Home Football U.S. wore themselves out vs. Mexico Is there enough left in the tank to beat Panama

U.S. wore themselves out vs. Mexico Is there enough left in the tank to beat Panama


MEXICO CITY — When the ultimate whistle blew, our bodies began dropping. The Estadio Azteca was each bit the vitality sucking power the younger United States males’s nationwide staff had been warned of and after 90-plus minutes, there was nothing left within the tank. Even striker Jordan Pefok, a Sixtieth-minute substitute, instantly dropped to the susceptible place, exhausted, after the U.S. secured an enormous level in a 0-0 draw with Mexico. Nobody was spared.

Therein lied the dilemma, one thing U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter acknowledged. By taking part in what amounted to a first-choice beginning XI, he risked carrying out these gamers — with simply two days of restoration earlier than a extra pivotal recreation in opposition to Panama on Sunday — and getting nothing to point out for it.

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For now, although, the purpose seems to be price the fee. Had there been a momentary breakdown in protection, Berhalter would have been villainized. Had Christian Pulisic or Pefok put away their close-range possibilities, a World Cup qualifying win on the Azteca would have served as a crowning achievement.

The hole between resounding success and utter failure might be virtually nonexistent.

“It was definitely a tough game. It took a lot out of us,” Pulisic stated. “I’m really proud of the way that the guys just put in a shift and the effort to make sure that we got that point at the end was really big.

We put ourselves in a position to play on Sunday and win and go to the World Cup.” Finally, that’s the lens by way of which your entire qualifying cycle will likely be seen, and nothing else issues.

Berhalter maintains there may be loads of time to get well from taking part in on the Azteca, however different groups have fared poorly in comparable circumstances all through qualifying. After dropping 2-1 at Mexico on Sept. 2, Jamaica misplaced 3-0 to Panama at dwelling three days later. Canada backed up its 1-1 draw on the Azteca with a 0-0 draw at dwelling in opposition to Jamaica. Honduras misplaced 2-0 to Jamaica three days after it made the trek. Solely Costa Rica, which additionally drew 0-0 at Mexico, backed up its Azteca journey with a win within the subsequent recreation inside the identical window, beating Jamaica 1-0.

That pattern is sufficiently small to the place these outcomes won’t be indicative of something, however widespread sense dictates fatigue will likely be a worthwhile concern, necessitating not less than some squad rotation.

At two positions, Berhalter does not have a selection. Each proper winger Tim Weah and right-back DeAndre Yedlin will likely be unavailable on account of yellow card accumulation. Setting apart the CONCACAF absurdity of a suspension for 2 yellow playing cards over 12 video games, these are two positions that appear to have apparent replacements.

Gio Reyna, maybe aided by Mexico’s drained legs, was a revelation after he changed Weah within the Sixtieth minute, and he must be on the sector from the start. He missed a number of months with a hamstring harm and solely not too long ago returned, however he did play the complete 90 for Dortmund earlier than the worldwide break. If Dortmund thinks he can play these minutes in opposition to FC Koln, there isn’t any justification for leaving him on the bench with a World Cup berth on the road.

“You could see that he’s stronger, he looked quick and he’s getting fit,” Berhalter stated of Reyna. “When he gets 100% fit, he’s going to really help this team for longer stretches, but I thought he had a solid performance [against Mexico].”



Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic cannot maintain again the laughter after coach Gregg Berhalter in contrast Reyna’s dribbling to Maradona’s legendary objective in 1986.

With Yedlin out, Reggie Cannon unavailable after testing constructive for COVID and Sergino Dest not with the staff on account of harm, Berhalter known as in Shaq Moore, who’s taking part in for Tenerife in Spain‘s second division. Moore began all six video games of america’ Gold Cup matches, throughout which they did not enable a objective from the run of play, however has appeared simply twice in qualifying. His lone begin — and final look — got here in america’ first World Cup qualifier in opposition to Panama, a 1-0 loss throughout which he was pulled after 55 minutes.

Zack Steffen will stay in objective and the remainder of the backline appears set. Left-back Antonee Robinson and center-back Walker Zimmerman have emerged as two of the staff’s most indispensable gamers, and the concept of breaking apart the profitable Zimmerman-Miles Robinson partnership at this stage to introduce Aaron Long, Erik Palmer-Brown or James Sand does not make sense.

In midfield, Berhalter stated Tyler Adams ought to be able to go. It is conceivable Yunus Musah might be on the bench after he went 90 minutes, however he is too essential for that to be the expectation. The plain spot to rotate is the opposite superior midfield function, the place it is smart for Luca de la Torre to return in for Kellyn Acosta. Acosta has extra defensive chunk, which was essential in opposition to Mexico, however in opposition to Panama at dwelling in a recreation the U.S. ought to look to dictate play, de la Torre’s means to progress the ball and create is best served.

Pulisic did not have his finest recreation in opposition to Mexico, however he has been good of late for Chelsea and it is inconceivable he might be dropped.

Probably the most attention-grabbing determination Berhalter has to make is what to do at striker. Neither Ricardo Pepi nor Pefok did something to encourage confidence in opposition to Mexico, whereas Jesus Ferreira — contemporary off his first Main League Soccer hat-trick with FC Dallas — will likely be absolutely rested.

Within the first recreation at Panama again in October, Berhalter closely rotated his staff, utilizing seven new starters in comparison with the earlier recreation — the shortage of continuity negated any doable good points he hoped to get from fielding a contemporary staff. The U.S. managed simply 0.24 xG — by far its worst displaying throughout qualifying — and its press was ineffective, one thing that is seemingly influenced Berhalter’s participant choice ever since.

“We were hoping with this lineup that we’re going to get that get mobility and we didn’t play our best,” Berhalter stated on the time. “We had a number of guys that performed below the expectations.” Six gamers who began that recreation — Mark McKenzie, George Bello, Sebastian Lletget, Paul Arriola, Gyasi Zardes and Moore — have since mixed for only one begin (Zardes in opposition to Canada) and 117 minutes (Zardes, 90 minutes in three appearances; Arriola, 27 minutes in two appearances).

That is all to say the primary United States-Panama match should not be used as a barometer of what to anticipate on Sunday.

“We knew, obviously, this window is going to put us in position to either qualify or not qualify,” Berhalter stated. “I’m looking forward to getting back home and having a good performance.”

Because the begin of 2021, the staff is 17-0-1 at dwelling, together with a 5-0-1 file throughout qualifying. Panama is 2-4-0 on the street in qualifying.

It is price remembering {that a} win in opposition to Panama does not assure a spot in Qatar. The U.S. would additionally want Costa Rica to both draw or lose in opposition to El Salvador to formally clinch on Sunday. If each the U.S. and Costa Rica win, it is doable Costa Rica might pull degree with the purpose once they play one another in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Wednesday. However the Ticos would additionally want to beat america’ present seven-goal edge in objective differential for it to matter, head-to-head.

If america loses or attracts, it opens a number of nervy situations that may require a end in Costa Rica on the ultimate match day, a spot the place the staff is 0-9-2 all time.

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