Berhalter sees USMNT match vs. Panama chance to get blueprint for future

The Gregg Berhalter era will begin in earnest on Sunday, when the US national team host Panama at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. (8 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, UDN).

The anticipation for the new regime may be high among fans, but it's equally high for Berhalter himself.

"We're excited about it," Berhalter told reporters during the pregame press conference on Saturday. "We're interested to see how the ideas translate on the field. For the coaching staff and for the players, that's going to be the fun part of this game. We've certainly been working hard and looking forward to the opponent."

Each coach approaches a national team job a little differently, and for Berhalter, who has enjoyed a rapid rise in the coaching ranks since taking his first managing job at Swedish club Hammarby in 2011, the emphasis will be on evaluating, both regarding the process of building the team and style and in the results.

"We certainly want to see the concepts," he said. "What we'll do is we'll analyze the game, analyze the concepts...and it will give us a blueprint to move forward, to help us next week in training and even moving forward, evaluating the teaching style, and what training sessions were effective in teaching, what training sessions could have been better executed.

"I'm really excited for this -- it's going to give us information. Right now we have no body of work to go on. And this is the start of our body of work."

While complimentary when asked directly about midfielders Michael Bradley and Wil Trapp, who have both served as USMNT captains in the past, Berhalter declined to announce who would be the captain against Panama.

Berhalter admitted he's already learned that one task is to make sure his message is connecting with all players, and the evaluation phase will be as important for him and his coaching staff as it is for the players, as the development of the team's culture is a "constant process" for everyone.

"One thing I've learned is you have players coming from diverse environments. Some clubs, they play a certain way, other clubs another way, and it's getting them all together, getting them on the same page. I think it's more clear when you can tie into a common mission and you can get the guys focused on one philosophy. And to me, it's not just in one element. We're trying to do that in presentations, we're trying to do that in team-building activities, we're trying to do that in our training sessions," he said.


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