The US males’s nationwide team host Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday (7 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, TUDN) in each teams’ first friendly of 2021. As is the custom with these January camp video games, neither side will probably be at full energy as a result of this isn’t a FIFA-mandated international date. Groups will not be required to launch players, and thus in the event that they’re in season, they do not.
Meaning there’s even much less to be taught than within the typical friendly. It doesn’t imply, nevertheless, that there’s nothing to be taught. Simply as within the final three friendlies of 2020 — a scoreless draw at Wales adopted by full stompings of Panama and El Salvador — we will get a way of how head coach Gregg Berhalter needs his team to play, who’s exhibiting a capability to play that manner, who’s transferring up the pecking order within the combat for sports and so on.
1. The midfield form in possession
Since Berhalter’s taken over he is tinkered with the US’ midfield form a good bit. A few of that is primarily based upon the opponents, in that against weaker teams he is had the US in what I might think about to be a fairly aggressive 4-3-3 with twin attacking midfielders getting VERY superior and one lone regista tasked with each shuttling the ball from back-to-front and shielding the backline.
At different occasions — notably 12 months in the past vs. Costa Rica — it was extra of an asymmetrical 4-2-3-1 with one thing of a double pivot as one of many extra attacking midfielders (Sebastian Lletget on that day) dropped deeper for further soiled work. Three months in the past vs. Wales it was the acquainted 4-3-3, but additionally sort of completely different in that Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah appeared to have a extra egalitarian sharing of duties. 4 days after that against Panama, Adams was one thing near an old style destroyer whereas Musah and McKennie pushed greater.
It’s good and good to be versatile. Berhalter’s come up with seems which might be each distinctive but related whereas enjoying out of roughly the identical form. That portends a excessive level of in-game (and in-tournament) tactical flexibility.
2. Yueill pushing up
I am assuming we’ll see the “regista” model of Berhalter’s 4-3-3, and I am additionally assuming Jackson Yueill will get the start because the No. 6. He is performed that position a bunch over the previous two years for membership and country, and largely been superb. He’s a pure distributor and his work in shielding the backline has grown significantly.
He isn’t but, nevertheless, a pure presser. Berhalter requested him to do plenty of that within the win over El Salvador, to blended outcomes:
That compilation’s simply from the primary 20 minutes. You may see him profitable the ball and profitable fouls, and on the final clip, his urgent creates a goal. In between these, he was twice a half-step gradual, which might have became breakout alternatives against higher opponents.
This can be a very Adams-y manner to make use of the defensive midfielder — Adams is the best urgent player within the pool and one of many best on the planet. He creates turnovers, and even for teams closely invested in positional play (because the USMNT underneath Berhalter are), turnovers are the lifeblood of the trendy recreation.
Yueill is rarely going to be Adams in that part of the sport, however he is improved a bunch since early 2019. It looks like he’ll have to enhance much more if he’ll solidify his spot within the d-mid pecking order.
3. Daryl Dike, make your case
Berhalter stated it last year: Jozy Altidore continues to be in all probability essentially the most gifted No. 9 within the pool. I don’t assume that evaluation is wrong.
He additionally stated Altidore’s fitness points have held him back, and that is clearly not wrong, both. Altidore is 31 now and spent most of 2020 trying like a shell of his former self to the point the place it wasn’t simply, “Is he going to be match sufficient to play 90 minutes?” It was, “Is he going to be match sufficient to make an precise run?” Very often the reply was no.
The excellent news from the US perspective is there’s instantly a glut of young, high-upside middle forwards vying for the job of Jozy’s successor*:
- Josh Sargent was the anointed one, and to be honest to him, his goals per 90 whereas with the US has been good (simply do not pay an excessive amount of consideration to who these goals have come against), however his goals per 90 for Werder Bremen has been abysmal.
- Nico Gioacchini debuted in that win over Panama with a brace, although he hasn’t precisely been lighting it up in Ligue 2.
- Sebastian Soto additionally debuted with a brace in that very same recreation. He scored for enjoyable within the Dutch second tier, however keep in mind it is the Dutch second tier (he is on his approach to Norwich within the Championship now, for what it is value).
- Matthew Hoppe burst onto the scene this month with 5 goals in three video games for Schalke. He is but to make an look for the US at any level, and it isn’t precisely clear his scorching streak will proceed.
- Ayo Akinola burst onto the scene last summer time with a hat-trick against D.C. United, then simply saved scoring — together with a goal in his debut for the US last month. This month he occurs to be with the Canadian males’s nationwide team.
(*) Calling any of those guys “Jozy’s successor” is a little bit of Gyasi Zardes erasure, however I do assume it is cheap to hope a number of of those guys finally ends up being a greater USMNT No. 9 than Zardes.
The sixth member of this group is young Daryl Dike, who was very good for Orlando City last year and is in his maiden voyage as a nationwide teamer. It is a good guess he’ll get at the very least 30 minutes, although I might hit the “over” for those who needed to slap the road there. The opposite guys have all made compelling circumstances in a technique or one other, and now it is Dike’s chance to do the identical.