Berhalter in Check and the USMNT's "Golden Generation" in Doubt

With fierce criticism and increasing pressure, can the US national team rise to the challenge?
Colombia v United States
Colombia v United States / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The recent 5-1 defeat of the United States Men's National Soccer Team (USMNT) against Colombia has sparked a wave of criticism and questions that put coach Gregg Berhalter and his team in a delicate position. The friendly match, which was supposed to serve as a warm-up for the Copa América, revealed worrying flaws and brought to light a series of issues that urgently need addressing before today's match against Brazil.

Gregg Berhalter, who signed a new contract through the 2026 World Cup, now faces unprecedented pressure. The home humiliation against Colombia ignited a fervent debate about his ability to lead the team. Berhalter admitted that the performance was "unacceptable" and "disappointing," acknowledging the lack of respect shown to the fans. He also emphasized that, being a friendly, the main objective was to prepare the team and gather valuable information.

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The most urgent question is whether Berhalter is truly in control of the situation or if his tactical approach is putting the team at risk. His insistent playing model, based on a high line and possession, proved vulnerable against elite opponents. Colombia exploited these weaknesses with ease, and now, with Brazil on the horizon, many question whether the team should adopt a more defensive and pragmatic stance.

The USMNT should reconsider its strategy against stronger teams, focusing on solid defense and exploiting counter-attack opportunities. Berhalter's past experience in adapting tactics to defeat Mexico might indicate that he has the capability to make necessary adjustments, but his reluctance to change so far raises doubts.

The inclusion of new talents like Timmy Tillman is also in the spotlight. With a roster of 27 players and only 26 spots available for the Copa América, Tillman, who impressed at LAFC, might be the addition needed to bring energy and quality to the midfield. With Josh Sargent dealing with injuries and other players underperforming, Tillman has a golden opportunity to prove his worth against Brazil. His chemistry with his brother Malik could be an additional asset for the team.

Another critical point is the defense, which collapsed against Colombia. The introduction of defenders like Miles Robinson, known for his solidity and ability to handle one-on-one situations, could be the change Berhalter needs to make. Additionally, the gradual return of Tyler Adams, a pillar in the defensive midfield, might provide the stability needed to face a powerful attack like Brazil's.

But perhaps the most controversial issue is the assessment of the so-called "golden generation." Players like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Gio Reyna, who reached top European clubs with million-dollar transfers, have yet to fully demonstrate their potential in the national team. With the 2026 World Cup rapidly approaching, the expectation is that these talents will turn their potential into concrete results.

The upcoming match against Brazil will be a true test for Berhalter and his team. Although historical statistics are not favorable, with only one victory against the five-time world champions, this is the opportunity for the USMNT to show that it has learned from its mistakes.