I will have a longer, and more comprehensive look at what we – and presumably head coach Gregg Berhalter as well – learned from the now-complete March international dates.
In the meantime, here are some bullet points about Tuesday night's 1-1 draw against Chile in Houston:
• The press created major problems for the US, who pretty much always wanted to try to play out of the back and only rarely were willing to settle for booting it wrong.
This should probably not be a surprise. Chile are reeling after missing last year's World Cup, and after some recent poor performances as they try to start their new cycle on the right foot. Said recent poor performances include last week, when they got run out by 3-1 against Mexico.
The US aren't there yet; they just don't have that comfort playing on and off the ball, especially given that this was essentially the second team (no Zack Steffen, no John Brooks, no Tyler Adams, no Aaron Long, no Weston McKennie, and eventually no Christian Pulisic... those guys are all integral to any build-up/possession play).
• More worrying in my opinion was that Chile found it fairly easy to play to feet in between the lines, as happened on the equalizer:
Poor defending by #USMNT on #Chile equalizer. Miazga and Gonzalez, in particular, didn't cover themselves in glory. #LaRoja already attacking a lot more than Ecuador did in the last game.#USAvCHI pic.twitter.com/P3iHBNQn7D— Joga Bonito (@Jasoninho10) March 27, 2019
That's not great!
Chile controlled most of the game by just repeatedly hitting that pass and forcing the US to be reactive. The US were not able to navigate the tension between "keep your shape!" and "get pressure to the ball!", and Chile took advantage.
• A formation change helped make the game a bit more even over the final 25 minutes, as Berhalter shifted the US into a 3-4-3 with a dual pivot (which I honestly did not expect). Stationing Wil Trapp next to Michael Bradley made it harder for Chile to play between the lines, and leaving three center backs at the back meant that there was always a level of solidity when defending on the back foot.
At the same time, putting true wingbacks out there spread Chile out and suddenly allowed the US to play between Chile's lines a little bit, and create some danger. While Chile controlled possession, the best chance of the second half fell to the Yanks – and it wasn't an accident.
There are a ton of possibilities going forward with this, and every US fan should take heart from the fact that Berhalter has made good second-half adjustments in each of his four games.
• Tim Ream really does make that one inexcusable play per game, doesn't he?
• Bradley balled out:
Another fantastic pass from Michael Bradley. He combined well with Ream to get out of pressure, drove forward on the dribble, and then hit a perfect diagonal ball to Baird at the far post. Should've ended in a goal.#USAvCHI #USMNT #TheGeneral pic.twitter.com/cSkCFqL3v6— Joga Bonito (@Jasoninho10) March 27, 2019
He was superb, and hit multiple passes like that.
Corey Baird, on the other hand, will be kicking himself. He constantly makes great runs and is in the right spot to be a difference-maker, but his final touch too often deserts him.
• More to come on Wednesday...