CONCACAF Gold Cup: US coach Gregg Berhalter on young squad’s success

United States national team head coach Gregg Berhalter prior to the friendly against Costa Rica. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
United States national team head coach Gregg Berhalter prior to the friendly against Costa Rica. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

Gregg Berhalter on the young national team

This CONCACAF Gold Cup is a bit more of a developmental one for the United States national team and head coach Gregg Berhalter. Given that the tournament is sandwiched between the inaugural Nations League and World Cup qualifying this fall, it necessarily ranks a bit lower in priority for the Americans than usual.

So a younger squad, with players battling for a role for this fall’s qualifiers, changes the importance of the Gold Cup a bit from being a trophy to win to a tournament whose importance is about finding players who can help the United States get into next year’s World Cup. And while Berhalter and his team obviously want to win, the experience gained from this tournament is far more important long-term to the national team program.

On Thursday, Berhalter talked to Sirius XM FC’s ‘Counter Attack’ about his team’s performance so far after topping their group and a match this weekend in the quarterfinals against Jamaica.

“I think you know I highlighted defensive transition being a key aspect of this tournament, you know, especially in Haiti or Martinique to a certain extent Canada with Buchanan -very fast. I thought we managed those moments fairly well,” Berhalter told the show.

“And then, and then I think, you know, the game against Canada on the second half we didn’t have the ball like we would want to have it. You know we gave up very few high quality chances. You know our expected goals were still more than theirs in that game, and you know I can’t recall a chance where you said okay, they should have scored that. You know had a lot of crosses in the box, which, by and large we defended well, and very few opportunities to really hurt us.”

Berhalter spoke with ‘Counter Attack’ hosts Tony Meola and Brian Dunseth on Thursday’s show. The popular show, produced by Andrew Williams (not the former Jamaican international) discusses a wide range of American soccer topics from the national teams to MLS as well as a healthy dose of international soccer.

Gregg Berhalter on his young player pool

One intriguing part of the Gold Cup was Gregg Berhalter’s decision to bring in a variety of young players and give them prominent roles on the roster. From Gianluca Busio and George Bello to James Sands, the impact of the young players in the group stage is certainly encouraging.

“It is, it’s certainly exciting when we’re able to do things like that, and you know, I think what we’re doing is turning a negative into a positive right? It’s a really congested summer, we have to prepare for World Cup qualifying, and it gives us the ability to look at a completely different player pool,” Berhalter said.

“And, you know, when I think about, you know, against Martinique, we played the youngest lineup ever and in a competitive game and that’s impressive.”

Berhalter also discussed the strong play of right back Shaq Moore in the Gold Cup.