sickened thirst, Sickened thirst
Keeps it together
Soft white glow in the cranium
A bullseye made sedated

Not a good game all around - only bright spot was Turner seems to still be sharp even though he's riding the bench at Arsenal.

Hats off to Japan, they clogged up the midfield and dared our CBs to try to play through them. We've got issues with personnel and tactics going into Qatar.

Well Turner was good!

Everyone else...yikes

This team will go 0-2-1 in the group stage. Berhalter will be fired after he wastes one of our more talented teams. There are a lot more qualified coaches out there.

I'm not saying by any means that's we'll definitely beat them...but England looked awful today as well and I'm sure all our guys will be up for that one.

Let's see how they adjust and respond for the next game. If they have another stinker against Saudi Arabia, then it's probably time to panic.

England got off 14 shots, w 4 on target. The US managed 4 shots and ZERO on target today. If England looked awful, we looked like 100 year old zombies.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Let's see what Gregg cooks up today for the boys.

This makes me laugh.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Starters named so far for today are Pulisic and Pepi. Would expect some new faces at spots that are still up for grabs (CB, LB) as well.

Long starting again, Acosta as an 8, Dest at LB?

Nevermind, FOOTMOB had it wrong.

GGRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Yeah man, I've sort of defended him for a while. And hopefully they figure it out for the World Cup. But, it's looking bad right now. I'm pretty much all the way out on GreggBall.

This is our least dress rehearsal prior to the real deal. And he's swapping positions, making subs at the 30 minute mark, and generally being Gregg. Never mind his record off US soil... I'll be watching, and rooting for our guys, but my hopes aren't real high right now. I do get to watch the Wales game on my birthday, so there's that I guess.

"This year... they've played four times outside the U.S., not won and only scored one goal, which was a 91st-minute equalizer in El Salvador."

https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/gregg-berhalter-s-system-positional-play-why-canada-are-better-than-the-usmnt-ri

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Re: the 30 minute substitution, that was (unfortunately) due to a Reyna injury. He said it was precautionary.

Give another guy some touches at the beginning then...
He's so stuck on certain players that what he does is head scratching.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

21 crosses with 2 completed.
Gregg comes out and says "these are nervy times...we're playing tentative..."

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

This team looks as bad as tech football rn and I don't like it

I must have read a thousand faces
I must have robbed them of their cause
Sickened thirst, Sickened thirst
Keeps it together
Soft white glow in the cranium
A bullseye made sedated

Pefok has to be on the plane. At this point, I just don't care about the system. I care about goals.

Go Hokies!

Agree, but it won't even matter if they can't fix the buildup issues. Pefok can't score if they don't create chances, and the attack was terrible after Reyna went off. I like Pefok, but he's not going to magically fix the attack

They look like ass. Can easily see them going winless in WC. On the bright side of if/when they go winless, maybe they'll finally wake up and fire Berhalter.

Yes, Gregg has a certain system he is trying to make work for this team. No, he is not able to adjust at all.
Take a look at "USMNT Only" Instagram page. He's forcing a system.
https://www.instagram.com/usmntonly/?hl=en

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank