US national team "confident in the system" despite back-to-back losses

CINCINNATI — Now is not the time to panic or change the system, according to Gregg Berhalter, despite back-to-back defeats for the US men’s national team in preparation for the Gold Cup.

“The guys worked hard,” said Berhalter at Nippert Stadium. “They gave what they had and we came up short, and it doesn't mean that now we're going to scrap all the plans. You know, we're always evaluating, we're always seeing how effective we can be, where we need to improve. So, we're going to just continue that process.”

The first-year coach was quick to point out refereeing decisions that did not go his team’s way in Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Venezuela, and praised his squad for the opportunities they created.

“The first goal isn't a regular goal, is it?” said Berhalter. “It was offsides. The third goal is offsides, and I don't think we responded well from it. But when we talked about the first half, in particular, especially the beginning phase in this game, and what did we say? We talked about wanting to be more aggressive, wanting to get behind them wanting to get balls into their penalty box. And I think to a certain extent, we did that really well. Really well.”

The USMNT were still without a few key players for Sunday’s defeat, including Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Michael Bradley. Their addition, and more time with Berhalter’s system, might still pay dividends.

“At the end of the day, it's execution,” said midfielder Wil Trapp, who wore the captain’s armband against Venezuela. “It's also getting everyone here, together, to train. And I mean, the hard part of that is there's a lot of details and a lot to focus on, and when you don't have time on the field, it can be difficult. That’s not an excuse. That's just the reality. Every team goes through that. So, the nice thing is we have the time now to get everyone on the same page physically and tactically.”

Tyler Boyd joined the team last Thursday and his first cap for the United States was one of the few bright spots from Sunday’s match. The 23-year-old winger looked lively on the right flank and delivered the team’s set pieces in the 62 minutes he participated.

“It gave me goosebumps,” he said. “It was a very emotional experience. It’s been my dream to play for the US national team. So, it's a dream come true.”

Born to an American mother and Kiwi father, Boyd represented New Zealand at the U-20 level and in senior friendlies. His change-of-association request was granted by FIFA last month and the Gold Cup will be his first major tournament representing the United States.

“We're going to prepare as well as we can,” said Boyd. “We have a group that's confident in the way we play and confident in the system. So, we're just going to keep learning the system, watching video, improving and yeah, we're confident.”

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