The US men's national team began their FIFA 2022 World Cup preparations on the right track Wednesday night, dismantling Qatar-bound Morocco 3-0 in a friendly at FC Cincinnati's TQL Stadium.

Gregg Berhalter now holds a 35W-9L-7D record since taking over as the Yanks' head coach in December 2018. Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup titles are highlights aside from returning the program to the game's biggest stage.

But could a tough defeat be something the USMNT needs, and soon? Real Salt Lake head coach Pablo Mastroeni thinks such an experience may benefit the young group before Group B play gets underway.

"You want to win these games," Mastroeni said in a radio interview on Salt Lake's ESPN 700. "Although, I was thinking about it last night, which hasn't really happened with us as of late, is a tough defeat. And it's always strange, obviously, you play every game to win.

"However, if they don't win in one of these games, I don't think it's the worst thing for the group because you have to have that psychological immunity to be able to bounce back in the tournament as well. And so if one of these games don't go their way, what's the response like in the following game to make sure that we, as a group, have the right mindset going into the World Cup and maybe we lose the first game but we're not out of it? We're going to bounce back and get the four points necessary to move on."

Pablo Mastroeni
Pablo Mastroeni steered RSL to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 2021.

Mastroeni, who earned 65 USMNT caps, has appeared in two FIFA World Cups (2002, 2006). That gives him an understanding of what awaits players when facing England, Iran and a to-be-determined European foe (Ukraine or Wales) come November.

And during this June window, featuring two friendlies and two Nations League matches, competition is ramping up for roster spots that are dependent on FIFA's final roster size (usual 23 or expanded 26).

"Gregg has done a really good job of identifying the way he wants to play and the players that fit in that system," Mastroeni said. "So I think whilst these games are considered friendlies to the majority of these players, it's do-or-die time, especially if you're a fringe player. So you want to go out and you want to definitely show your best stuff and in the next few games, and I think from a coaching perspective, it's really about filling out the last few positions."

The former USMNT standout shared that, during this stage of the World Cup cycle, about "85% of the team is already fixed." In turn, Berhalter might be eyeing versatile players who can play multiple positions and bring positive energy to the locker room.

"I think if you're a player that's just now joined the group or you're a fringe player over the course qualifiers, it's really just solidifying your placement on the team," Mastroeni said. "And my experience is, you know, from a playing perspective.

"Bruce [Arena] was always looking for players in those last few spots that were, one, great teammates that weren't going to ruffle feathers – obviously, a quality player that that won't ruffle feathers. But more importantly, a player that can play multiple positions, because as you go on in the tournament, you have a couple of knocks, crazy things happen [and] you want to be able to shore up all these positions and make sure that you have a cover. Also, you want to see team camaraderie, who fits in and who doesn't," the RSL head coach added.

Those fringe players will have another chance to increase their roster chances against Uruguay, the 13th-ranked team in the world, on Sunday at Sporting Kansas City's Children's Mercy Park (5 pm ET | FOX, Univision, TUDN). The USMNT also will play two friendlies in Europe this September against to-be-announced foes.

Pablo Mastroeni_USMNT
Pablo Mastroeni played for the USMNT from 2001 to 2009.