USMNT 'clearly need to improve' before World Cup, says Berhalter
By Chris Smith
United States Men's National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter has stated his side 'clearly need to improve' before they begin their World Cup quest following Friday's friendly defeat to Japan.
The Stars and Stripes fell 2-0 in Dusseldorf on Friday but rather than the result, supporters were left extremely concerned with the manner of their performance, with the USMNT failing to register a single shot on target and looking extremely disjointed.
Only one more game remains for the US to iron out their faults before they open their Group B campaign against Wales on November 21, with another friendly against Saudi Arabia to come in Spain on Tuesday.
"We've got work to do. We clearly need to improve, but overall really good experience for this team," said Berhalter.
"Give Japan a lot of credit. I think they played a good game and they gave us a hard time. I think at times we were well in the match and performing well, but overall, over 90 minutes, we could have been better. [It] wasn't good enough."
During his time in charge of the USMNT, Berhalter has placed particular emphasis on playing possession-heavy soccer. But that was their biggest weakness on Friday, routinely giving the ball away in their own half with even key midfielders Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie looking nervous and short of confidence.
"I don't know if the proximity of the World Cup has anything to do with it, but the guys didn't look fresh, and from a physical output we just looked a step behind," said Berhalter. "And then it's difficult, a team like Japan will punish you.
"The adjustment in the second half helped give us more control of the game, gave us more passes between the lines. But in the first half, I think it was just the lack of comfort on the ball, silly giveaways.
"We built the opponent up after a decent start, but then it started snowballing and giving some balls away and it wasn't what we envisioned."