Indiana University is looking for its 9th NCAA Title as they head to their 2nd consecutive College Cup this Friday night at 10:30 pm vs #11 Seed Maryland on ESPNU. The Hoosiers (20-2-1) are ranked #1 in the polls and are the #2 seed coming in. Three of the Final 4 are Big Ten teams as Akron will face Michigan State in the other semi-final on ESPNU. Akron knocked off top seeded Wake Forest and 3 time National Champ Stanford in the Elite 8. The Title game, which IU reached last season, is set for Sunday at 8 pm in Santa Barbara, CA on ESPNU. You can bet our own Director of Soccer Operations Juergen Sommer, a former National Champion and National Player of the Year at IU, will be watching! Good luck Hoosiers!
So this Saturday night on FOX at 8 pm – Atlanta United will host the 2016 MLS Champions the Portland Timbers. Again at least on one side the MLS Playoffs were spectacular as visiting Portland Timbers scored 3 goals – 2 in the last 20 minutes to beat Kansas City in front of a standing room only boisterous crowd Sunday evening on Fox Sports in the Western Conference Finals. I know the rest of the country was watching NFL – but man this game was spectacular as after not scoring a goal in the first round home game – the Portland Timbers reached deep and defeated Sporting KC – with lightening fast counter attacks and 2 goals by their MVP Diego Valeri. Portland had the 1 goal lead 2-1 as KC threw everything at them in the last 15 minutes and an amazing 15 minutes of extra time looking for the equalizer before Portland scored the 3rd late goal to put it away in the last 2 minutes of overtime. Of course Atlanta dominated the Support Shield holder NY Red Bulls 3-0 at home as they will host the MLS cup in just their 2nd season in the League. This is quickest an MLS expansion team has made the finals. – and you can look for over 75,000 fans to be on hand in Atlanta as United looks to become the quickest expansion team to win an MLS title.
So the US National Team finally made it official – what we all knew was coming that Columbus Crew head coach, and former US National team defender Gregg Berhalter has been named our next US Manager. I have no problem with Berhalter – he becomes the first former National Team player to play in a World Cup to also manage the team so he obviously understands what it means to represent the crest. He’s a good young but proven coach who has had a good amount of success at the Columbus Crew. At Columbus he consistently took teams with less money, less talent and honestly a rather apathetic fan base because of ownership issues and he took them deep in the playoffs many of his 5 years there. He took Columbus to the 2015 MLS Final (that I attended) and fell late to Toronto in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017. Now he’s only been an MLS head coach for 5 years – so not the most experienced coach – but I think his experience as a former US player should help. Remember he was the one who should have scored a goal vs Germany in 2002 when they cheated and German defender Torsten Frings handled the ball on the line – it wasn’t called allowing Germany to beat us 1-0 in the Quarterfinals. He also helped shutout Mexico in that World Cup – 1 of 2 that he played in.
Listen I don’t think this is a bad hire. We have a very young team – and this next coach is not about reeling in egos of superstars – we really have NO Superstars on the US team at this point. No one consistently starring in Europe, no one that would be considered a top level star in the sport. With this team – we need a builder, a coach who can find the right guys, teach them the way we want to play and build this team from the ground up. I would say that is exactly what Berhalter has done at Columbus and its hopefully what he will do for the US Men’s National Team. Anyone who has seen the Crew play knows Berhalter plays a possession style of play that is entertaining to watch – and he always gets the most out of his players. It will certainly be interesting to see how this works out, but despite the delay in hiring a new coach and taking well over a year after failing to qualify for the World Cup to hire a new coach – I am comfortable with Ernie Stewart as GM and Berhalter as our new coach. 2019 should be an interesting year for US soccer – as we look to basically start over in preparation for hosting the World Cup in 2026 and hopefully making the field in 2022.
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What to Watch 4
On top of the College Cup Friday night at 10:30 pm on ESPNU featuring IU, and MLS Cup on Saturday night 8 pm on Fox – we have some other big games on tap this weekend and week as Champions League returns Tues/Wed of this week and Man City travels to Chelsea on Sat at 12:30 pm on NBC and Leicester City vs Tottenham at 2:45 pm on NBCSN., and American’s McKennie and Pulisic match up as Schalke hosts Dortmund at 9:30 am on FS1 Sat.
IU Wins to go to Record 20th College Cup – Indy Star Kevin Johnston
IU Readies for College Cup in Soccer – Indiana Daily Student
New US Coach Humbled – Wants to Get to Work – ESPNFC Noah Davis
Berhalter Aiming for Distinct Style for US Team – Dylan Butler MLS.com
GAMES ON TV
Fri, Dec 8
2:30 pm ESPN2 Juventus vs Inter
8 pm ESPNU Mich State vs Akron College Cup
10:30 pm ESPNU Indiana U vs Maryland College Cup
Sat, Dec 8
7:30 am NBCSN Liverpool vs AFC Bournemouth
9:30 Fox Sp1 Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Schalke (Mkkinney)
10 am NBCSN Man United vs Fulham (Ream)
10 am CNBC Arsenal vs Huddersfield
12:30 pm NBC Chelsea vs Man City
2:30 bein Sport Real Madrid vs Valencia
8 pm FOX MLS CUP Atlanta United vs Portland Timbers
Sun, Dec 9
7 am NBCSN Chelsea vs Fulham (Ream)
9 am FS1 RB Leipzig vs Brussia Mgladbach
9:05 am NBCSN Newcastle United (Yedlin) vs Wolverhampton
Tues Dec 11 Champs League
1 pm TNT Schalke (McKinney) vs Locomotiv Moskav
3 pm TNT Barcelona vs Tottenham
3 pm Uni Desp Liverpool vs Napoli
3pm Uni Desp Monaco vs Dortmund (Pulisic)
3pm Uni Desp Zvezda vs PSG
Weds Dec 12 Champs League
1 pm TNT Real Madrid vs CSKA Moskva
3pm TNT Valencia vs Man United
3 pm Univision OL Ajax vs Bayern Munich
3 pm Uni Desp Young Boys vs Juventus
Sat, Dec 15
7:30 am NBCSN Man City vs Everton
12:30 pm NBCSN? Fulham vs West Ham United
12:30 Fox Sp 2 Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Werder Breman
Sun, Dec 16
8;30 am NBCSN Brighton vs Chelsea
9 am FS1 RB Leipzig vs Mainz
8:30 am CNBC? Southhampton vs Arsenal
11 am NBCSN Liverpool vs Man United
12:30 pm beIN Sport Barcelona vs Villarreal
All or Nothing as Indiana Men Aim for Ninth NCAA Title
By Pete DiPrimioIUHoosiers.com
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Andrew Gutman throws down the verbal gauntlet. Indiana won’t play for second or we-did-our-best perspective.It’s all or nothing. Win a national soccer championship, or live with regret. Nothing else is good enough.
“We’ve got to win it,” the Hoosiers senior defender said. “This is great, getting to the College Cup, but we haven’t done anything yet. This is our last chance, and we’ve got to win it and make up for last year.”Gutman referred to last season’s national runner-up finish, when the Hoosiers lost to Stanford in overtime in the title game.
IU (20-2-1) arrives in Santa Barbara, Calif. with a target on their backs. The Hoosiers are ranked No. 1 in the polls, and are the No 2 seed in the tourney. They will face No. 11 seed Maryland (11-6-4) in a Friday semifinal. The start is set for 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Akron (14-6-2) will play Michigan State (14-4-4) in the other semifinal. Akron upset top-seed Wake Forest, which beat the Hoosiers in the season opener, in the third round, then followed that by beating three-time national champ Stanford 3-2 in the Elite Eight.The title game is set for Sunday at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Indiana and Maryland have played a pair of nail-biters this season, with the Hoosiers getting the best of the Terrapins on both occasions. They won 2-1 in mid-October at Armstrong Stadium, and advanced in a PK shootout in the Big Ten tourney semifinals.”We’re excited for it,” senior midfielder Austin Panchot says. “We’re confident. We know what we’re getting.”Coach Todd Yeagley certainly does. He has led the Hoosiers to two prior College Cups, last season and in 2012, when IU won its eighth and last national championship. Only St. Louis, with 10 national titles, but none since 1973, has won more.
Yeagley’s father, Jerry, is the winningest college soccer coach in history. That includes 16 College Cups and 12 national title games, with six national championships.Jerry Yeagley remains a fixture at practice and at games, and you’d better believe Todd seeks his input.
My father has been my mentor. We talk about all things related to life and soccer.
“When we made the first College Cup in 2012, very clearly he said stay on the course. Don’t change what you’re doing. Shorten things.”Those advice moments from someone you have ultimate trust with gave me a lot of confidence to make those decisions and feel good about it. There’s no one who has been to more College Cups than he has. He learned some things from his early days that maybe he would have done differently. That’s valuable. I have the most successful coach at an instant if something should come up. That could help give us an advantage. We’ll certainly use that to our fullest.”The results show it. IU’s 20 victories are its most since winning 21 in 1999, a national title season. The Hoosiers have just five losses in the last three seasons. They have a nation’s best 752 victories since the program became a varsity sport in 1973.College soccer has never seen such sustained excellence over a five-decade span (no other program can match the 20 College Cups), with no end in sight. U recruits to that legacy. “It’s all about pushing it,” Yeagley says. “We ask that when we recruit players. You’re coming here to push an unbelievable program farther. Leave your mark. “This group has done that, and the story isn’t done yet. They’ve taken that challenge and gone with it. It’s a big responsibility. You look at all the success the program has had. It gives you sense a pride. The team feels that.”Win-it-all pressure doesn’t mean the Hoosiers won’t enjoy this experience. Yeagley pushes fun as much as focus. “You look at the success program has had,” he says, “and you see 20 College Cups. For being around this program forever, it means a lot. Each one is so hard to get to. So many things have to go right. We’re happy to experience another game.”IU was severely tested in Friday night’s 1-0 Elite Eight win over No. 7 seeded Notre Dame. That followed three straight dominant performances and could provide the edge needed this weekend. “This team finishes off plays,” Yeagley says. Indiana has by far the most College Cup experience of the remaining teams.Akron won the 2010 national title and was the 2009 national runner-up. It also made the College Cup in 2015 and last season. Maryland has three national runner-up finishes, the last in 2013, and 10 previous College Cup appearances. Michigan State was the national runner up in 1964 and ’65, and reached the College Cup in 1962 and ’66.
Warshaw: How Atlanta and Portland match up for 2018 MLS Cup
December 5, 20182:54PM ESTBobby Warshaw
It’s time to take a look at the 2018 MLS Cup matchup between Atlanta United and the Portland Timbers. For this exercise, we are going by pure talent. MLSsoccer.com will have plenty of articles dissecting tactical and stylistic advantages. I want to break it down by individual ability alone. Once we establish who holds the advantage in talent, then we can start to understand where the advantages may lie, and what deficits need to be fixed.Let’s assume the teams field the lineups they’ve used throughout the postseason:
The players in those lineups could be split into defenders, midfielders and attackers in various ways. Diego Valeri, for example, plays as an attacking center mid on offense but generally acts as a second striker on defense. There’s no perfect way to group them, but I’ve divided them into the following groups.
Atlanta: Escobar, Larentowicz, Parkhurst, LGP, Garza
Portland: Valentin, Mabiala, Ridgewell, Villafaña
Atlanta: Remedi, Gressel, Nagbe
Portland: Chara, Guzman, Valeri
Atlanta: Martinez, Almiron
Portland: Blanco, Polo, Ebobisse
My three criteria for goalkeepers:
- Who is more likely to make the saves he’s supposed to make: In this game, it’s Brad Guzan. Guzan hasn’t made many crazy saves this year, but he’s generally made the stops he needs to make.
- Who is more likely to make a huge mistake that will cost his team the game?Portland’s Jeff Attinella. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened recently when Attinella dropped a crossto gift Seattle’s Raul Ruidiaz a goal, and that memory can plant a dangerous tone of doubt in ‘keepers.
- Who is more likely to make the huge saves to win his team again? The Timbers’ No. 1 has had some huge games this year, including the second leg against Sporting Kansas Citylast week. If a team wins this game because a goalkeeper stands on his head, it will be Portland.
There’s more variance in Attinella’s game and he’s more likely to be the star of MLS Cup, but managers prefer predictability from their goalkeepers. If you had to put a name on a team sheet, you’d go with Guzan.
Michael Parkhurst was a finalist for Defender of the Year, yet Leandro Gonzalez Pirez might be the more talented of the two, and together they formed one of the two best center back pairings in the league. Franco Escobar was the star of the Conference Championship against the Red Bulls, and a fully fit Greg Garza should be considered one of the top five left backs in the league. Jeff Larentowicz might be considered the weak link, but he’s played like an All-Star at times this year.
Portland work well as a group, but I doubt any of them would make it into Atlanta’s starting lineup.
The answer is almost always Diego Chara and Diego Valeri.
Atlanta’s midfield has become a force in the last few weeks. Eric Remedi brings the bite, Darlington Nagbe offers the guile and Julian Gressel contributes the lungs. They’ve been tough to break down, quick on the break, and calm in possession when the moment has called for it. They dominated NYCFC’s group of high-end talent in the middle in the Conference Semifinals. In the next round, they had no problem with Tyler Adams and Co. But Valeri and Chara are two of the best midfielders of the last decade (plus the third guy, David Guzman, just played in a World Cup).
I’m sure Tata loves his midfield right now, but I’d bet if you gave him some truth serum, he’d slide into Chara and Valeri’s DMs.
If you were to create a list of the top attacking tandems in MLS history, Martinez and Almiron would be somewhere near the top: in the echelon with Marco Etcheverry/Roy Lassiter, Landon Donovan/Robbie Keane and Sebastian Giovinco/Jozy Altidore.
Jeremy Ebobisse has come a long way in 2018 and Sebastian Blanco has been marvelous this season — they certainly provide enough ability to win the game — but you’d pick the combo that could get sold for north of a combined $40 million this offseason.
Tito Villalba is by far the best sub in the league right now. Imagine dealing with Martinez and Almiron for 60 minutes and then a fresh Villalba comes waltzing on the field.
Also, it would probably be some type of poetic ending for Ezequiel Barco, the most expensive player in MLS history, to come on and provide the winner.
There are big personnel and tactical decisions to make heading into the game — there’s logic suggesting both teams should make adjustments — but I don’t think one coach is more equipped than the other.
Tata has more overall managerial experience, but Savarese has won three finals in the last five years. They’ve both made all of the right moves this year, specifically in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Atlanta United ranks among global elite in average match attendance
December 5, 20189:07AM ESTTom BogertContributor
Atlanta United have continued to turn heads with the attendance they draw and electric atmosphere they create at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Five Stripes already own an MLS record for total home attendance: 901,033 fans across 17 games this year. They’ve also got the top seven entries for MLS regular season single-game attendance, as well as own the top three spots for MLS postseason single-game attendance. Their attendance numbers resonate across the Atlantic Ocean, too. Below is where the club ranks in worldwide average attendance:
FC Schalke 04
West Ham United
Three positional battles that will decide MLS Cup 2018
These three positions will determine who lifts Lord Don’s Cup.
When it comes to soccer, the team whose players perform the best on the day usually end up winning. MLS Cup will likely be no different as Atlanta United and Portland Timbers feature talented players all over the field. It’s a good bet that whichever team’s stars show up on the day is the squad that will be standing at the celebration podium after all is said and done.Looking ahead to this big match, we’re highlighting three different positions on the field that will could prove decisive. While these players won’t necessarily be going head-to-head against each other, it’ll be important for them outplay the player in the corresponding position to give their team an edge. Here are three positional battles that will likely decide MLS Cup:
Eric Remedi vs. Diego Chara
In the modern game, defensive midfielder is arguably the most important position on the field. If a team has a bulldog in the midfield of the field who can close down the other team’s best players in the most dangerous parts of the field, they’ll win more often than not.Eric Remedi has been a revelation since his midseason arrival in the ATL. His work often doesn’t show up on the highlight reels like most great defensive midfielders, but he’s always in crucial spots making vital contributions. His ability to close down and stifle Portland’s two attacking stars in Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco will be key. You don’t have to look far to see how important that will be. Blanco’s unbelievable tie-changing goal against Sporting Kansas City was a direct result of midfielders not closing him down. Remedi and to a lesser extent Darlington Nagbe will have their hands full but will need to have great performances if Atlanta United is to win.
Diego Chara has been one of the best defensive midfielders in MLS for at least five years now. While he may not get the MLS Best XI recognition he deserves, many experts proclaim him to be the Timbers’ most important player even with the likes of Blanco and Valeri. Much like Remedi, he will be tasked with slowing down Miguel Almiron and even keeping tabs on Josef Martinez when he drops deep.
Both players are uber-aggressive and known to lunge into a tackle with no hesitation. An early yellow card to either could change the look of the whole match. It’s something to keep an eye on.
Discipline will be key in this high intensity final. Both teams feature hard-nosed centerbacks who will be looking to set the tone for the match. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez is at the top of his game so far in these playoffs. Atlanta will be hoping he has one more superhero-esque effort in him to bring the cup home. How the Argentine deals with the late runs from Blanco and Valeri will be just as important as how he and his partner Michael Parkhurst mark Portland’s striker.
Ridgewell’s 2018 season hasn’t gone very smoothly, with the veteran defender going as far as calling it “one of the worst seasons I’ve had in my playing career.” Despite being at odds with first-year manager Gio Savarese, Ridgewell finds himself back in favor in the crucial matches. Going against the best goal scorer the league has ever seen is the prize he wins for gaining his starting spot back. As with any Atlanta United match, how the opposing team deals with Josef Martinez will go a long way in deciding who wins. If the Venezuelan Viper is clicking on the day, it could be a long one for Ridgewell. But, if the Englishman succeeds in shutting Martinez down, he could turn the momentum in his side’s favor.
Miguel Almiron vs. Diego Valeri
It didn’t take too much imagination to come up with this one. Saying two of the most talent players this league has ever seen will have a huge impact on the result of this final is not a hot take whatsoever.Almiron and Valeri are their team’s most creative players and will be looking to unlock the other team’s shape. They each have their own style with Almiron more frantic and breakneck and Valeri calm and composed. The pace and style of the game could go a long way in determining which superstar has a bigger impact on the game.If Portland decide to sit back and absorb pressure, it may not be the type of game that Almiron can really put his fingerprints on. However, if it’s a more open affair that allows for Miggy to use his pace to create those odd-man counter-attacks by himself, it could play into his favor.The opposite could be said for Valeri who is better in the slower style of game where he has time in the attack to pick out a pass to breakdown the defense or to find space outside the penalty area for a chance at goal. If Portland have a negative mindset and Valeri is forced to run around and close down for the majority, it could frustrate him.These are the three battles we see deciding MLS Cup. Who do you think has the edge in each? Which other pairing did we miss or do you find important? Comment below.
MORE FROM DIRTY SOUTH SOCCER
- Report: Miguel Almiron likely to join Newcastle United in January
- Josef Martinez named 2018 MLS MVP
- Tactics Session: Atlanta United, Portland Timbers battle for MLS Cup
- Scouting the Portland Timbers’ Center Backs for MLS Cup Final
- MLS Cup Goals: a history
U.S. confirms Gregg Berhalter as manager after year-long search; what does this mean for the USMNT?
Dec 2, 2018Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent
The search for a new head coach for the U.S. men’s national team has finally reached its conclusion. It took only 13 months from the time that Bruce Arena resigned in the wake of the team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Given that timeframe, one might have expected GM Earnie Stewart and the rest of the U.S. Soccer Federation hierarchy to make a big splash. Instead, the USSF chose Gregg Berhalter to be the program’s 37th manager.Berhalter was long considered the front-runner, and the rather secretive approach the USSF took to arriving at his appointment has raised eyebrows, but now that he has been chosen, here’s what fans can expect from the former Columbus Crew manager.
After a year-long ‘search,’ is Berhalter the right hire?
In many ways, Berhalter is a safe pick. He comes from the U.S. soccer system and is a known quantity. He is unlikely to try to shake things up within the Fed in the way that Jurgen Klinsmann did. Berhalter’s record with Columbus (67-58-45 over five seasons) isn’t necessarily eye-catching, either. He didn’t win a single trophy while with the Crew, unlike competitors like Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes, RB Leipzig assistant Jesse Marsch (when he was with the New York Red Bulls), former FC Dallas manager Oscar Pareja or Toronto FC’s Greg Vanney.But looked at another way, Berhalter squeezed plenty out of a Crew side that had one of the lowest payrolls in MLS, making the playoffs in four of his five seasons in Columbus. His reputation as a teacher with an almost obsessive attention to tactical detail could serve him well given that he’s set to inherit a very young pool of players. There will be peaks and valleys, and it will require plenty of patience to navigate the team through those periods. The fact that he spent the bulk of his playing career overseas should give him a fair amount of street cred, as should his brief stint coaching overseas.When asked whether he thought Berhalter was the right choice, Atlanta United defender Michael Parkhurst, who spent three seasons in Columbus under Berhalter, said, “I don’t think there’s only one option. I think a few guys could have been great hires. But I think everyone respects Gregg tactically and what he can do on the field with a team and how organized he is. I think that everyone thinks he’s one of the best American coaches, and I agree.”If the plan was to bring in an American, then absolutely, I think he’s the right hire.”In terms of his background, Berhalter had a solid, if unspectacular, career as a player. He spent the bulk of it overseas, with his first professional stint coming in 1994 with Dutch side Zwolle, and later moving on to Sparta Rotterdam and Cambuur Leeuwarden. Berhalter then spent a solitary season with English side Crystal Palace. His longest spell came with German side Energie Cottbus, where he played for four seasons, helping them win promotion to the Bundesliga. He later moved to 1860 Munich before finishing his career in MLS with the LA Galaxy, winning the 2011 Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup double in his final season.At the international level, Berhalter made 44 appearances and was part of the U.S. roster at the 2002 and 2006 World Cup.After serving as a player/assistant with the Galaxy under Arena, Berhalter began his managerial career with Swedish side Hammarby prior to the 2012 campaign. He was fired midway through his second season with the club over concerns about the state of the team’s attack. He joined up with Columbus prior to the 2014 campaign.Berhalter’s first task will be overseeing the January camp, with two friendlies slated for late January and early February. At that point, the process of winning over the players will begin. Ultimately his decisions in terms of personnel, tactics and man management will be what carry the day. Suffice it to say, the mountain Berhalter is being asked to scale is plenty steep. He’ll need to bring a young squad together amid the backdrop of a search that is being perceived as less than robust.
What can we expect from Berhalter’s USMNT?
Berhalter is known as a cerebral, tactically detailed manager who emphasizes possession. His outside backs, at least when he was in Columbus, are known to surge forward in a bid to get service into the box. (Crew SC right back Harrison Afful had six assists this year.)”I think Gregg is one of the best tactical coaches that I’ve played for,” said Parkhurst.”He just knows the game very well, has his team very organized and prepared for each opponent and different tactical ways he wants to approach the game. He’s just very detail oriented in that way, and sets his team up for success. Everyone knows how well Columbus play, and how difficult they are to play against. That’s because of Gregg and [assistant coach Josh Wolff].”The work that we do on the field tactically, the video that we watch … it’s intense, it’s a lot. He works hard, and I think he’s a great hire.”Berhalter is also capable of being flexible. During the 2017 Eastern Conference finals against Toronto FC, Berhalter toggled back and forth between three-man and four-man back lines in a bid to thwart TFC’s high-powered attack. (Toronto ended up winning 1-0 on aggregate.) Parkhurst feels this is an area where Berhalter has grown as he’s gotten more experience.”I think that my first year there, it was one way to play and that was about it,” he said. “My second year when we played the New York Red Bulls in the conference final [in 2015], we basically just kicked long balls up to Kei [Kamara]. That was a big adjustment and now this past year he tinkered with different formations a lot during the year. I think he’s become more flexible with what the game entails, or with his team and the players available. But the overall picture stays the same, and I think that’s a good thing.”Berhalter is also known as a teacher though he tended to rely on veterans in Columbus. Yet one area that will bear watching is in the area of man management and how he’ll connect with the team’s biggest players. Back in 2016, a feud between midfielder Federico Higuain and then-Crew forward Kei Kamara festered to the point that it burst out into the open. Kamara was traded soon thereafter, but there is a sense it could have been handled better. Berhalter has no doubt learned from that experience, and the coming months will reveal just how much.
The extent to which he’ll adopt his preferred style with the U.S. is an open question. While there are outside backs like DeAndre Yedlin, and even Shaq Moore, who seem to fit his desired profile, the left back position has been notoriously difficult to fill. Keeping the ball has also been a weakness for the U.S., especially against high-caliber opponents.Next summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup will be his first major test.
How did U.S. Soccer end up picking him over everyone else?
Much of the search for a new U.S. men’s manager has been shrouded in secrecy, with details only coming out in dribs and drabs. This conveyed the impression that Berhalter was the choice from the beginning and that the search was largely for show and not at all thorough. Yet the USSF is denying this assertion.In a statement, USSF indicated that it compiled an initial list of about 33 candidates. These included the usual suspects both foreign and domestic, such as Vermes, Marsch, Atlanta United’s Tata Martino, U.S. U-20 manager Tab Ramos and then-Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio. Of course, this is the bare minimum of what one would expect in the early stages. It doesn’t guarantee a robust search.Upon being hired as USMNT general manager, Stewart developed a profile of his ideal coach. These requirements included fluency in English, experience managing a professional club or senior national team, use of analytics, as well as “added value qualifications” like familiarity with MLS and the U.S. player pool, a willingness to work collaboratively and not focus solely on the national team.”It’s very important to have a coach that can actually implement a playing style that takes into account the players that you have,” said Stewart. “Within that style, it’s trying to find a formation and a way of playing to get results. I was looking for someone that demonstrated a clear ability to implement a style of play where the players knew their roles and it showed in the results his team attained on the field.”Once the profile was applied, the list shrank to 11 candidates, a group that included multiple coaches from abroad. Martino was out because of his lack of proficiency in English. Vermes was eliminated because of his desire to control every aspect of the program down to youth level, much like he does at SKC (which is also similar to how Klinsmann managed the U.S. national team). The fact that Ramos had managed only at youth level, and never a professional or senior national team, proved to be a fatal blow to his candidacy. Why Marsch didn’t get more consideration remains an unknown.One coach who made the cut was Osorio, and a source familiar with the process indicated that Osorio did have informal discussions with Stewart about the job. But his timeline for accepting a new post didn’t align with Stewart’s, and the Colombian opted to move on quickly and sign with Paraguay. (Osorio was asked whether this was true, but in a series of voice mail exchanges with ESPN FC colleague Tom Marshall, he did not address the question.)The list was eventually culled to five candidates, a group that included Pareja, who at the time was managing FC Dallas but has since moved on to Club Tijuana. Two of the candidates dropped out of the running at their own choosing. Pareja and Berhalter were deemed the two finalists.Should it have taken this long? No, although the election of a new USSF president in Carlos Cordeiro and Stewart’s hiring are understandable factors, it shouldn’t have taken another six months after Stewart was named to reach this point. The process has also done little to dispel the notion that the USSF remains insular in its ways given that some obvious candidates such as Vermes and Marsch weren’t spoken to. The three other candidates aside from Pareja and Berhalter remain a mystery. That said, Stewart, who insisted he would take his time in finding the right coach, now has his man, and the U.S. program can at least begin to move forward.”Gregg has the background as a person, successful coach and former player,” Stewart said. “When it comes to the base and added value qualifications, he scored extremely high. His willingness, work ethic and ideas about developing this player pool and influencing these players in and outside of camp and the thought process he has about that — constantly seeking new things — set him apart.”He is a coach that is learning at all times. Every single day he tries to develop himself so he can be a better leader for the team that he has. That is something that really stood out with Gregg and went a long way in the decision to offer him the job.”
The elephant in the room: Berhalter’s brother
The USSF has been at pains to insist that Berhalter’s brother Jay, who serves as the USSF’s chief commercial officer, has played no part in the search for a new manager. But the fact that Jay Berhalter was involved in the hiring of Stewart invites skepticism.Simply put, the USSF executive should have never been involved in any aspect of Stewart’s hiring and didn’t need to be given Stewart’s obvious qualifications. Do I think Stewart rolled over and cruised through the process? No. But the USSF didn’t help itself by allowing Jay to be involved in Stewart’s hiring. It has only served to undermine Gregg Berhalter’s tenure and add considerable pressure before he’s so much as picked up a whistle, even though he is qualified for the job. That is on the USSF, not Berhalter.With Dan Flynn set to retire as the USSF’s secretary general and CEO, Jay Berhalter has been suggested as a candidate to replace him. While the responsibilities of the position are primarily on the business side, the role involves overseeing the day-to-day operations of the entire federation. Stewart’s role as GM sees him report to the secretary general.Given Gregg Berhalter’s hiring, if Jay Berhalter were named to the post, the mere appearance of a conflict of interest would be gargantuan. And if things go sideways with the U.S. men’s national team under Gregg Berhalter’s stewardship, his brother would be far from a disinterested observer.The USSF has stated that unlike under previous president Sunil Gulati, any change in manager would be made at the behest of the board of directors, but the secretary general still wields immense influence within the organization. The USSF should look elsewhere to find Flynn’s successor.
Amid U.S. Soccer’s future focus, Gregg Berhalter just wants to get to work
Dec 4, 2018Noah DavisU.S. soccer writer
NEW YORK — The focus on a Tuesday afternoon at The Glasshouses — which is, according to its website, “a collection of technologically advanced high-rise event spaces” — was the future. The future of the United States men’s national team, to be specific.Gregg Berhalter, whose announcement as the new head coach prompted the occasion, talked about looking ahead. “It’s about moving forward and thinking about where we want to end up in 2022,” he said. “How do we get there? What are the right mix of players?”Carlos Cordeiro, the new-ish United States Soccer Federation president, did too. “This is a great day for U.S. Soccer,” he said. “A great day for the U.S. men’s national team. Indeed, a great day for soccer in America.”Earnie Stewart, the American general manager and person most responsible for Berhalter’s hiring, was also on message. “The style of play was important [in looking for a coach],” he said. “It explains where we are going and what we are trying to do.”
The forward focus continued later in the afternoon. A few hours after the news conference concluded, there was a “The Future is US” fan summit.All anyone wanted to talk about was next year and beyond. Berhalter, with his deep-set blue eyes offset by a blue button-down shirt that he wore without a tie, refused to even address how the U.S. team got to this point.”I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about the failure of the past,” he said. Which makes sense because the recent past has been pretty brutal.The Americans missed the 2018 World Cup. They spent more than 14 months without a head coach, a time in which interim manager Dave Sarachan worked admirably to introduce new players but found himself hamstrung by the lack of full-time tenure and a permanent direction. The results were fine, if not spectacular: wins against Paraguay and Mexico, a draw with France a month before Les Bleus took home the World Cup trophy in Russia, listless and convincing losses to Colombia, England and Italy. Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Tim Weah and a few other young talents emerged as possible solutions going forward.Life and careers continued. The men’s national team stood still.The future couldn’t come quickly enough. You can’t, however, get to the future without dealing with the present, so back to The Glasshouses. The 21st-floor room overlooking the rapidly growing west side of Manhattan, the Hudson River and New Jersey featured U.S. national team branding on the backdrop, the walls and the windows. Even the concrete pillars holding up the roof were draped in red, white and blue banners featuring the slogans “The future is US” and “Somos el futuro.” One image with those words depicted a smiling DeAndre Yedlin, Julian Green and Bobby Wood. Are these the players you think of when you think of the future?
Before the proceedings, Cordeiro mingled. It’s a new era, one person observed to him. “Hopefully a good one,” the president responded. Elsewhere, there were assorted flavors of cookies, soda provided by U.S. Soccer sponsor Coca-Cola and various American soccer luminaries including MLS commissioner Don Garber.Following brief opening statements, the quartet seated at the dais — Cordiero, Stewart, Berhalter and USSF CEO Dan Flynn — answered questions for nearly half an hour. Most queries went to the new coach, who said the right things.”We want a team that’s going to compete. We want a team that’s going to be prepared. We want a team that’s going to understand our style of play and execute it,” he said. “The process has to accelerate. When you have quality players, when you have players that have the ability to learn, you can accelerate that process a little bit. Each and every game, you should expect to see development. That’s my job.”Berhalter talked passionately about building a cohesive style — “an attacking-based team that wants to create goal-scoring opportunities by disorganizing the opponent” — while touting his success at doing so in his last job with the Columbus Crew without coming off as overly impressed with himself. He mentioned sending supplemental materials and possibly webinars to his players when they are with their clubs around the world so they can develop as a group separately.Throughout the event, Berhalter stayed calm and poised, respectful and collected. He presented as a thoughtful manager who understands what he wants from his players and how to empower them to achieve these ends. This should be more than enough.While a news release announcing his appointment was absurdly effusive in its praise of his qualities — “known as a fiercely competitive and intelligent player, a natural leader and a detailed, forward-thinking manager” — the truth is that he’s a fine and appropriate candidate to do the job. After a playing career that spanned three European countries and featured 44 caps with the U.S. national team, he had an up-and-down managerial stint with Sweden’s Hammarby before joining the Crew as head coach and sporting director. It is this experience, which involved holding together a club with an uncertain future, that will help him most in his new job.As American manager, his first task will be re-establishing a culture of accountability and presenting a coherent, sensible plan for the next few years. This is a skill set he possesses.Still, the whole event, frankly, felt at least a tad ridiculous: the hyper-modern event space, the high production value, the flowery rhetoric. The future, man, the future. The U.S. got its guy — though Stewart admitted that one of his three top candidates was no longer available when he wanted to interview him. Berhalter sat, listened, spoke. One suspects what he really wants to be doing is coaching. He’ll get his chance starting soon, and judgment will follow quickly after.But if you’re a U.S. men’s national team fan, it’s easier to feel better about tomorrow today than it was yesterday.
United States manager Gregg Berhalter ‘humbled, honored’ as he takes over national team
Dec 4, 2018Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent
Gregg Berhalter said he is “humbled” and “honored” to be taking over as manager of the U.S. men’s national team, and that he is ready for the challenge of leading the team back to the World Cup.Berhalter was introduced at a press conference in New York City, ending a 13-month period in which Dave Sarachan managed the team on a caretaker basis. Sarachan’s involvement followed the resignation of Bruce Arena after the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.Berhalter, 45, becomes the first U.S. manager in the program’s history to have also played in a World Cup. The former Columbus Crew manager also represented the U.S. at youth level and had an extensive career as player, spending the bulk of his playing days in Europe.”I’m ready for this challenge,” said Berhalter. “The youth national team, the full national team, my experiences as a player and my experiences in the coaching ranks have prepared me for this moment. I’m excited for the opportunity to turn this group of men into a team.”I’ll be focusing on the players and team, how we can compete first and foremost. I’m focused on building a style of play, and I’m focused on team [cohesiveness]. I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I know there’s quality in this group, and I know that the closer we can come together, the closer we can come to [reaching] our goals.”U.S. men’s national team general manager Earnie Stewart, as well U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro shed a bit more light on the process that led to Berhalter’s hiring. Cordeiro called it “the most inclusive and comprehensive search in our history.”Stewart confirmed earlier reports that he began with an initial list of 33 candidates, which he reduced to 11 after applying the coaching profile he developed with other USSF staff members. That list was then ultimately reduced to three candidates, one of whom later withdrew his candidacy due to timing issues, leaving Stewart with Berhalter and current Club Tijuana manager Oscar Pareja.
Berhalter was ultimately the choice, and he added he was first contacted in late August. The decision gained unanimous approval of USSF technical development committee last Wednesday, and then the full Board of Directors last weekend.The length of the process has been criticized, but Stewart said he had no regrets on missing out on a potential head coach.”That’s part of life, part of soccer, that’s the way things go,” he said. “I think we went through this in a thorough way.”Cordeiro added, “We have no regrets at all. We got our best guy…we couldn’t have moved any faster.”Berhalter will need to get up to speed quickly in terms of imparting his philosophy to the pool of players. There will be a camp of domestic players that will take place in Chula Vista, California starting on Jan. 7, and will culminate with a pair of friendlies against Panama on Jan. 27 and Costa Rica on Feb. 2.Berhalter added that his first priority is immediately reaching out to players. He’ll be calling a number of domestic-based players, then he’ll head to the MLS Cup final between Atlanta United and the Portland Timbers on Dec. 8, and from there he’ll head over to Europe to meet face to face.”What I’m focused on is how can we do more outside of camp,” he said. “What communication can we give to the players that’s going to prepare them for the learning that’s going to take place in camp? And then setting the stage in January, setting the stage for team expectations, team culture and style of play. If we can get a head start by working with this group in an intensive period in January, and then incorporate European-based players into the squad in March.”Berhalter’s reputation is that of an attack-minded manager with a keen eye for tactical detail. While most new managers make that claim upon their introduction, Berhalter insists he’ll stay true to his preferred style, while also being smart in terms of the challenges put in front of him.”The idea is that we are an attacking-based team, that wants to create goalscoring opportunities by disorganizing opponents,” he said. “We’ll do that in a number of ways. Consistently over my time in Columbus, we’ve done it through build up. We start the ball with the goalie in the back, the teams try to press us, and we play through them to try to create goalscoring opportunities.”Another way to do that is to use pressure, whether we start in a mid-block or move into high pressure to force turnovers to win the ball and immediately create goalscoring opportunities. The idea is that it’s a fluid style [where] the players are intent on breaking lines, playing through opponent and creating goalscoring opportunities.”I think at times we can do a better job to change the tempo of the game instead of playing at such a high rhythm all the time. I think mixing that rhythm is going to be very important, especially at international level, especially considering some of the climates you’re playing in. But we want to see ball circulation, breaking lines, and creating goalscoring opportunities. That should be DNA of this team.”
Berhalter aiming for both distinct style, flexibility for US national team
December 5, 20184:19PM ESTDylan ButlerContributor
NEW YORK — Under Gregg Berhalter, Columbus Crew SC had a clear identity as a possession-based team that played an attacking, attractive brand of soccer. Will the same be true for the US national team now that Berhalter has been named their head coach? In his formal introduction Monday at a press conference in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan, Berhalter gave some hints about what he expects from the USMNT tactically under his watch. “The idea is that we’re an attacking-based team that wants to create goal-scoring opportunities by disorganizing the opponent,” he said. “We’ll do that in a number of different ways.”In five years with Crew SC, Berhalter said, that plan was executed by possessing the ball out of the back and by utilizing high pressure. “We’ve done it through buildup where we start the ball with the goalie in the back and when teams try to press us, we play through them to create goal-scoring opportunities, we’re making the field big,” Berhalter said. “Another way to do that is to use pressure, whether we start in a mid block or move into high pressure to force turnovers, win the ball and immediate create goal-scoring opportunities.”The idea is it’s a fluid style that the players are intent on breaking lines, playing through the opponent and creating goal-scoring opportunities.”When closely watching the young USMNT this year, under interim manager Dave Sarachan, Berhalter said he saw potential, but also a team that “needs development, needs direction.”And it’s a team, he said, that will need some tactical flexibility based on the opponent and game conditions. “At times we can do a better job to chane the tempo of the game instead of playing at such a high rhythm all the time,” Berhaler said. “I think mixing that rhythm is going to be important, especially at the international level, especially considering some of the climates you’re playing in. But we want to see ball circulation, breaking lines, creating goal-scoring opportunities. That should be the DNA of this team.”Berhalter said the distribution of that philosophy begins with initial calls to MLS players before going to MLS Cup and a trip abroad to meet European-based players face-to-face. Then comes the critical January camp. While it was too soon to talk possible invitees, Berhalter said the camp will be his first chance to truly place his stamp on the expectations for the team. “Setting the stage in January, setting the stage for team expectations, team culture and style of play,” he said. “We can get a head start by working with the group in an intensive period in January, and then integrate the European players into the squad in March.”And while Berhalter said there will be take-home work for players in his camp, likely utilizing “supplemental materials” like video libraries and webinars to continue to stress his messaging, the work, and improvement at each camp will be vital. But the principles, he said, will not be hard to comprehend. “My job as a coach, and our job as a staff, is make it as simple as possible,” Berhalter said. “Our game is based on very simple principles, they’re not complicated principles. The training sessions are very straightforward. I think it’s easy for the players to pick up on it. I think to execute it a really high level does take some time, but it’s based on simple principles. I hope the group will be able to appreciate that.”
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT U.S. MNT HEAD COACH GREGG BERHALTER
BERHALTER IS THE FIRST U.S. WORLD CUP VETERAN TO BECOME HEAD COACH OF THE U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MNT by Jeff Crandall on Dec 2, 2018
With the hiring of former U.S. international defender Gregg Berhalter as head coach, the U.S. Men’s National Team has set a new course as it looks ahead to the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, Nations League and qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.Here are five things to know about the new USA boss:
Gregg Berhalter was born on Aug. 1, 1973 in Englewood, N.J. and grew up in nearby Tenafly. Notably, he is the godson of former Boston Red Sox player and baseball Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.From an early age, he played at Union County Sport Club and in high school, alongside future MNT teammate and captain Claudio Reyna at New Jersey high school powerhouse St. Benedicts Prep in Newark.A standout in high school, Berhalter went on to play at the University of North Carolina. There he played with more future MNT teammates in Eddie Pope and Kerry Zavagnin, and went on to captain the USA at the 1993 FIFA World Youth Championship in Australia.
Reppin’ the Red, White & Blue
His senior international career began when he came on at halftime of the MNT’s 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia on Oct. 19, 1994 in Dharan. From there, he served as the youngest member of the U.S. side that finished fourth at the 1995 Copa America in Uruguay. Another injury kept him from making a strong case for himself to go to the 1998 FIFA World Cup, but Berhalter found his place with the MNT the following year, helping the team to a third-place finish at the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup and making a steady contribution as the side qualified for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.Having made the final roster for Korea/Japan, Berhalter played in both Knockout Round matches – a 2-0 Round of 16 win against Mexico and 1-0 Quarterfinal defeat to Germany. The latter match nearly produced the would be pinnacle moment in his career. Berhalter never scored a goal for the MNT, but if a hand or referee angle had been different he would have tallied one of the biggest in team history. In the second half of the 2002 World Cup Quarterfinal against Germany, Berhalter’s volley was handled on the line by German defender Torsten Frings. Controversially, Scottish referee Hugh Dallas waved off calls for a hand ball, allowing Die Mannschaft to edge by with a 1-0 victory.Berhalter would go on to play for the USA at the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup and help the MNT qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He made the final 23-man roster and finished his career with 44 international caps. Notably, he becomes the first MNT head coach to have played for the USA at a FIFA World Cup.
Seeking A Professional Challenge
Playing at the University of North Carolina from 1991-94, Berhalter said that college soccer helped him adjust to the physical side of the game, but felt he needed a bigger challenge and elected to leave the Tar Heels after his junior season. With Major League Soccer not set to launch until 1996, he looked abroad for his first professional opportunity and perhaps foreshadowed his move into management.“I knew at the time I wanted soccer to be my life,” he told ussoccer.com in 2002. “Looking back, at the time I did choose a risky path, deciding to leave college early to go to Europe.”Fortunately, he found a good situation with Dutch Eerste Divisie side PEC Zwolle, where he was drafted into the starting XI straight away in 1994. The signing began a six-year sojourn for Berhalter in Holland, spending two years each at Zwolle and Sparta Rotterdam before winning back-to-back Player of the Year honors at SC Cambuur.Beginning to find his way with the U.S. Men’s National Team around that time, Berhalter spent a season with English League Championship side Crystal Palace in 2001. Following two strong performances for the MNT at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, he moved back to the continent with German club Energie Cottbus. After helpin Cottbus regain promotion to the Bundesliga, Berhalter moved across Germany where he continued as captain of 1860 Munich for three more seasons. A smart and vocal defender, Berhalter also honed his skills with penalty kicks in Germany, often taking attempts for his clubs.Always holding a desire to play in the USA, Berhalter returned home to end his career with the LA Galaxy in 2009. That year, he helped the club to the 2009 MLS Cup Final. Despite converting his penalty, the Galaxy fell to Real Salt Lake in a shootout. He helped the Galaxy claim the 2010 MLS Supporters Shield, and while serving as a player/assistant coach in 2011 earned that title along with the MLS Cup to end his career.
An Eye Towards the Touchline
An early student of the game, Berhalter has indicated that his time playing in four different countries informed the way he looked at things, with each stop offering a different experience. In Holland, he kept detailed notes on training sessions and ideas about tactics and positional play. Defensive structure was his focus in England, while he took in the transitional and finishing aspects of the game in Germany.He began to put some of that knowledge into practice off the field during the end of his career. While playing for 1860 Munich, Berhalter assisted the technical staff in scouting the team’s upcoming opponents. In his final season, Berhalter began applying his years of study, taking up a dual player/assistant coach role with the LA Galaxy in the club’s MLS Cup and Supporter Shield winning campaign in 2011.
Harkening back to the decision to begin his playing career abroad, he instantly moved into management when he took the reins at Swedish club Hammarby weeks after the Galaxy lifted MLS Cup. There, he managed Hammarby to within one place of the Allsvenskan promotion playoffs in 2012, but returned to the U.S. the following year when he was named Sporting Director and Head Coach of Columbus Crew SC.A believer in analytics, Berhalter took a detail-oriented approach in managing the soccer operations of Crew SC. He led the small-market club to the MLS Cup Playoffs in four of five seasons, working with a salary budget that ranked in the league’s bottom half each year. He took Columbus to the 2015 MLS Cup Final and within a game of a return in 2017 when Crew SC fell to eventual champions Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Final.Along with holding the UEFA “A” Coaching License, Berhalter was also part of the inaugural class to earn U.S. Soccer’s “PRO” Coaching License in 2016.
History of Leadership
Berhalter showed to be a leader early on in his international career, captaining the USA as it advanced to the Knockout Round of the 1993 FIFA World Youth Championships in Australia. He continued wearing the armband with that age group as they formed the U-23 MNT going into the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta but was forced out of the competition with an injury just weeks before the opening ceremony.Most notably, Berhalter is one of the few Americans to serve as captain of two European clubs. The veteran center back wore the armband in the final two seasons of his stay with Energie Cottbus (2004-06), leading the club back to the Bundesliga at the end of his tenure there. He continued as captain when he moved to 1860 Munich, spending three seasons wearing the armband in Bavaria.When he returned stateside with the LA Galaxy, the experienced defender served as a mentor for the Galaxy’s young back line which featured future World Cup player Omar Gonzalez, as well as rising players AJ DeLaGarza and Sean Franklin. The trio of youngsters would serve as stalwart pieces of the club’s successful run from 2009-2014.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: FORMER TEAMMATES DISCUSS GREGG BERHALTER AS U.S. MNT HEAD COACH Dec 3, 2018
Following the announcement of Gregg Berhalter as U.S. Men’s National Team head coach, ussoccer.com reached out to a number his former MNT teammates to get their thoughts on his hire.
Claudio Reyna, four-time FIFA World Cup veteran and former MNT captain:
“Gregg is an exciting choice for the National Team job. He is someone who is organized and extremely detailed with his preparation for every training session, camp, and game. I think without a doubt players will respond to him because of the intensity and energy he will bring. Players love the level of information and preparation he provides. No doubt he will give the team the right mentality to get results and play good soccer as the weeks and months progress.”
“As a player, he was a leader on and off the field and brought a high level of professionalism. Even though he didn’t wear the armband, he acted as a captain in terms of how he supported his teammates. He became of voice of sharing ideas and thoughts, and was always someone I spoke to about how we could play better and ways we could exploit our opponents. As a friend, colleague and teammate, it was no surprise that he transitioned into being a good coach.”
Landon Donovan, three-time FIFA World Cup veteran and joint MNT all-time leading scorer:
“What I remember about playing with Gregg is that he was always there to win and there to compete every day. That’s who Gregg is, and that’s why he’s been so successful as a coach. As I got to know him through the National Team and the Galaxy, you could tell quickly that he was someone who was going to be a very good coach. He understood the game, he studied the game, he talked about the game and he wanted to learn about the game. He’s as bright as they come in U.S. Soccer circles. I’m very happy for Gregg and excited for our National Team program. I think he’s a great hire and I think he’s the right person to be moving this team forward.”
Kasey Keller, four-time FIFA World Cup veteran and ESPN analyst:
“If you look at the American candidates, Gregg ticks all the boxes. He has playing experience in Europe and MLS. He has coaching experience in Europe and MLS, and licenses from both. As a manager, he brings a great level of organization and professionalism, which he demonstrated in Columbus. Working for an organization that didn’t have the most resources, he maximized their potential and really developed a high level of communication with his players. Those types of skills are big for a National Team manager. “During his playing career both at clubs and for the National Team, he worked with so many different coaches from which he can draw little ideas. He knows what it’s like being a European-based player on the National Team and what challenges that brings, and he knows what it’s like for MLS guys. He also knows what it means to represent the United States, and he demonstrated that every time he came into the National Team.“With that whole package, the choice of Gregg makes total sense.”
Eddie Lewis, two-time FIFA World Cup veteran and former teammate of Gregg Berhalter:
“Gregg‘s intensity, tactical knowledge, and professionalism as a player have already translated into success as a manager. While it comes as no surprise, it’s certainly something he has worked hard for and earned. In addition to bringing those skills to the National Team, I’m confident in this new role that he will make sure all the players understand the honor of representing our country and the responsibility of the wearing the U.S. jersey.”
Brad Friedel, two-time FIFA World Cup veteran and head coach of the New England Revolution:
“For the last five years in Columbus, Gregg has demonstrated his ability to implement a style of play. With all progress of soccer in the United States and the increased maturity and sophistication of the players and the leagues, I think it’s important to have a coach who knows the American player and the American system. Gregg has certainly demonstrated that. In New England he will have an ally, and we’ll help in any way we can.”
USA WINS SECOND STRAIGHT CONCACAF U-20 TITLE WITH 2-0 VICTORY VS. MEXICO
ALEX MENDEZ SCORES BOTH GOALS, TIES U.S. RECORD FOR MOST GOALS IN A U-20 CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT; MENDEZ WINS TOURNAMENT’S GOLDEN BALL, BRADY SCOTT AWARDED GOLDEN GLOVE; 2019 FIFA U-20 WORLD CUP DRAW SET FOR FEB. 24 IN GYDNIA, POLAND U-20 MNT Nov 21, 2018
BRADENTON, Fla. (Nov. 21, 2018) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team turned in a sterling effort in a 2-0 win against Mexico to capture a second consecutive Concacaf U-20 Championship title. Alex Mendez scored both goals to guide the U.S. to victory and cap off a Golden Ball-winning performance at the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship, while goalkeeper Brady Scott was recognized with the tournament Golden Glove Award. Additionally, Scott, defenders Sergino Dest, Chris Gloster and Mark McKenzie, midfielders Brandon Servania, Mendez, Ayo Akinola, and Ulysses Llanez were all named to the tournament Best XI team by the competition’s Technical Study Committee. The game began with the U.S. well in control with the wealth of possession and offensive forays. After the 15-minute mark, Mexico began to push forward with more confidence and players, having played on the counter in the early going. With increased space to operate its offense, the U.S. struck the opening blow via a nice attack down the left sideline that culminated in Paxton Pomykal cutting infield and picking out Alex Mendez at the top of the area for a one-time shot through traffic that nestled in the lower right corner of the net for the 1-0 advantage.Continuing its run of commanding play, the U.S. nearly doubled its lead in the 26th minute again through Pomykal, but the ball refused to go in, hitting a defender then the Mexico goalkeeper and bounced toward the open net before being cleared off the line.
Things began to get chippy after that as tackles from both teams came in hard and confrontations between players became more common. The disrupted nature of the game suited Mexico just fine as it won a number of free kicks in dangerous areas around the USA’s final third, one of which resulted in the best chance of the half for El Tri.With half time closing in, a set piece was lofted into the USA’s six-yard box and required U.S. goalkeeper Brady Scott to make an imperative kick save to deny a headed attempt in the 41st minute to preserve his side’s 1-0 lead.In the second half, the U.S. used the lead well, picking its spots to go forward and striking pay dirt just six minutes in. It was Pomykal again who played the catalyst, winning the ball in midfield and streaking down the left side, then cutting through the box past multiple defenders before picking out the late run of Mendez. The skillful midfielder rounded a defender and played a wall pass with Pomykal that put him in a goal and Mendez tucked his shot between the legs of the on-rushing goalkeeper to double the U.S. lead.From there, the game began to stretch, and the spotlight shined brightest on the goalkeepers who were both superb, making numerous saves to keep the match tilted on a knife edge. Mexico nearly broke through in the 62nd minute, but Brandon Saravina was on hand to clear the ball of the line for the U.S.Passions continued to flare as they had in the first half, but neither team was able to exceed the intensity of the other and U.S. head coach Tab Ramos made the right subs to keep the U.S. in the driver’s seat and across the finish line for a second straight U-20 championship.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Alex Mendez (Paxton Pomykal), 17th minute: The U.S. worked the ball down the left touchline to Paxton Pomykal who cut inside past a Mexico defender before spotting Mendez waiting unmarked at the top of the box. Pomykal laid off a perfectly weighted pass that Mendez hit first time with his left foot, sending a low drive through traffic into the bottom right corner of the net. USA 1, MEX 0 [WATCH]
USA – Alex Mendez (Paxton Pomykal), 51st minute: The U.S. struck on a lightening quick counter attack early in the second half as Pomykal stripped the ball from the opposition and raced down the left sideline before cutting across the top of the Mexico box past a number of defenders. He picked out the late arrival of Mendez who played the ball right back to Pomykal at the top of the box and he returned it into Mendez’s path. As Mexico ‘keeper Carlos Higuera came out to close down the angle, Mendez slipped the ball between his legs and into the vacated net, tying the all-time U.S. record for goals scored by a single player at the Concacaf U-20 Championship. USA 2, MEX 0 [WATCH] FINAL
- With the result, U.S. head coach Tab Ramos moves to 20-3-2 all-time in Concacaf U-20 Championship play and has led the team to four straight World Cups.
- The USA is unbeaten in its last 13 Concacaf U-20 Championship matches dating back to the opener of 2017, establishing a new team record for longest stretch without a loss in this tournament. Previously, the USA went unbeaten in 10 games from the opener of 2005 (5-0-1), 2007 (2-0-1), before falling to Costa Rica in the 2009 final after going 2-0-2.
- The USA now has a 3-8-0 all-time record versus Mexico in this competition.
- U.S. head coach Tab Ramos made three changes from the team that started versus Honduras: Brady Scott returned to goal, Matt Real, who wore the captain’s armband, replaced Chris Gloster at left back, and Justin Rennicks replaced Sebastian Soto at forward.
- Paxton Pomykal and Rennicks have appeared in all eight matches.
- Tournament Golden Ball winner, Alex Mendez led the U.S. with eight goals, which ties the USA’s tournament record set by Ricky Davis who scored eight in 1976.
- The teams both played in their third final over the last four tournaments. They met in 2013, with Mexico winning 3-1 in overtime. Mexico also won the 2015 Championship, while the USA captured its first ever CU20 title in 2017.