There is only so much to learn from games like that of the US men’s national team on Sunday, in which the Americans blew up Trinidad and Tobago 7-0 in their friendly match in Orlando.
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter is aware of the reservations: The T&T team that the USA played against hadn’t put the field together in almost a year and they clearly got behind the curve in terms of fitness and chemistry, what became evident all night. As the program prepares for a jam-packed year 2021, Berhalter said after the game that taking the goal line with a little salt shouldn’t diminish some of the positive findings.
“You can only play against your opponent on the field against you,” said Berhalter. “What I really liked about the guys was the focus and the intensity. After three weeks of training with a relatively new group, a young group, it’s good to see those elements on the field against a real opponent.
“We know it wasn’t a World Cup qualifying team based on who was available. Still, it was good to see the team’s focus.”
The Americans have dominated since the opening whistle on Sunday. They scored the first goal of the game just two minutes into the game courtesy of Jonathan Lewis and never looked back. FC Dallas-born Jesus Ferreira was arguably the show’s biggest star with two goals and three assists, but Berhalter said it was the joint effort that impressed him the most not just on Sunday, but throughout the January camp .
Sam Vines, Aaron Herrera, Miles Robinson and Lewis joined Ferreira as young players who performed excellently. Even the New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner found a way to distinguish himself on a night when there was virtually nothing else to do. He used a penalty in the second half to ensure the USMNT would finish with a clean sheet.
“The whole team of the last three weeks has impressed me: The attitude, the attitude, the focus and the intensity were there for three weeks,” said Berhalter. “When I talk about Jonathan Lewis and Jesus Ferreira today, they did a great job creating assists and goals. Sam Vines did a great job. The center-backs were strong throughout the game, Aaron Herrera played well.”
“It is very difficult to find a player who did not play well from the start. Overall, he is happy with the guys, with the commitment of the group and most of all with the concentration and focus they have shown.”
The games promise to be much tougher for the program later in a big year, but Berhalter said the camp and the friendly on Sunday are all about building blocks, be it for the young talents who want to campaign for more international matches in the future or the more established players who were already part of the rotation.
With that in mind, said Berhalter, he considers the team’s first mission accomplished.
“There are players in this camp who are very much part of the team,” said the coach. “When you look at Sebastian Lletget, Aaron Long, Paul Arriola and Walker [Zimmerman] was part of it, Jackson [Yueill] has been a big part of what we’ve been up to lately.
“For us we used this camp as an integration camp, where we could mix the older players with the U-23 players and really work with both teams and prepare both teams for what lies ahead of us this year. If I can look when I look at the goal of the camp, it was a success based on it. “