ORLANDO, Fla. – Expect a different lineup when the US national team take on Chile Tuesday night in Houston.
USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter confirmed to reporters that despite posting a 1-0 win against Ecuador in a friendly in Orlando, the objective of this international window is to continue examining the player pool while also implementing an identity.
“We’ll make some changes against Chile,” Berhalter told reporters following Thursday’s game. “It won’t be the same lineup and [it’ll] give other guys an opportunity. And again, continue on [the] theme of using this camp to evaluate what we have.”
The USMNT remained undefeated in Berhalter’s first three games since being named head coach back in December.
The former Columbus Crew SC boss has notably been trying to implement a new system into the national team, which saw Jordan Morris play on the right – whereas in Seattle he plays on the left – and Aaron Long play as a right-sided center back, when he plays on the left side in the center of defense with the New York Red Bulls.
The boldest move, however, was deploying Tyler Adams, who has played most often as a defensive midfielder, to right back, where he played a role in which he switched back into midfield when the US were attacking.
After a 2018 with no permanent head coach in place, Adams said it felt good building on the plans Berhalter has for the team despite playing a different position on the field.
“It’s a really good feeling,” said Adams. “When you have a projected plan of what everything wants to look like and now to have reference points of ‘OK we’re progressing’ it’s nice to see the development of each and every player and the team collective, which I think will be important especially going in [to the] Gold Cup.”
Berhalter praised Adams’ performance Thursday night, as the RB Leipzig man was released on Friday to return to his club.
“Regarding Tyler, we saw them in a 4-3-3 in the beginning of the game, and we wanted him to play wider to stretch that line of three,” said Berhalter. “We thought their central midfielder will come out and press the wide fullback, so we thought we can create space centrally.”
Christian Pulisic, who played 62 minutes in his first action for the new head coach, was also lauded by Berhalter on his offensive showing.
“I think his positioning was excellent,” Berhalter said on Pulisic. “He does that intuitively. He understands how his positioning can bind four guys and open up other players. He’s in between guys all the time and it makes it very difficult to defend. And you saw moments when we’re in and around the penalty box and there’s combinations [and] it happens really fast.”
Defensively, Berhalter was impressed with his back line, earning the US their third consecutive shutout win.
“Our collective defense I thought was good,” said Berhalter. “We didn’t really give them many openings, they couldn’t find penetrating passes. They resorted to long balls, and those guys gobbled everything up. From a team standpoint, I was happy with the defensive shape, happy with the structure and it was that our center backs even when we’re up the field, they can win every duel that comes out, it was really impressive."