Berhalter takes measured approach to US national team's loss to Venezuela

CINCINNATI — Gregg Berhalter believes that the experience of playing another match together helped the US men’s national team’s preparations for the Gold Cup, despite a 3-0 thrashing by Venezuela on Sunday.

“The guys are one step closer to where they need to be,” said Berhalter postgame. “And we'll use the rest of the week to finish off. Obviously, you know, I know what the narrative is going to be, that we have no chance, and that we're going to lose and maybe not even make out of the first round. That's fine.”

Berhalter, who was undefeated as the USMNT coach until Wednesday’s loss to Jamaica, pointed to the mental side of the game as the area where his squad fell short.

“When we gave up the goals, I didn’t love the response,” he said. “And the second thing would be, I don't feel like for 90 minutes, we competed on the level that we need to compete on. I think we need the mentality.

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“Understanding that it's hot and understanding that the guys, you know, some of them played 90 minutes every week for the last month. Some had been on vacation, and we're getting everyone to where they need to be, but you still want more competitiveness.”

The problems started early for the United States. A mishit pass from goalkeeper Zack Steffen in the 16th minute led to Venezuela’s first goal. The visitors then added two more in the first half and were on cruise control until the full-time whistle. Steffen explained that he learned from Sunday’s mistakes and knows what the US squad needs to work on.

“Communication,” said Steffen. “Just familiarity with everybody in the back line and the midfield and just getting everybody on the same page and talking and connected. And it takes time … we're young in this process. And then, of course we want it, we all want it right now. And we want the results to happen right now, we want to be perfect. But that's not life. That's not soccer.”

Winger Paul Arriola led the USMNT with four shots in a match where an improved but goalless second half saw the hosts finish with more shots and possession than Venezuela.

“We overcomplicated it today,” said Arriola. “The goals we gave up were more self-induced, I think, and mistakes that we can obviously prevent. Now it's a great time with a lot of days to prepare. You have players coming from all different clubs and different tactics. Now it's a matter of, can we forget those, and come into one and become a team?”

The US now have nine days to dissect two consecutive defeats and learn from their shortcomings before their opening Gold Cup match against Guyana on June 18 in Minnesota (10 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, UDN).

“I think we need to look at the game,” said Berhalter, “look at what we need to improve on and then set out to do it.”