USA vs El Salvador Mon 7 pm TNT, HBO Max, Peacock
So the US dominated Grenada as expected with a goal in the first 4 minutes and a 7-1 victory, McKinney and Pepi both had Braces along with complete domination with 3 assist, and a goal in a Man of the Match performance by Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic. Highlights – highlight in proper Spanish See lots of Stories below. Coverage on TNT and HBO max should start by 7 pm at the latest in the this game the US must tie at least to advance to the finals of the Nation’s League this summer to defend their title.
Who Shane Stars Mon
Pulisic //Dike //Zendejas
Jedi///Ream, Miles Robinson/Dest
The 24-man roster for the USMNT:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town), Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough), Matt Turner (Arsenal)
DEFENDERS (8): Sergiño Dest (AC Milan), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Tim Ream (Fulham FC), Bryan Reynolds (Westerlo), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Auston Trusty (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Weston McKennie (Leeds United), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Alan Soñora (Juárez)
FORWARDS (7): Taylor Booth (Utrecht), Daryl Dike (West Bromwich Albion), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Alex Zendejas (Club América)
Indy 11 beat Detroit City 1-0 / Season Opener Sat April 1 7 pm @ the Mike
Indy Eleven will kick off the home portion of its USL Championship campaign on Saturday, April 1, when the Boys in Blue welcome Las Vegas Lights FC for a 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff in the Circle City The 11 used a 41st minute goal as they bested the frigid conditions and an overmatched new comer Detroit 1-0 on Saturday. Rebellon’s answer off a free kick came six minutes into the second half, with his goal straight through traffic settling inside the right corner of the net. See Full Highlights .Single-game tickets for all home games at IUPUI Carroll Stadium along with 17-game Season Ticket Memberships, specially-priced group tickets, and an increased portfolio of hospitality options are available for purchase now via indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100 Full Schedule Promotions
GAMES ON TV
(American’s names in Parenthesis)
Sun, Mar 26
1 pm FS1 Denmark vs Kahastahn
3 pm FS2 England vs Ukraine ?
4 pm Para+ Washington Spirit vs Seattle Reign
5 pm Para_ Portland Thorns (Rapino) vs Orlando Pride
7 pm Para+ Houston Dash vs Racing Louisville
9 pm Para+ Angel City vs NY Gothem FC
Mon, Mar 27
2:45 pm FS + Netherlands vs Gibralter
3 pm FS1 Ireland vs France
7:30 pm HBO Max, Peacock USA Men vs El Salvador
Tues, Mar 28
12 noon FS2 Georgia vs Norway
2:45 pm FS1 Turkey vs Croatia
8 pm Para+ Canada vs Honduras
10 pm pm Para+ Costa Rica vs Panama
April 1 Sat
CBS, 12:30 p.m. Kansas City Current vs. Portland Thorns — NWSL
7 pm My Indy TV Indy 11 vs Las Vegas Lights @ the Mike
Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw
McKennie, Pepi double as US thrash Grenada 7-1
Folarin Balogun to USMNT? Discussions with US Soccer confirmed
Player ratings: USMNT thumps Grenada in Nations League
How Balogun would fit into USMNT if he switched
U.S. had talks with Balogun over switch – Hudson 2dKyle Bonagura
How the USMNT can join FIFA’s elite tier: lessons from Belgium, Chile and others who’ve done it 2 dBill Connelly
Bayern Munich make Tuchel new coach after Nagelsmann firing
Mbappe and France crush Netherlands, Lukaku hits Belgium hat-trick
Gareth Southgate has solved two thirds of England’s perennial midfield problem
Harry Maguire: England not winning Euro 2024 would be failure
Can Harry Kane beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s goalscoring record? Absolutely
Harry Kane breaks Wayne Rooney’s England national team scoring record
Italy vs England player ratings: Maguire mishap, Shaw’s mad minute
Ronaldo breaks men’s international caps record, scores double
England’s James out of Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine
This isn’t your old NWSL. As league begins 11th season, it’s poised to take off
For America Ferrera, Angel City fandom and ownership go beyond the pitch
Oettl Named to USLC Team of the Week
Indy Eleven to Host Open Cup Debut vs. Michigan Stars on April 5
· USL Championship Power Rankings – Week 1
· USL Championship Team of the Week – Week 1
· USL Championship Fans’ Choice Save of the Week – Week 1
Indy 11 Win 1-0 in the Cold of Newcomer Detroit
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (Saturday, March 25, 2023) – The match-up between growing USL Championship rivals Indy Eleven at Detroit City FC proved to be as rowdy as expected at historic Keyworth Stadium. Bryam Rebellón will come home the a hero after his shot from outside the six-yard box resulted in the game’s lone, securing the a 1-0 victory over Le Rouge that marked the first win of the 2023 campaign for Indiana’s Team. On an intensely windy day (30 mph, gusting to 40), it was difficult early-on for both teams to learn how to keep the ball on course. A patient, composed start set the tone early, and it was the visitors who seemed to deal better with keeping possession in the conditions. Eleven goalkeeper Yannik Oettl gained his first stop at 10 minutes as he got down low to smother a cross from DCFC’s first venture into the box. Connor Rutz for Detroit sent a shot-on-target through the net in the 12th minute but received a whistle offside to nullify the chance.The first of many yellow cards for both teams was booked on Indy’s Younes Boudadi at 14 minutes after a diving attempt to beat Detroit to the ball got messy. This seemed to set the tone for the rest of the half, as just two minutes later, Le Rouge received their first yellow when Richard Ballard challenged Cam Lindley a little too late, sending him down. Then Solomon Asante went in the book at 21 minutes with a high boot in a 50-50 challenge with Matt Lewis. Adjusting, the Eleven attempted to switch up their angle of attack, venturing more towards the right-side to adapt to both the wind conditions and DCFC’s defense.At 28 minutes, Detroit City goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher dove and made a low snare on a strong attempt by Aodhan Quinn. Shortly after was Douglas Martinez’s first yellow card for Indy after he walked away with the ball after a stoppage
. The yellow haze didn’t let up as Detroit’s Yazeed Matthews sent Martinez down hard at 38 minutes, counting five yellow cards in the books in the first 40 minutes of the match, intensifying the tension at Keyworth. A strong attempt from DCFC’s Connor Rutz finished off the first half at 48 minutes, with a poke that bounced off the post and translated into a rebound shot, both deflected by Oettl, to keep the score at 0-0 heading into halftime.
Le Rouge entered back from half with another yellow booking this time on Reese Williams, much to captain Steve Carroll’s dismay. At 49 minutes, Quinn sent it dangerously close to the box on a beautiful service to midfielder Jack Blake, who sent a right-footed shot closely saved by Steinwascher. The Eleven were hungry for a goal after that close attempt, and Rebellon’s answer off a free kick came six minutes into the second half, with his goal straight through traffic settling inside the right corner of the net.
Douglas Martinez was increasingly aggressive this second half, stirring up quite a few fouls for the Le Rouge, not earning him any credit with the rowdy Detroit crowd. At 74 minutes, DCFC’s Matthews earned his consequential red card for his second yellow after a two-footed challenge on again, Martinez. Juan Tejada replaced Martinez later in the half and created a brilliant ball at 95 minutes on a counter where he sprung Asante, who drew a yellow card on Steve Carroll on the attack. The push for a goal continued to intensify for DCFC as time ran out, but once again Oettl pulled through for the Eleven with a last-minute tip save that allowed Indy to hand on to the victory.Next up, Indy Eleven will kick off the home portion of its USL Championship campaign with its Carroll Stadium opener next Saturday, April 1. The Boys in Blue will welcome Las Vegas Lights FC for a 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff in the Circle City.Single-game tickets for all home games at IUPUI Carroll Stadium along with 17-game Season Ticket Memberships, specially-priced group tickets, and an increased portfolio of hospitality options are available for purchase now via indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100 during regular business hours (Mon.-Fri., 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)
USL Championship Regular Season
Detroit City FC 0: 1 Indy Eleven
Saturday, March 25, 2023
Keyworth Stadium – Hamtramck, Mich.
Indy Eleven: 1W-0L-1D, 4 pts.
Detroit City FC: 1W-2L-0D, 3 pts.
IND – Bryam Rebellón (unassisted) 62’
IND – Younes Boudadi (caution) 14’
DET – Richard Ballard (caution) 16’
IND – Soloman Asante (caution) 21’
IND – Douglas Martinez (caution) 33’
DET – Yazeed Matthews (caution) 39’
DET – Rhys Williams (caution) 48’, (red card) 74’
Indy Eleven line-up (3-4-3): Yannik Oettl; Bryam Rebellón, Jesus Vazquez, Adrian Diz Pe, Younes Boudadi; Cam Lindley, Aodhan Quinn (Harrison Robledo 87’), Jack Blake; Solomon Asante (Mechack Jerome 98’), Douglas Martinez (Juan Tejada 80’), Sebastian Guenzatti
Detroit City FC line-up (4-4-2): Nate Steinwascher; Stephen Carroll, Matt Lewis, Jalen Robinson (Abdoulaye Diop 76’), Michael Bryant; Maxi Rodriguez, Tommy McCabe, Connor Rutz, Richard Ballard (Skage Simonson 67’), Rhys Williams; Yazeed Matthews
USMNT had no trouble in 7-1 rout over Grenada but the big winners were Reyna, Pulisic, MLS
2:50 AM CETKyle BonaguraESPN Staff Writer
While the United States‘ game at Grenada on Friday represented the team’s return to competitive soccer for the first time since the World Cup, the match — as expected — was anything but.Ricardo Pepi scored twice — including an early goal in the fourth minute — opening the floodgates in a 7-1 win in CONCACAF Nations League play.Weston McKennie also had two goals while Christian Pulisic played a major role with a score and a pair of assists. Brenden Aaronson and Alejandro Zendejas — making his first appearance since committing to the U.S. over Mexico — scored the other goals for a U.S. side under the charge of interim coach Anthony Hudson.Myles Hippolyte’s goal was the only consolation for the hosts.
1. Importance of MLS on display in rout
For the first time since MLS launched in 1996, an active player in the league did not feature in a USMNT game (Atlanta United‘s Miles Robinson is on the roster but was a healthy scratch). On the surface, that could come off as a negative for the league, but it’s really not.It speaks more to how the talent level is improving — a development that MLS has played a major role in. Of the 11 starters, nine came through MLS academies and only two of those players — Giovanni Reyna (NYCFC) and Weston McKennie (FC Dallas) — opted to sign their first professional contracts abroad.This cycle will continue. MLS will continue to do the lion’s share of the player development in the country, those players will move on and the national team will benefit.
2. Reyna’s midfield role a good sign
The idea of Reyna playing centrally has always been appealing. But with the trio of Yunus Musah, Tyler Adams and McKennie having worked so well together, Reyna in the midfield never happened. Part of that was former coach Gregg Berhalter’s preference, of course, but with Adams out of the squad due to injury, it provided an opportunity to experiment.
- U.S. had talks with Balogun over switch – Hudson 2dKyle Bonagura
- How the USMNT can join FIFA’s elite tier: lessons from Belgium, Chile and others who’ve done it 2 dBill Connelly
Reyna started as part of the midfield three in this match — along with Luca de la Torre and McKennie — and while he didn’t impact the game on the scoresheet, it was an important exercise. He dropped deep to collect the ball at times and pushed forward to play more as a No. 10.
Perhaps more important than the tactical aspect of Reyna’s game was that the game marked an important step forward from all the off-the-field noise that he’s been attached to for the last few months.
3. Capping off win with several cap-ties
After committing his international future to the United States, Alejandro Zendejas is now officially cap-tied and marked the occasion with a beautiful goal to round out the scoring after he came on as a second-half substitute. Zendejas, who made his USMNT debut in a friendly against Serbia in January, was electric against Grenada and has the potential to be a major contributor.
Midfielder Johnny Cardoso was also cap-tied when he entered in the second half, though his impact on the game wasn’t as pronounced. Auston Trusty, who has impressed with Birmingham City this season, also made his USMNT debut, partnering with his former Philadelphia Union teammate Mark McKenzie (whose now at Genk). Attacker Taylor Booth also received his debut and is cap-tied, as he was eligible to play for Italy.
Best and worst performers
Best: Christian Pulisic, FW, USA.
Pulisic was, by far, the best player on the field. Grenada was completely overmatched all over the field, but it was especially noticeable when the ball was at the captain’s feet. He had two official assists, a (soft) goal and delivered another ball in that led to a goal in an easy night at the office.
Best: Ricardo Pepi, FW, USA.
After not being selected to the World Cup roster, Pepi’s return to the team showcased why his future remains so bright. He scored a pair of goals and appears to be back on the right track.
Best: Weston McKennie, MF, USA.
McKennie in the box remains one of the team’s best weapons. He also scored two goals.
Worst: Benjamin Ettienne, DF, Grenada.
Had a tough time with the U.S. playing down the left.
Worst: Jason Belfon, GK, Grenada.
Seven goals is seven goals. The one he conceded to Pulisic was particularly bad.
Worst: Kwazim Theodore, MF, Grenada.
It’s a bit harsh to single out Grenada players here, but Theordore had a rough go.
Highlights and notable moments
Plenty of goals to choose from this lopsided scoreline, but Weston McKennie’s first on the night was a nice display of athleticism.Christian Pulisic was a force in the first half, wrecking havoc on the wing which led to two assists. He finally got on the scoreboard soon after the break. With 23 international goals, he is one shy of tying Joe-Max Moore for sixth most on the USMNT all-time scorers list.Alejandro Zendejas, who was the subject of a recruiting battle between the USMNT and Mexico, scored his first of his international career and the last on the evening of the visitors.
After the match: What the players/managers said
USA interim coach Anthony Hudson, on the win: “A performance and a result like this can be — you don’t want to get carried away. The importance for us is just to make sure that we do all the right things between now and the next game and we finish the job off. But the actual performance, I thought it was the result of just a really, really good week.
“With the utmost respect to our opposition, we just felt that the defining factor was gonna be focus and mentality. And I think that part of it we were pleased with.”
Hudson, on Christian Pulisic’s performance: “I just can’t speak highly enough of the character of this person who not only is a talented player, but someone that I can assure you, he just absolutely loves playing for his country. He is inspiring to the rest of the group.”
Pulisic, on the victory: “We knew that they weren’t just gonna lay down and let us beat them. That’s why the early goal was important. We came out really strong with a lot of energy and just kind of put with them right away. So I think they were kind of surprised by that. Took our goals well and just a great all around performance. Definitely gives us confidence. And now we want to go and win this next one against El Salvador.”
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)
– With Atlanta’s Miles Robinson a healthy scratch, it was the USMNT’s first competitive match without using a single MLS player since the league began in 1996.
– The USMNT’s win makes it five in as many games vs. Grenada, which breaks a tie with Barbados for most games played with a 100% record.
– It was the fifth time the USMNT had scored seven in a game — the most they have ever scored was eight (vs. Cayman Islands in 1993 and vs. Barbados in 2008).
Grenada: This was their only game of the international window and their Nations League group stage campaign is complete. They’ll finish last behind El Salvador and the United States, and will next be in action for the Gold Cup qualifiers in July.
United States: Taking on El Salvador in Orlando on Monday to see who’ll win Group A and book a spot in the Nations League semifinals in Las Vegas in June. Friday’s win also secured the USMNT an automatic place for the Gold Cup.
ASN Thoughts: USMNT routs Grenada 7-1 in Nations League
The USMNT pounded Grenada 7-1 in the Nations League and ASN’s Brian Sciaretta jots down a few thoughts.
BY BRIAN SCIARETTAPOSTED MARCH 25, 20232:05 AM
THE UNITED STATES is one step closer to clinching an expected spot back in the Nations League semifinal following Friday’s 7-1 pounding of a mostly semipro/amateur Granada team. Now all the U.S. team needs is a draw against El Salvador on Monday to clinch advancement.There isn’t much to take away from this game. Granada clearly doesn’t have the ability to play with a World Cup caliber opponent and this game was like last year’s 5-0 win in Austin. It was never in doubt and trying to draw conclusions from this game is misleading.But here are some big pictures thoughts on the game.
The best way for heavily favored teams to avoid a stressful game is just to go out and score early to eliminate the other team’s hope. That’s exactly what happened here. Four minutes in, Christian Pulisic crosses to Ricardo Pepi for a goal. From there, Grenada had to take risks and that gave the U.S. team more openings.
Christian Pulisic came out and owned the game from the opening minutes. He continues to be such a consistent performer for the U.S. team. No matter the opponent, or the tournament, Pulisic delivers on the international stage.Inside of the first 31 minutes, Pulisic assisted on Pepi’s goal, scored, and then sent in a free kick that eventually resulted in a Weston McKennie goal. Then in the 34th, he sent in another free kick that found Auston Trusty who then headed to McKennie for a 4-1 lead.Everything dangerous early in the game, when it mattered most, came from Pulisic.
THE TRAILING RUNNER
Grenada scored an unexpected goal in the 31st minute when Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong moved the ball down the right side of the box and found a trailing runner in Myles Hippolyte who then beat Matt Turner. Goals like this happen but it was eerily a reminder of the goal Dutch attacker Memphis Depay scored against the United States at the World Cup in the round of 16 knockout. In that goal, Tyler Adams failed to pick up Depay on the run.Obviously, Adams wasn’t in this game but this one should have been picked up by Luca de la Torre or Weston McKennie. But for the United States, this is something that is a little bit of a concern right now in picking up trialing runners.
CAP-TYING & NEWCOMERS
By virtue of playing in this game, three dual nationals were cap-tied to the U.S. national team. Johnny Cardoso (Brazil), Taylor Booth (Italy), and Alejandro Zendejas (Mexico) were cap-tied. All three came off the bench and for Cardoso and Booth, it was an uneventful game. Zendejas scored the team’s final goal in the 73rd minute.s for newcomers, it was the first cap for Booth and central defender Auston Trusty who wasn’t tested defensively in the game.
One talking point was that this was the first game the U.S. national team played without any MLS players since the league started. As was noted when the roster came out, with MLS playing through this window, U.S. interim manager Anthony Hudson opted to let most MLS-based players remain with their clubs and instead use them next month for the Mexico friendly.That being said, seven of the team’s 11 players were former MLS homegrown players. Another two, Gio Reyna and Weston McKennie, spent substantial time in MLS academies. In total, nine players who played form the USMNT against Grenada played in MLS and have been sold collectively in their career for nearly $100 million. When the league took a more selling approach, this was always the goal – big value and players who would move on to keep pushing up.But more young players will continue to emerge from within the league – which is critical.
USMNT player ratings: Pulisic dominates in Grenada rout
Jason Anderson follow March 24, 2023 10:41 pm ET
The U.S. men’s national team was supposed to handle Grenada with ease, and it turns out that’s exactly what they did.Returning to CONCACAF Nations League play for the first time since June 2022, the USMNT steamrolled the Spice Boys, scoring early and often in a 7-1 victory.Just knowing the scoreline, even a person that didn’t see the game could probably divine some of the ratings here. Christian Pulisic was dominant from kickoff, Weston McKennie conjured up two goals, and Alex Zendejas marked his becoming cap-tied to the team with a goal. If you’re a USMNT fan, it was a fun Friday night.With that in mind, our ratings for a game that was never particularly close:
GK: Matt Turner – 7
You saw the score, so you know Turner wasn’t that busy on the night. Still, he had one key stop: a top-drawer seventh minute save to deny Jacob Agyepong. It might not seem like much, but the score at the time was 1-0, and an early goal might have bolstered Grenada and made this more difficult than it needed to be.
The Arsenal ‘keeper couldn’t do much about Myles Hippolyte’s goal, which came from an open shot struck venomously through traffic, and beyond that was sure and steady on some long-range shots and in possession.
RB: Bryan Reynolds – 6.5
The Westerlo defender’s first cap since December 2021, and his first-ever USMNT start, was a bit of a mixed bag. He was beaten on the move that that ended with that aforementioned Turner save, and he had a few first-half moments where his positioning wasn’t what it needed to be.
However, he improved in the second half, getting into more promising attacking positions and allowing the USMNT to threaten from both flanks more than they did in the first half (scroll down for Joe Scally’s rating to see how comically left-sided the U.S. was in the first half).
Reynolds wasn’t able to provide a killer final ball from those promising spots, but he was getting into them, and had arguably his best moment of the game undone by a narrow offside call near the Grenada endline later in the match.
RCB: Mark McKenzie – 7
Reunited with former Union academy teammate Auston Trusty, McKenzie looked at ease in a game that was, frankly, easy for the center backs.
Neither the goal nor the Agyepong chance had anything to do with him, and as the more experienced center back, he kept things stable and straightforward. Job done.
LCB: Auston Trusty – 7
Trusty’s first senior cap saw him set McKennie up with a cushioned header as the score ballooned to 4-1 in the 34th minute. He might take some heat for not closing the cutback from Romar Frank on Hippolyte’s goal, but the error on that play came further up the field. Trusty was trying to put out a fire that he hadn’t started, but was left with too much ground to make up.The Birmingham City man, like McKenzie, just took care of business in a game where mistake avoidance and moving the ball along quickly were what mattered.
LB: Joe Scally – 7.5
Scally was so, so, so involved in the first half. Some of that was obvious, as he repeatedly connected with Pulisic, but he was clearly a hub for the entire USMNT in possession.The USMNT managed to share the ball more evenly between the flanks as the game wore on, but Scally’s first half was the platform for a lot of what Pulisic did to utterly dominate this game.It wasn’t flashy, but it was really high-level work for the Borussia Mönchengladbach defender.
RCM: Weston McKennie – 8
Starting alongside Luca de la Torre in a 4-2-3-1, McKennie was solid and stable for the first half hour, then delivered his typical dominance on set pieces with a three-minute braceFirst, he didn’t quite win the header, but did superbly to land from his jump and use his athleticism to uncork an audacious volley home in the 31st minute. Then, just after Grenada had scored a goal of their own, McKennie showed more resourcefulness to poke the ball past Jason Belfon after Trusty’s knockdown header at the far post.From there, McKennie kept possession ticking over as is needed against lower-level opposition before being replaced by Yunus Musah in the 57th minute. Not bad at all.
LCM: Luca de la Torre – 6.5
The Celta Vigo midfielder had a up-and-down showing. On the positive side, his disguised pass in the 49th minute teed Pulisic up to make it 5-1, and his through ball for Pepi to make it 6-1 was pure class. That vision and ability to weigh his passes makes him an excellent No. 8, and served as a reminder of what he can do in the positions he normally occupies.
On the other hand, he lost Frank in what was the key USMNT mistake on Hippolyte’s goal, and it highlighted the problem of asking a natural No. 8 to function as a No. 6. De la Torre’s defensive reactions are just a split-second slow, because he’s not used to the order of his priorities in this role. The awareness of runners needed is not quite as crucial in his actual position, and that showed in this game.
But is that his fault? This was something we pretty much already knew, and while the stakes weren’t exactly high in this game, de la Torre’s momentary letdowns were hardly a shock. The assists were great, but the defensive recognition shown in this one removes de la Torre as an option at this position against stronger opposition.
RW: Brenden Aaronson – 7.5
Aaronson started as the team’s nominal right winger, though he and Gio Reyna showed lots of comfort swapping spots on the fly.
That helped Aaronson get his goal, as he drifted all the way to the left half-space to receive the ball from Pulisic, then burst into the box to fire home the second USMNT goal.
In the second half, Aaronson spent some time as the No. 10 after Reyna was substituted, and was more regularly influential. His hard work, even with a five-goal lead, turned essentially nothing into a sixth goal as he teed Alex Zendejas up for a goal.
Shortly thereafter, Aaronson nearly repeated that trick in a flowing transition move, but Belfon did well to stop Zendejas’ low effort after the Leeds midfielder’s cutback.
AM: Gio Reyna – 6.5
After the many controversies, most of which didn’t even directly involve Reyna, the Dortmund man was deployed in the No. 10 role. If you believe certain corners of USMNT Twitter, this was the formation that Gregg Berhalter should have deployed against every opponent at the World Cup. The idea was to build the team around Reyna, choosing individual talent over how well the pieces fit together.
On the night, at least, Reyna produced a bit of a lukewarm performance. It’s not that he was poor, and obviously the team won 7-1. It’s just that Reyna showed flashes of danger without actually coming up with the final ball, shot, or dribble.
While it’s not apples to apples to compare how he did to how Aaronson fared in the same position later in the match — Aaronson certainly benefitted from an exhausted, demoralized opponent in a way that Reyna didn’t — it must be noted that the USMNT were more goal-dangerous with the Leeds man in this space.
Still, Reyna can and will play better than this, and on a night where the gameplan was all about feeding Pulisic, some of the issue at play here was just the ball being moved away from him and towards someone else. Reyna worked hard, was brave enough to welcome the ball even in tight spaces, and did contribute.
LW: Christian Pulisic – 9
Captaining the team in Tyler Adams’ absence, Pulisic made sure this game never turned into a tricky contest. He picked up two early assists, setting Ricardo Pepi up for a point-blank header in the fourth minute and then feeding Brenden Aaronson in the 21st.
It could have been more: his best pass of the early stages of the game saw him float a lob over the Grenada back four to find Pepi, who likely should have buried the 13th minute chance. Later, while he couldn’t claim an assist on either goal in McKennie’s quick-fire brace, his well-placed free kick service created both chances.
Pulisic got lucky to get on the scoresheet, as his 49th minute shot somehow squirmed away from Belfon before bobbling over the line. Still, he had done well to angle his run perfectly, making this a classic “make your own luck” goal.
Anthony Hudson took some mercy on Grenada and withdrew Pulisic just beyond the hour mark, or we could have had our first-ever 10 rating in Pro Soccer Wire history.
ST: Ricardo Pepi – 7.5
Pepi’s excellent form at Groningen continued as he snapped a header from point-blank range to score in the fourth minute.
While he did less well with his next look, firing right at Belfon in the 13th minute after a beautiful ball from Pulisic, he made up for it with a well-timed run that turned de la Torre’s wonderful pass into a sixth goal in the second half.
For spells, the USMNT was so heavily looking to Pulisic and Scally that Pepi’s job was to occupy defenders rather than be the main threat, which he did well. A showing to build on, particularly as he was clinical early in both halves.
Coach: Anthony Hudson – 7.5
Is it harsh, after a 7-1 win, to not go higher here? Especially after the USMNT rotated heavily — only three World Cup starters were in the eleven tonight — Hudson will probably wonder what he has to do to get a higher rating.In any case, the choice to rotate for this game and prioritize El Salvador (the better opponent, and also the only must-not-lose match in this window) was correct, and the team that took the field justified the interim boss’ faith by eviscerating the Spice Boys. They were engaged from the jump, and made sure this game didn’t devolve into an ugly, CONCACAF-style grind.Furthermore, the left-side tilt felt intentional, and allowed Pulisic to thoroughly dominate the game. Setting up a plan that lets your best player be his best is pretty much what coaches are supposed to do, and Hudson did it well.That said, playing de la Torre in a defensive role did not work particularly well, which can’t be seen as much of a surprise. Though there will be arguments that the experiment was worth a try, asking him to play as a No. 6 seems like a misdiagnosis of his skill-set.
Sub: Yunus Musah – 6.5
Musah came into a game that was essentially over in the 57th minute, replacing McKennie. His job was to basically just manage this game and see it out without drama, and he quietly did exactly that. Musah smartly managed to get the ball off his feet without getting caught by any late tackles, and helped the USMNT spend long spells camped out in Grenada’s half.
Sub: Daryl Dike – 6
Dike replaced Pepi in the 57th, and while he worked hard, he wasn’t quite able to get involved in the game. He did offer some typical industry to make room for others, mainly Alex Zendejas, but the sacrificial role wasn’t all that difficult due to Grenada’s inability to deny the USMNT space between the lines.
Sub: Alex Zendejas – 7.5
The Club América man replaced Pulisic in the 64th minute and became cap-tied to the USMNT, which means the team finalized a recruitment victory over their biggest rival while also thrashing Grenada.He then showed why both U.S. Soccer and Mexico were pursuing him, producing a surgical 23-yard shot to make it 7-1 after Aaronson’s hustle kept an attack going.Zendejas had two more dangerous shots after that, but on both occasions Belfon came up with excellent saves to deny him. The hype turned out to be the reality for Zendejas, who seems ready to be a factor no matter how close to full strength the U.S. squad is.
Sub: Taylor Booth – 6.5
Booth made his USMNT debut replacing Reyna in the 64th minute, playing wide right while Aaronson moved inside. He took up some smart positions to connect passes and help the USMNT manage the game, but we didn’t get to see that many of the things that have brought him attention with FC Utrecht.Given the circumstances, and the fact that the USMNT’s left-sided players were able to find far more space to operate in, Booth had to simply help the group out, keep possession flowing, and avoid mistakes. He delivered on that front, and will probably show more against a foe that isn’t so obviously lacking on the opposite flank.
Sub: Johnny Cardoso – No rating
Like Zendejas, Cardoso’s entry as a substitute cap-tied the Brazilian-American. He replaced de la Torre in central midfield in the 75th minute, but really didn’t have much to do in a game that was completely wrapped up by the time he came in.
2023 CONCACAF Nations League; USA v Grenada: What We Learned
The USMNT got back into the 2023 CONCACAF Nations League with a commanding 7-1 win over Grenada. Here’s What We Learned.
By Adnan Ilyas@Adnan7631 Mar 26, 2023, 12:26pm PDT
The United States Men’s National Team went down to St. George’s in Grenada for the team’s third match for this edition of the CONCACAF Nation’s League group stage and walked away with a dominant 7-1 result. The goals came early and quickly. Ricard Pepi headed home a cross from Christian Pulisic in the 4th minute to grab the lead. Goals from Brendan Aaronson and Weston McKennie brought the score to three, before Grenada took advantage of a switched-off US side to grab a goal and bring the side to 3-1. However, the goal ultimately merely served as a footnote as the Americans continued to score. McKennie scored a second to close out the half. After the break, goals from Christian Pulisic, Pepi (his second), and substitute Alejandro Zendejas brought the game to 7-1. It was a dominant and confident showing for the USMNT. They will close out the Nations League group stage on Monday, March 27, for a home match v. El Salvador. So long as the team can manage a draw, they will advance to the Nations League finals over the summer.
Going into the new World Cup cycle, the single major question hanging over the USMNT program is over who the new management will be. The absences of a sporting director and a permanent manager unfortunately give every game a kind of asterisk as things will necessarily change once the positions are filled.
However, there are still a few positional needs that clearly need to be addressed:
- Identify positions where players may need to be phased in/out
- Clarify the depth at Left Back
- Fill out the midfield depth chart
- Identify a starter at striker
Did we learn anything about any of these issues? Well, despite the low level of opposition and the flux at the management level, we kind of got some data points about at least some of these points. Let’s get into it.
A new World Cup Cycle means, of course, transitioning players in and transitioning players out. Players get older. For younger players, the passage of time brings the potential for maturation and sophistication. But for older players, it means a potential decline. Every national team program needs to manage this transition. And failure to do so can create significant problems (an aging squad was part of the problem in the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup).
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With that said, the following players from the 2022 World Cup will be over 30 by the tournament 2026:
Tim Ream (Will be 39 by June 11, 2026)
Sean Johnson (38)
Walker Zimmerman (34)
Aaron Long (34)
DeAndre Yedlin (33)
Matt Turner (32)
Cristian Roldan (32)
Jordan Morris (32)
Kellyn Acosta (31)
We might as well add the following two players who played during qualifying:
Paul Arriola (32)
Jordan Pefok (31)
Now, not all of these players will need to be phased out. Depending on position and play style, individual players may maintain a high level of ability as they age, even into their late 30’s. For instance, at 35, Tim Ream managed to not only go to his first ever World Cup with the US, but he proved to be one of the team’s most consistent and influential players at the tournament. In particular, I expect Matt Turner will remain an influential figure through this cycle.
With that said, some of these players will decline, while young players will improve and being to more seriously compete for spots. A transition does still need to be made, and this game served to start some of that. Yes, the competition is not good. But this does give a chance for players to get familiar with the program and develop chemistry.
Auston Trusty and Taylor Booth each received their first caps, while a further 4 players with under 5 caps played. Those spots were concentrated in defense, with Trusty, Bryan Reynolds, and Joe Scally playing. Which makes sense given that defense is where players aging out is the biggest issue. On the other hand, this gave Scally room to grow into a potential Left back role that I mentioned earlier. All told, I would say it was a good-fine performance for everyone, though, given the competition, I don’t really have anything of note to say about them in particular.
Reyna at Midfield
I do have something to say about Gio Reyna, however.
The kid has come under the microscope with his parent’s meddling causing and then becoming the subject of a USSF investigation, even as young Gio has seen his minutes limited with his club, Burussia Dortmund. As for his status with the national team is concerned, I think the best approach is to defer to the coaching staff. Ultimately, what is best for the team is to manage the locker room and young Reyna’s relationship with the team and the other players. And the staff are by far the best ones to make that call.
Now, as for how Reyna played…
This game marked the start of Reyna’s career as a Center Attacking Mid, at least with the USMNT. Many have long called for Reyna to be fielded in this position given his play-style and his occasional* appearances at the spot with his club. And having Reyna as an option at midfield is useful as that gives the team a potential different look and fills out the depth chart at a spot of need. However, I have long been a skeptic of this potential position swap for several reasons.
*WhoScored lists Reyna as having played as a left or right sided attacking midfielder this season, never as a central player. I don’t know what to tell you.
Now, how did this positional wrinkle play out?
Well, he definitely was in attacking spots on the field and not on the wings. I’ll say that much.
This pass map isn’t bad, per se. Rather, it hints at limitations of what Reyna brought to the role. To back up for a second, the important context here is that this was a one-sided rout. All the starting attacking players got goals or assists.
Ricardo Pepi scored twice.
Christian Pulisic got a goal and 2 assists (3 if you want to include McKennie’s first goal) and set up another 2 with set piece delivery
Brendan Aaronson scored once
Weston McKennie got two goals off of set pieces
Luca de la Torre got 2 assists
Alex Zendejas scored once as a substitute
That is every single starting attacking or midfield player (plus a substitute) on the score sheet … except Reyna.
Indeed, Reyna registered no shots, nor did he have any tackles. For me, Center Attacking Midfielders are all about registering assists and goals. They are there to be a direct or indirect goal threat. And Reyna just wasn’t, even though everyone around him was. While Reyna combined fine with the players around him, he didn’t advance play towards goal. He didn’t really set his teammates up into space. And he didn’t use his own personal skill to create chances.
Actually, the goal by Brenan Aaronson really stood out to me for this.
Aaronson received the ball in the middle of the field, exactly where Reyna ought to be. Aaronson found a pocket of space with a bit of skill and then rifled home a shot… which is basically exactly what Reyna’s skill set is. I would comfortably say that Reyna is better at this exact kind of play. Yet it’s Aaronson finding the space and linking up and scoring, not Reyna.
The way that Reyna plays in general with the national team is that he generally floats around, position-less. It doesn’t really matter to him where he’s actually supposed to be, the position are more like suggestions to him. In general, he moves towards the ball and asks to have it on his feet.
When Reyna plays as a winger, usually on the right for the US, this means he comes inside. This naturally transforms the team’s midfield trio into a quartet, giving more options in the middle of the field to hold possession and build towards goal. But when Reyna is already in the midfield, you don’t get that extra player pinching in to create a numbers advantage. In this game, Reyna’s penchant to try and get on the ball actually created something of a problem as you can see on the pass map. Instead of being actually in the middle, he’s pinched towards Christian Pulisic on the left. In turn, Aaronson is coming way into the middle of the field, essentially covering Reyna’s spot. In this game, this doesn’t matter as Grenada is not able to do much of anything to even block the US from going up the field. But against a better team, with only the right back left to provide width, that kind of narrowness will make it easier for the opposition to block the USMNT.
Yeah, ok, Reyna didn’t have the best attacking performance and it didn’t show up on the score sheet. So what?
Well, that is only one problem. Reyna is also not a great link-up player. At center midfield, you want players who can connect the midfield lines with the attacking ones. And the problem here is that the other players are consistently bypassing Reyna to get to Pulisic. Both McKennie and de la Torre have more passes to Pulisic than to Reyna, and frankly, it’s not particularly close. What you want is for your attacking midfielder to serve as a platform that allows the attacking players to get on the ball inside the final third. But here, Pulisic is doing that, not Reyna. And that begs the question, what is Reyna doing on that spot of the field? What is the point of playing him there if he is not generating attacking momentum, if he’s not serving as a connector between the midfield and attack, and he’s not aggressively pressing and defending?
It bears repeating, this is but one game, against one well-overmatched opponent. This is a data point, not a conclusion. Maybe Reyna will be an excellent midfield player in the future. But this game was evidence that suggests otherwise.
This game marked a triumphant return for Luca de la Torre. de la Torre didn’t play at all in the World Cup despite making the squad, presumably due to an injury he was recovering from. However, this game was a welcome display of talent. This team needs more dependable options at midfield, and seeing de la Torre succeed again is a welcome sight indeed.
Man, does Alejandro Zendejas look fun. This game officially cap-tied the player to the US. Zendejas was heavily pursued by Mexico, who even fielded him for two senior team friendlies, breaking FIFA rules in the process. Zendejas was rewarded for his choice with the first goal of his international career. Winger is the USMNT’s deepest position, with Pulisic, Reyna, Aaronson, and the injured Tim Weah all competing for just two spots. But at 25, Zendejas fits right into that age-profile with Pulisic, Adams, and McKennie. With Jordan Morris, Paul Arriola, and Cristian Roldan all entering their 30’s before the next World Cup, this might be Zendejas’ opportunity to take one of their spots.
Ricardo Pepi got back into scoring form with 2 in this game. These were his first goals since scoring two against Jamaica all the way back in October 2021. Striker remains the biggest question mark out of all the positions and I would personally love to see a rejuvenated Pepi make that spot his own. That said…
The US and Anthony are apparently going recruiting…
Folarin Balogun, striker for French club Reims on loan from Arsenal, would instantly be a candidate for USMNT striker. I, of course, plead caution — and respect — when it comes to dual nationals. But there seems to be a lot of smoke and it’s kinda getting a bit warm here.
Even as this camp is underway, MLS is still playing and American players are putting up performances. This camp clearly served as a chance for foreign-based players to get a look in what otherwise are not the biggest of tests. Only Miles Robinson, who did not play v. Grenada, was called up from MLS. At the same time, you have players in MLS performing well. Brandon Vazquez scored his first goal, while Jordan Morris scored 4 (!!!!) times. We presumably will get another look at some of these players when the US plays a friendly v. Mexico for a non-FIFA date in April.
Congratulations go to Anthony Hudson for marking his first win as Head Coach of the USMNT, and in a competitive match, too. That must be a big honor for the English American coach, never mind the interim tag.
The USMNT returns for a match v. El Salvador on Monday, A win or a draw would be enough to make a return to the Nations League knockout rounds.
Christian Pulisic, USMNT dominant in 7-1 win over Grenada: What’s next?
By Paul Tenorio Mar 24, 2023
Star winger Christian Pulisic was involved in five of the U.S. men’s national team’s seven goals as it left little doubt in a dominant 7-1 win over Grenada on Friday night in the CONCACAF Nations League.
It will be difficult to read too much into the result for the U.S. The highest club level in Grenada’s starting lineup was winger Regan Charles-Cook, who plays in the Belgian first division. Other teammates play in England’s League Two, the third division, and others play at a semi-professional level. They proved no match for a U.S. team that started several of its biggest stars, including Premier League players Weston McKennie, Brenden Aaronson and Pulisic, all of whom scored, and a striker who was sold for $20 million, Ricardo Pepi, who netted twice.
It was the first time in program history that the U.S. scored seven goals in a game away from home, according to Opta.
The U.S. defeated this Grenada side 5-0 at home last June, and Friday’s game was similarly out of reach. The U.S. had the ball for long stretches of the game and Pulisic caused havoc on his side of the field. He assisted Pepi for the game’s opening goal on a cross in the fourth minute, found Aaronson for the second goal in the 20th, drew a free kick and provided the service for McKennie’s first goal in the 31st and then sent in another set piece in the 34th minute that led to McKennie’s second and a 4-1 lead for the U.S. at the half.
Pulisic scored four minutes into the second half to cap his dominant performance and Pepi made it 6-1 four minutes later. Pulisic exited a few minutes after the hour mark. Alejandro Zendejas netted his first goal for the U.S. in the 73rd minute to put an exclamation mark on the night, curling a shot from outside the box to complete the scoring.
With the result, the U.S. needs only a home draw against El Salvador on Monday to advance to the Nations League semifinals in June.
How did Gio Reyna play?
Reyna got the start against Grenada, his first with the U.S. since Sept. 27, 2022, against Saudi Arabia.
Reyna was immediately inserted into the first XI by interim manager Anthony Hudson in the first official international window since the World Cup. Reyna was nearly sent home by the sporting staff in Qatar due to his approach to training ahead of the team’s first match, but eventually ended up playing a substitute role against England and the Netherlands in Qatar.
Since the World Cup, Reyna and his family have been at the center of a major controversy involving former U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter. Reyna has not yet spoken to the media this week, but Hudson and U.S. teammates said the 20-year-old has reintegrated smoothly into the team during training in Orlando.
“I think the biggest thing for us as a leadership and all the guys in camp is to see that he’s working hard, training hard, that he’s wanting to be here,” veteran center back Tim Ream said. “And up to this point it’s been nothing but positive.”
Reyna started in a central role for the U.S. against Grenada and played 64 minutes before being subbed out for Taylor Booth. The Dortmund midfielder didn’t get much of the game against Grenada, with much of the action found in space out on the wings as Grenada sat deep and tried to absorb pressure.
There was excitement, though, for Reyna simply to get a run in a central role after playing as a winger in the previous cycle.
“We wanted to give (Gio) a little bit more freedom,” Hudson said. “I think when you see Gio receiving the ball in between the midfield and the defensive line facing forward, (he’s an) amazing, incredibly dangerous player. … I thought he played really well tonight.”
The U.S. will face El Salvador on Monday in Orlando in the deciding game of the Nations League group. The U.S. has never lost or tied at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium and will look to get a result against Los Cuscatlecos to secure its spot in the semifinals.
The U.S. will likely look a bit different in Monday’s game. Hudson opted for a younger back line against Grenada, likely expecting to face very little pressure. Joe Scally, Mark McKenzie, Auston Trusty and Bryan Reynolds started on Friday, and it’s likely veterans like Antonee Robinson, Tim Ream, Miles Robinson and Sergiño Dest will get starts against El Salvador.
The U.S. got a 1-1 draw on the road in El Salvador in a Nations League game in June and has lost just once to them in competition — a 2-0 friendly defeat in 1992.
A result will allow the U.S. to continue the defense of the inaugural Nations League title it won last year with a thrilling 3-2 win over Mexico. The semifinals and finals will be held in Las Vegas on June 15 and June 18, respectively.
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When it comes to the USMNT coach, it really doesn’t matter who takes the gig
Mar 24, 2023
- Ryan O’HanlonESPN.com writer
In the eyes of many a United States Men’s National Team fan, the ideal future looks something like this:
The United States Soccer Federation finally learns the right lesson from the Jurgen Klinsmann era. Rather than retreat inward and fill the USMNT apparatus with former USMNT-ers who’ve never achieved the success that the fans want this team to achieve, they give the keys to an outsider — just, you know, an outsider who isn’t completely clueless and actively destructive in the same way that Klinsmann was. They hire, say, someone like Carlo Ancellotti or perhaps Mauricio Pochettino or maybe Jose Mourinho or, I don’t know, if you want to get wild, Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp.
The specific name is less important than the archetype: a well-respected, supremely successful manager with a European background. With someone who has succeeded in a Big Five European league and won games in the Champions League, the most talented generation of American soccer players would be trained and then arranged on the field in a way that would finally allow these precocious stars to compete with the Frances and Brazils of the world. Throw in some home-field advantage in 2026, and hey: Why can’t they win the whole thing?
While the 2026 World Cup will be the USMNT’s best-ever chance at making a deep run in the tournament, it won’t be because they hire a big-name manager. Of course, they need to hire someone: Anthony Hudson, a Gregg Berhalter assistant and former Colorado Rapids manager, is the interim coach for these CONCACAF Nations League games against Grenada and El Salvador, and who knows beyond that.
But given the recent history among the top national teams in the world, a star coach isn’t realistic. It also probably wouldn’t make that much of a difference.
Who manages the major national teams?
To briefly defend the completely unrealistic expectations among a large part of the USMNT fanbase, the USSF does have a lot of money. The USMNT managerial gig could be one of the highest-paid coaching positions in international soccer — if the federation wants it to be. Money might not be the main driver for every coach, but it’s typically one of the major factors in determining who gets to hire whom.
Given that, I’d say there are nine jobs that are clearly more prestigious/better than the USMNT coaching job. Let’s run through each one and look at who the current coach is and the two guys who came before him. (We’re including only current coaches and then two prior coaches who managed at least 15 matches.) This should give us a better sense of what a realistic hire for the USMNT would be.
Brazil (no. 1 in FIFA rankings)
– Manager: Ramon Menezes (interim, hired in 2023)
– Preceded by: Tite (2016-22), Dunga (2014-16)
“Brazil manager” is the job that the most delusional USMNT supporters think the U.S. job is and, well, Brazil is the team that most resembles what the USMNT might be had this country really played soccer for the past 100-plus years. It’s a massive, soccer-obsessed country with more talent than anywhere else in the world. And yet, Brazil has never had a foreign-born manager.
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Rumors of Pep Guardiola taking over some day continue to persist, and Brazil would fit the mold of all the other teams Guardiola has coached: uber-talented sides that he took from one of the best to the best. That said, it’s not like Brazil have been turning away superstar coaches left and right.
The current manager is former U20 coach Ramon Menezes, who took over for Tite. The latter became Brazil manager after a nomadic career that included multiple stints in the United Arab Emirates and a Copa Libertadores title with Corinthians. Before Tite came Dunga, who was fired after the 2010 World Cup and then rehired after the 2014 World Cup. Outside of his two stints with the national team, he has one other season of professional managerial experience.
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Argentina (no. 2)
– Manager: Lionel Scaloni (hired in 2018)
– Preceded by: Jorge Sampaoli (2017-18), Edgardo Bauza (2016-17)
Guess how many professional games Scaloni coached before taking over Argentina and ultimately leading them to a Copa America and then a World Cup victory? That’s right: Zero.
Scaloni was an assistant under Sampaoli at Sevilla and then followed him to Argentina when they left the Spanish club after one season. Before Sevilla, Sampaoli managed Chile, whom he led to their first-ever Copa America title in 2015. Other than his run with Chile, he has never lasted anywhere else for more than two seasons. He was just fired — again — by Sevilla, who are two points clear of the relegation zone in Spain.
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Before Sampaoli, Bauza lasted for a year with Argentina as the team nearly missed out on qualification for the 2018 World Cup under his watch. He also spent time in the UAE before taking over the Albiceleste. He won the Copa Libertadores with Argentine club San Lorenzo in 2014 and Ecuadorian club Liga de Quito in 2008. Both were club-firsts.
France (no. 3)
– Manager: Didier Deschamps (hired in 2012)
– Preceded by: Laurent Blanc (2010-12), Raymond Domenech (2004-10)
It feels like Deschamps has been France manager forever and in coaching years, that’s basically true. Before taking over Les Bleus in 2012, he won Ligue 11 with Marseille, spent a year with Juventus in Serie B after the club was relegated, and brought Monaco to the Champions League semifinals.
Deschamps replaced Laurent Blanc, who took over the France job after three years with Bordeaux, where he, in consecutive seasons: 1) finished second, 2) won Ligue 1, and 3) made the Champions League quarterfinals. Before Blanc’s two years in charge, the Zodiac-curious Raymond Domenech lasted for six years as France manager. Previously, he’d spent 11 years as France’s U21 manager.
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England (no. 5)
– Manager: Gareth Southgate (hired in 2016)
– Preceded by: Roy Hodgson (2012-16), Fabio Capello (2008-12)
England have run through pretty much all the national-team-manager archetypes here: you’ve got an inexperienced interim-turned-full-time coach in Southgate. Hodgson is the unspectacular, but successful, native lifer. And then there’s Capello, the foreigner who’d won just about everything.
Southgate was managing the England U21s before he became England manager. The year before taking over England, Hodgson led West Bromwich Albion to a club-best 10th-place finish in the Premier League. Two years before, he’d flamed out at Liverpool in barely half of a season. Capello, meanwhile, had just won LaLiga with Real Madrid.
Netherlands (no. 6)
– Manager: Ronald Koeman (hired in 2023, second stint)
– Preceded by: Louis van Gaal (2021-22, third stint), Frank de Boer (2020-21)
Before taking over the Netherlands, Koeman was somewhere between a disaster and a fall guy at Barcelona. He was the Netherlands’ manager for two years before that and struggled at Everton for a year-and-change before that.
Van Gaal is a legend in the game, but he hadn’t coached for five years before coming out of retirement to take over the national team for the third time at the 2022 World Cup. In his 20 games in charge, they didn’t lose a single game. (Shootouts don’t count.) Before van Gaal, de Boer had taken over after managing Atlanta United for two seasons. What was he doing in MLS? He was fired by Crystal Palace after just five matches in charge — after being fired by Inter Milan after 14 games in charge.
Italy (no. 8)
– Manager: Roberto Mancini (hired in 2018)
– Preceded by: Gian Piero Ventura (2016-17), Antonio Conte (2014-16)
Although Mancini had previous success with both Inter Milan and Manchester City, he wasn’t some hot coaching candidate when he became Italy manager. Instead, he’d spent the previous year finishing fifth in the Russian Premier League with Zenit St. Petersburg. Mancini replaced Ventura after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup and the best way to describe Ventura is, well, as the Roy Hodgson of Italy.
Current contretemps at Spurs aside, Conte is truly one of the best managers in world soccer, and he took over Italy at the peak of his powers — between a run of Serie A titles with Juventus and a Premier League trophy with Chelsea. However, this was something of a marriage of convenience: Italy needed a new coach after the 2014 World Cup, while Conte was out of a job and only really looking for something short-term. He was named Chelsea manager months before Euro 2016 while he was still managing Italy.
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Portugal (no. 9)
– Manager: Roberto Martinez (hired in 2023)
– Preceded by: Fernando Santos (2014-22), Paulo Bento (2010-14)
Martinez hasn’t coached in club soccer since 2016, when he was fired by Everton. He spent the past six years with Belgium as they rose all the way up to no. 1 in the FIFA rankings. If you want to credit him for that, then this might seem like a good hire that the U.S. missed out on. If you want to credit that to the development of an all-time-great golden generation of players, then Martinez is merely another unspectacular club coach who had to make his way to the international game in search of success.
Before Martinez, there was Fernando Santos, who had spent most of his managerial career in Greece — both with the national team and various domestic clubs. Santos replaced Bento, who helped establish Sporting Lison as a consistent Champions League qualifier in his four years with the club prior to signing up with the national team.
Spain (no. 10)
– Manager: Luis de la Fuente (hired in 2022)
– Preceded by: Luis Enrique (2019-22), Julen Lopetegui (2016-18)
Luis Enrique resigned soon after Spain were eliminated from the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup, and he was replaced, essentially, with his polar opposite. After a brief stint with Alaves, de la Fuente has spent the past decade coaching Spain at various youth levels.
Enrique, of course, managed one of the greatest soccer teams of all time: the Lionel Messi–Luis Suarez–Neymar edition of Barcelona. He won every possible trophy across his three seasons at the Camp Nou and then spent the past four years as Spain manager. At some point soon, it seems likely he’ll be coaching one of Europe’s biggest clubs once again.
Before Enrique, Lopetegui came from a similar-ish mold to de la Fuente. He’d managed various Spanish youth national teams for four years before an ill-fated stint at Porto that somehow brought him to the Spain job. In Portugal, he didn’t win a single trophy and was fired halfway through his second season with the club.
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Germany (no. 14)
– Manager: Hansi Flick (hired in 2021)
– Preceded by: Jogi Low (2006-21), Jurgen Klinsmann (2004-06)
It’s easier to start backward here. A German legend, Klinsmann was given the job in 2004 despite no previous managerial experience, and he oversaw a somewhat unexpected deep run to the semifinals in 2006 at a tournament the Germans hosted. However, it soon became pretty clear that his No. 2 and eventual replacement, Jogi Low, was the brains behind the operation as Klinsmann has been a disaster at every job he has taken since. Good luck, South Korea.
Before becoming Klinsmann’s assistant, Low managed a bunch of random European clubs to not much notoriety but then lasted for 15 years as Germany manager, leading the country to its fourth World Cup title. In 2006, Low had hired Flick as an assistant. He spent 11 years working in various roles for the national team before leaving for Bayern Munich: first as Niko Kovac’s assistant, then as his replacement. With Bayern, Flick won the Champions League in 2020, along with every other possible trophy. He then left Munich after the 2020-21 season to take over for Low.
Who the USMNT could hire — and why it won’t matter as much as you think
As mentioned, there are roughly three kinds of coaches in there: unspectacular journeymen, former national team players with little to no managerial experience, and elite coaches. It’s just that, well, the latter category is the smallest one. Three of them — Flick, Conte, and Enrique — left the club game only because they had the opportunity to coach their native countries. One of them, van Gaal, came out of retirement only because of the opportunity to coach his native country. And the fifth and final guy, Capello, was on his last legs.
More importantly, none of them were all that successful at the World Cup. Flick went home in the group stages in Qatar while Enrique lost in the round of 16, just like Capello did in 2010. Conte didn’t coach a World Cup, and while the general impression is that his side did overachieve at Euro 2016, they still only made it to the quarterfinals — the same round the U.S. went out in Qatar.
Pulisic backs Berhalter return for USMNT, but Herc Gomez disagrees
Herculez Gomez thinks bringing Gregg Berhalter back as head coach of the USMNT would be a terrible idea.
Most of the time, the world’s richest and most prestigious national federations are not even hiring from the top of the managerial heap. You’re usually looking at a moderately successful domestic coach, or taking a flier on a former youth-team coach. Any foreign coaches available are not likely to be the kinds of in-demand managers who you can be confident will actually improve your team’s results far beyond its talent level.
Given all of that, it seems like the options for the U.S. will be something like running it back with Berhalter, scooping up an accomplished-but-out-of-a-job American in Europe like Jesse Marsch, or taking a shot on a big name with little-to-no impressive managerial experience (see: Henry, Thierry).
OK, so perhaps that’s not an inspiring list, but just look at those 27 names we went over. It’s also not an inspiring list!
The best coaches still want to coach club teams because of the (largely) better pay and because it gives you an opportunity to actually coach: to develop players, to train every day, to cultivate relationships between your players. For national-team coaches, the gig is mainly about managing egos, selecting the right players, trying to convince the odd dual-national to play for you, and then selecting the right game-to-game strategy.
Most research that has attempted to quantify the importance of managers has come to the same conclusion.
“The vast majority of papers out there say coaches don’t matter,” Luke Bornn, now a co-owner of both Toulouse and AC Milan, told me. “I’m oversimplifying, but that’s basically it.”
There are some clearly terrible coaches, some clearly great ones and then most of the coaches are essentially indistinguishable from each other in how they affect a team’s long-term performance. Almost all of the coaches who you can confidently say will make any collection of players better as soon as they arrive — Guardiola, Klopp and a couple of others — are not going to be coaching national teams.
Instead, what really matters is the players.
Italy won the World Cup right at the tail end of Serie A’s dominance over Europe. Spain won the World Cup as Barcelona and Real Madrid were reestablishing themselves as the two biggest clubs in the world. Germany did the same while Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund were frequently making deep runs in the Champions League. France took it home in 2018 because Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann all played for the same team. And Argentina did it in 2022 because the greatest soccer player of all time, Lionel Messi, was born in Argentina.
Will Christian Pulisic stay healthy? Can Gio Reyna ever get healthy? Will Sergino Dest find a club team that wants him? Can Brenden Aaronson develop any skills beyond “runs around a lot”? Will Folarin Balogun decide to play for the USMNT? Can Yunus Musah become a true star? What’s next for Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie? Might some of the prospects dotted across the academies of the best clubs in Europe make the leap over the next four years? Center backs and center midfielders, anyone?
“Who will be the next USMNT coach?” is an important question, but not nearly as much as any of those.
USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen finally finds peace after pain of missing World Cup
By Paul Tenoriob Mar 24, 2023
More than four months ago, Zack Steffen woke up from a nap to text messages from then-U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter asking if they could talk. He hasn’t fully shaken off the memory of the ensuing call — when he was told he would not be on the U.S. World Cup team.“I think about it every day,” Steffen said this week. “It definitely hurt. It definitely took a chunk of armor, for sure.”Steffen is back with the U.S. team for the first time since that fateful day, and he arrived in camp in top form from Middlesbrough. It was evident during his half-hour sit down with The Athletic in the lobby of a hotel in Central Florida that Steffen is in a good place, but it has not been an easy road to get to this point.The 27-year-old goalkeeper went home to Pennsylvania during the World Cup in which he thought he would be playing. There, his absence from the roster was an unavoidable topic with friends, family and acquaintances. He watched U.S. games with his family — “It was hard,” he said — and then finally returned to his club determined to find a path back to peace.Steffen said that a deeper connection to his faith has been crucial in finding his way out of disappointment.“It took a good couple of months to kind of remove that salt and bitterness in my mouth,” Steffen said. “But I fully believe that we all have our own paths. And there are some downs and challenges, and we all have these expectations and desires for our lives, and God has different plans for us on different paths. He has helped me get through this more than anything. And I’m thankful for Him, to have that type of faith. Because without that, it would have been a lot harder to kind of maneuver those deep waters.”Steffen’s exclusion from the World Cup roster came as a shock to many who had charted his path to the national team.The former University of Maryland goalkeeper played for Berhalter with the Columbus Crew from 2017-19 before being sold to Manchester City for a fee of up to $10 million. Steffen started 17 games for the U.S. from 2019-21. He entered the first World Cup qualifying camp in Sept. 2021 as the expected starter in goal but woke up with back spasms the day before the opening game against El Salvador and Matt Turner stepped into the starting role.Still, Steffen seemed to be the preferred goalkeeper for Berhalter. He returned to the starting lineup for the home qualifier against Costa Rica in October, then started against Mexico at home in November. He was also the starter in net in San Jose, Costa Rica when the U.S. qualified for the World Cup in March 2022.
But when the U.S. gathered for games last June, their penultimate camp before the World Cup, Steffen pulled out of contention. At the time, it was announced he was out due to “family reasons.” Steffen said this week that he called out at the last minute due to his mental health at the time.
“The most I’ll say is I was just not in a good headspace, I was not loving myself,” Steffen said. “I was not doing the things that I needed to do in order to really be on the field and stay on the field, and just not treating my body the way I should have been. And I needed to just be with family and take the time to get home.“We all know life is hard. We all have our trauma. I have trauma from growing up that was coming up and surfacing and that I needed to address and that I’m still addressing. And it was a very hard decision, it was a late decision to not go out to camp, but I knew that in order to have a successful and a healthy season this season, I knew that I needed to address those traumas. So that’s why I pulled out of camp, in order to kind of sacrifice for the future.”
The decision to not go to camp may have contributed to Berhalter’s decision to leave Steffen out of the team going to Qatar. Steffen told the Philadelphia Inquirer his decision to miss that summer camp was “a shock” to Berhalter.At the end of the summer, Steffen left Manchester City in search of more playing time. He landed at ‘Boro on loan, and the hope was that consistent minutes would keep him firmly in the picture for the U.S. But he missed the September friendlies, as well, in the months leading up to the World Cup. Steffen returned from an injury just days before that camp to play for Middlesbrough but did not get the call-up for games against Japan and Saudi Arabia.
Photo by Alex Dodd via Getty Images
Two months later, on the day of a Middlesbrough game on the road against Blackpool on Nov. 8, Steffen woke up and saw the texts from Berhalter. The coach had opted for three goalkeepers who had been consistently in the picture for the U.S. during the cycle — Turner, Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson. Stunned by the decision, Steffen said he leaned heavily into his faith over the last year and a half, and that it was crucial for his ability to recover.“My faith has been a very big part of me this season, and growing in my faith, I focus on that,” Steffen said. “So that definitely helped me navigate this challenge. I’ve been trying to use the whole World Cup, not going, just as motivation.”Steffen seems to have found a balance. He has helped Middlesbrough push up the Championship standings into third place and is in a good position to fight for promotion to the Premier League. They sit just three points behind Sheffield United for automatic promotion, though with one more game played. For Steffen, getting promoted with ‘Boro has become his main focus. It’s driven him to become a better goalkeeper, he said. It has also been a huge part of his development in what is still a key growth stage for a goalkeeper. Steffen got limited minutes at Man City and every performance — good or bad — was under a microscope. He said he learned under manager Pep Guardiola not to let either type of energy or outing sway him too much. “I feel like I’m very much at peace with all the negativity,” he said. “I finally feel like this year I’m at peace with whatever happens and it’s part of my path. I don’t need outsiders to like me. I know myself and my game and my goalkeeping and I’m gonna use my staff and my coaches and our players to kind of push me through to get better.”
His goals, he said, are simple: Get promoted with Middlesbrough, be a starter in the Premier League and win trophies. He told the Inquirer it’s unlikely he’ll go back to Manchester City because he wants to keep getting games.He also noted that a big part of his goal setting is to be back in the national team consistently — and as a starter. The U.S. has several upcoming camps this summer, with both Nations League and Gold Cup, and Steffen said he wants to be a part of all of the games. He knows he’s in competition with Turner for the starting job, but that, unlike the last cycle, he’s coming into these camps as the No. 2 trying to unseat the starter.Steffen said the camaraderie between goalkeepers in the camp is strong, but after missing out on Qatar, he is intent on being in the squad for 2026.“I’m 100% committed to this team,” Steffen said. “I was thinking on the way from the airport to the hotel about when I would go to camp from Columbus, like, ‘Wow, that was forever ago.’ Time flies. And so now I’m really, really focused on just living in the moment, enjoying the time and just making sure I put in all the work that I can to stay healthy and to be at my best so that I can keep coming back. “I’m not gonna be able to play the sport forever, to dive around the goal and all that forever. So really just try and enjoy it and take it all in and play as much as I can before I gotta hang up the boots on the wall.”
Yunus Musah is excelling for USMNT but is he coming to a crossroads at Valencia?
By Dermot Corrigan and Thom Harrisar 24, 2023
After some personal and collective highs with the USA at last year’s World Cup, Yunus Musah returned to find his club Valencia were going through yet another of their dramatic transitional seasons.
Valencia actually started 2022-23 very positively — in early September, then U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter came to Mestalla to see Musah provide two assists in a 5-1 win. It was his standout performance of the season, and maybe of his entire Valencia html
During the first months of Gattuso’s reign at Valencia, there was lots of energy and optimism around the club. But after the World Cup break, reality caught up with the youngest squad in the Primera Division, and a coach whose tactical approach did not suit many of his players.
Musah was arguably one of these. Gattuso wanted him to come deep and get involved in building intricate moves from his own half, whereas many at Valencia believe his biggest strengths are his physique and ability to carry the ball through the lines.
Gattuso’s replacement Ruben Baraja has brought a much more pragmatic (or basic) tactical approach. The team are now defending a lot deeper, taking fewer risks with the ball in their own half, and looking to play more on the counter-attack.
Of course, numbers from Valencia’s 26 La Liga games so far in 2022-23 are skewed towards the 21 matches Gattuso was in charge of. This season, Musah is averaging just 0.37 carries into the penalty area per 90, as opposed to 1.4 the season before when the super-pragmatic Jose Bordalas was on the bench.
Musah’s carries into the final third have also increased slightly, suggesting that these bursting, powerful runs that US fans will be familiar with are mainly to progress his team into opposition territory, not to break dangerously into the opposition penalty box.
His 2022-23 carry map below measures carries of more than 20 yards – it shows how often he’s taking the ball over large distances, but how they’re largely ending in wide areas or distant central areas. Given how productive he can be for the USMNT team when driving forward in possession, this is arguably down to a general lack of direction in Valencia’s playing style, rather than any individual failing on the player’s part.
In less than three seasons in the Valencia senior side, Musah has already had five different coaches. So many changes in tactics, team shapes and the position he plays (holding midfield, attacking midfield, winger), will not have helped his development.
It should be a benefit that former midfielder Baraja has chosen a 4-3-3 quite similar to what Musah is used to with the USMNT, and is using him in the ‘interior’ or number 8 role he also fills for his national side. He still often drifts out to the right side, as shown by his touch map below, while pretty much covering every blade of grass on the pitch.
The lack of a fixed position could be argued to be affecting Musah’s productivity – his only assists in La Liga this season were the two against Getafe back in September. He has yet to score for his club this term, despite 17 shots, 10 of which came from outside the penalty area.A look at the smarterscout data profile below shows where his strengths and weaknesses lie, and also suggests that the recent change of coach at club level should benefit him.
His numbers for progressive passing and ball retention do not suggest a good fit with Gattuso’s desire for midfielders to build moves from deep to move the team up the pitch, though his defending impact (83 out of 99) does illustrate his use in the counter-pressing system that the Italian favoured.The graphic shows that Musah is an excellent ball carrier, who thrives on the transition with space to run into. He combines speed, athleticism and dynamic movement to be a box-to-box midfielder affecting both ends of the pitch; he arrives and receives in the box (96 out of 99) and has an above-average defending intensity (64 out of 99).
This all looks ideal for Baraja’s counter-attacking plan, and, in theory, more goals and assists should come soon.
Musah was an Arsenal academy product before moving to Spain in the summer of 2019. Within 18 months of arrival, his progress was rewarded with a new long-term contract tying him to Valencia until 2026.
Nevertheless, the club’s owners have made no secret of a policy of developing young players for profitable sales in the market, whether Musah, Portuguese midfielder Andre Almeida or Georgian goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili. Indeed, Musah’s name popped up in potential alternatives that Liverpool might consider should they miss out on Jude Bellingham this summer. Reports in Italy have also claimed that Serie A clubs including Inter Milan have been watching him too.
Unlike in previous years when Valencia had to sell players from David Silva through Andre Gomes to Goncalo Guedes, this summer they should not need to raise significant money in the transfer market to stay within their La Liga salary budget. However, there will be some comings and goings this summer, as usual.
Musah’s contract has a release clause of €100 million, which no other club is realistically going to pay. A bid of around €40 million, if one were to arrive, would be difficult for Valencia to turn down. But their preferred option, given he only recently turned 20, is for him to continue to progress and potentially be sold for a lot more in two or three years’ time.
Meanwhile, Musah is seen as a “very strategic asset” for Valencia’s marketing and commercial activities, as growing their international fanbase and sponsorship revenues is a key objective for Lim and his board. When US broadcaster ESPN asked their audience which La Liga player they most wanted to follow after the World Cup, Musah gathered almost 50 per cent of the votes, well clear of second-placed Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski and third-placed Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid.
Valencia and La Liga themselves have looked to use that startling popularity, co-producing a documentary about his younger days and development.
On the pitch, Musah has become a vital member of the team over the last two years, whoever is coach. Only two outfielders — winger Samuel Lino and club captain Jose Gaya – have played more minutes for Valencia in La Liga so far in 2022-23 — impressive for a youngster at a foreign club, where turmoil is seemingly constant.
Baraja’s appointment has lifted the side, and they have won both home games under their new coach. Still, the 3-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid last weekend pushed Los Che back into the relegation zone.
The six La Liga games after the international break are against teams who are either out of form or also within the relegation struggle. This is either an opportunity for Musah and his side to climb clear of the bottom three, or could see them slip down into real danger of a first relegation since 1986.
The expectation at the club is that Baraja can bring the organisation and motivation required to achieve safety, and that his more direct and pragmatic tactics will be a positive for Musah. Those who know him at Valencia say he needs to play in a stable team, with confidence, and in the same position. And he should get that opportunity now.
But, longer term, this being Peter Lim’s Valencia, nothing can – or should – be ruled out.
Is Berhalter back in the mix for the USMNT? It’s complicated
March 21, 2023 10:36 am ET
Last week couldn’t have gone much better for Gregg Berhalter.
The now-former-and-maybe-future U.S. men’s national team head coach got quite the one-two punch of good news: First U.S. Soccer’s independent investigation found that Berhalter and his wife Rosalind were forthcoming about the details of a 1992 domestic violence incident, and there was no reason to believe any further instances had occurred.
U.S. Soccer concluded that Berhalter “remains a candidate to serve as head coach of the men’s national team.”
But there can be a big gulf between “remains a candidate” and “actually has a shot.” That gap, though, was significantly shortened after an interview Christian Pulisic gave to ESPN.
After calling the affair involving Claudio and Danielle Reyna “childish,” Pulisic was asked if he’d be comfortable with Berhalter getting his old job back.
“Yeah, no doubt, no doubt about it,” he said. “I think the strides that we’ve taken in recent years with him in charge, have been evident. I think it’s quite clear.”
Being cleared by an investigation is one thing, but seeing your normally reticent star give such a clear and public backing will give U.S. Soccer something to chew on.
But there are still quite a few steps before Berhalter gets his old job back. First and foremost, the person who will hire the new (or old) USMNT coach isn’t even in place yet.
U.S. Soccer has said interviews for its sporting director position are underway, with the hope that Earnie Stewart’s replacement is in place before the World Cup kicks off in July.
That would put U.S. Soccer right on its previously stated timeline of hiring a new USMNT coach by summer’s end. That is roughly as far from now as the USMNT’s pre-World Cup friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia. In other words: a while!
And much could happen in that span of time, most plausibly Berhalter being offered a different job.
Berhalter’s resume could make him intriguing to clubs in Europe: a lengthy playing career in the Netherlands and Germany as well as experience coaching in Europe with Hammarby. He would also, of course, be an appealing candidate for an ambitious MLS club.
As Berhalter himself said: “There are options.”
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
Assuming Berhalter isn’t spoken for by the time U.S. Soccer actually gets around to choosing a coach, there are still potential pitfalls to a theoretical reappointment.
One: Do any core players have lingering problems with Berhalter’s now-infamous HOW Institute speech?
Pulisic seems to be fine with it but others, most notably ex-USMNT star DaMarcus Beasley, have pointed to that speech as the moment Berhalter lost the locker room.
Beasley, of course, isn’t in that locker room anymore, but he may talk to people that are. In any case, U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said this weekend that USMNT players will be consulted on the hire. One wonders if Gio Reyna would be one of them.
The second issue is even more substantial, and will demand serious introspection from all parties. Yes, it’s about that 1992 incident.
U.S. Soccer’s independent investigation “cleared” Berhalter as much as it could have, but it’s hard to really declare victory when the underlying issue involves a confirmed case of domestic violence.
Should Berhalter emerge as a serious candidate by the summer, U.S. Soccer will have to ask itself an extremely thorny question: Does it want the leader of its national team on the biggest stage possible, a home World Cup, to have anything but a spotless record?
Yes, it was a drunken argument between teenagers, and Berhalter’s behavior since that moment appears to have been exemplary. But: it happened.
Excluding Berhalter on the basis of that moment feels unsettling, in part because it would give Claudio and Danielle Reyna what they wanted. But it would be pretty much the definition of Pyrrhic victory.
Berhalter certainly has options now. But, despite his very good week, there is a long way before coaching the USMNT again is one of them.
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