PANAMA CITY, Panama — A staff can repeat its errors so many occasions earlier than it will get punished. So it proved for the United States males’s nationwide staff in its 1-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Panama on Sunday.
In its first 4 video games, the U.S. had managed to keep away from defeat. However even because it amassed eight factors from these matches, there have been some warning indicators. Gradual begins have been one. A scarcity of execution at occasions in midfield was one other. And there was a perceived lack of depth that a couple of participant talked about. It is a lesson that after 5 qualifiers — three of which have been on the highway — the U.S. ought to have found out the way to deal with by now. As a substitute, it is one it’s nonetheless studying.
“We’re professionals. We count on to have a sure degree of play and we did not have that tonight,” stated U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner. “I believe all of it boils right down to depth and never high quality on the ball or something.”
All of this left the U.S. susceptible to a Panama facet that has to this point throughout this qualifying marketing campaign proved to be a tricky staff to interrupt down. And the Canaleros finally broke via, courtesy of a set piece purpose credited to Anibal Godoy however that additionally seemed prefer it went off U.S. ahead Gyasi Zardes.
“It was clear we did not have our greatest stuff,” stated U.S. supervisor Gregg Berhalter. “It was the hope that we get out of there with some extent. And, you recognize, disenchanted to surrender a purpose the way in which we did, and lose the sport. You recognize it is a typical CONCACAF sport — very bodily, very aggressive. I believe we got here up brief in quite a few areas, so it is about now, it is about rebounding, specializing in the sport on Wednesday in Columbus.”
There have been classes for Berhalter, too. Granted, the triple-fixture home windows which are a staple of this World Cup qualifying marketing campaign demand a certain quantity of squad rotation. However on this night time, Berhalter’s adjustments have been close to wholesale, retaining simply three discipline gamers from the beginning lineup that took the sphere three days in the past in opposition to Jamaica. A few of these adjustments have been compelled as each Weston McKennie and Antonee Robinson have been left at dwelling due to a quad damage and U.Okay. quarantine restrictions, respectively.
Others have been harder to fathom. Out was Ricardo Pepi, he of the three objectives in his first two worldwide appearances, changed by Zardes. So have been presumed mainstays Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson, with Acosta filling Adams’ position within the middle of midfield and Timothy Weah deputizing for Aaronson. Mark McKenzie got here in for the in-form Miles Robinson.
Among the strikes labored, but it surely was as a lot about execution because it was about personnel. McKenzie was regular alongside Walker Zimmerman. However the midfield trio of Acosta, Yunus Musah and Sebastian Lletget (who appeared reluctant to play ahead) that Berhalter trotted out was fully ineffective, ceding management early and solely getting it again at occasions within the second half with the halftime introduction of Adams and Aaronson.
The query, then, earlier than the opening whistle and after, was did Berhalter overdo it? He cited Adams’ latest return to the lineup of membership facet RB Leipzig as one cause he did not begin. There was the journey and the humid circumstances.
“Now, it clearly would not appear to be your best option,” he stated concerning the lineup adjustments. “However I believe we have now to attend ’til Thursday [in opposition to Costa Rica]. As a result of if we’d have performed the identical gamers from the final sport, initially, two of them weren’t even right here, in order that was going to be unattainable. But when we’d have performed the identical gamers in … this sport, I am undecided we’d place ourselves in one of the simplest ways to win once more on Wednesday. Once more, the circumstances that we’re coping with right here with the journey with the climate made it difficult. And we needed to make a, I suppose, a considerably dangerous resolution.”
It did not repay. Berhalter stated a part of his considering was to get mobility and contemporary legs into the lineup, however not often did that presumed vitality reveal itself. The U.S. received solely 45.2% of its duels. The U.S. additionally struggled to execute the fundamentals on the ball, particularly in midfield. It was virtually as if the midfield wasn’t conscious that the sport was going to be way more of a road combat than the relative stroll in opposition to Jamaica three days in the past. Musah was responsible of dribbling into hassle. Acosta had some poor touches that resulted in turnovers. Each forms of errors sparked Panama counterattacks that succeeded in getting the group into the sport.
“The standard wasn’t excessive sufficient within the last ball after we did get in these [attacking] positions,” Berhalter stated. “I believe the flexibility for our gamers to show and play ahead was missing right this moment. And total, once more, we carried out under the expectations that we have now for ourselves.”
There was additionally the problem of the U.S. press. It was fully out of sync within the first half, permitting Panama to play out of its personal half fairly simply.
“Within the first half, it was in all probability somewhat little bit of an absence of vitality and competitiveness,” Adams stated.
Berhalter added: “We did not have that pop; we did not have the legs that we wanted. And we suffered for it.”
Berhalter additionally clarified his remarks, insisting that it wasn’t his intention to play for a draw, however extra to see “how the sport was going.”
“We made some changes, and we have been hoping to get some momentum,” he stated. “However when the sport retains going longer at a sure level, you are like, ‘OK, we get out of right here some extent, we’ll be doing OK, based mostly on every part,’ and sadly we did not do this. However to be clear, the mindset previous to the sport was to not play for some extent. We needed to win the sport. We put a line up on the sphere that we thought might win the sport, and we simply did not do it.”
When a staff is lacking the likes of Christian Pulisic, Giovanni Reyna, and — at the least on this night time — McKennie, there may be certain to be a drop-off. However Berhalter is discovering out simply how pronounced that distinction in efficiency might be for some gamers when the U.S. goes on the highway. He introduced up the staff’s youth, however the U.S. is quickly reaching the purpose the place that may not be used as an excuse. Berhalter has the staff he has, and he must guarantee that he places a midfield out on the sphere that may execute, even beneath robust circumstances.
One would hope that with the presumed return to the beginning lineup of Adams and McKennie the U.S. can have extra heft in central positions. That may then have a knock-on impact elsewhere on the sphere, liberating up the U.S. assault. It will need all of that Wednesday in opposition to a Costa Rica facet filled with expertise.
With this defeat, the strain is on the U.S. as soon as once more. It will need a victory on Wednesday to ease it.