Berhalter praises "bravery," "resilience" shown by US in rugged Chile draw

HOUSTON — The US national team’s winning start to life under head coach Gregg Berhalter was put to a halt by Chile on Tuesday night in a hard-fought 1-1 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium.

The USMNT walk away with heads held high just the same.

Just as Berhalter predicted in the leadup to the game, La Rojabristled with intense pressure and physicality, something that the US had not experienced with their first three matches of the year, against Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador.

“I think opponents have a great deal of respect for us as a team. I learned that the guys are resilient; also I learned that we were pushed to the limit today and the guys hung in there, when you see the effort that the guys put in there,” said Berhalter postgame.

“Overall, I think we made it extremely difficult for them and I thought we showed the bravery to try to play through some of their pressure.”

Gyasi Zardes and Christian Pulisic combined smartly to give the US an early lead. But after enjoying a clear majority of possession in all three of those previous matches, the USMNT struggled to find rhythm in the face of Chile’s pressing.

 “We knew that it was going to be a difficult team. I think that we actually held our own out there,” said Zardes, the only US player to start in all four games under Berhalter. “I felt like we executed what the coach asked of us throughout the week; it was just the challenge we needed and we can progress as a team.”

Chile equalized just 5 minutes after Pulisic’s opener when Oscar Opazo beat goalkeeper Ethan Horvath. Although the visitors quickly took the initiative and produced more shots on goal than their hosts, they weren’t able to break down the USMNT again.

On balance it’s been a promising start under Berhalter, and his players are concentrated in the now, getting better each game and learning their new coach’s vision. They see Tuesday as another step in that process, and hope to hit their stride in time to defend their title at this summer’s Gold Cup.

“This game was very intense, the pressure was high,” said US and Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan. “We played really good players, we're building out of the back.

“I think that the most important thing is playing as a team; we can see how effective we are when we play as a team, when we play the system that we are trying to play.”