ORLANDO — A month after harsh criticism about lack of passion in a historic defeat to Canada in Toronto, the U.S, men’s national team silenced critics and got much-needed payback in a 4-1 Concacaf Nations League win Friday night at Exploria Stadium.
The home side was clinical on the counter and consistently made Canada pay for mistakes, scoring the opener just two minutes in and pulling away out to a 3-0 lead by halftime.
"To me, the difference was that we were ready to overcome anything, the guys were focused and ready to overcome," USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter said. "You saw that right from the start of the game.
“There were some real big criticisms of the group. It was a perceived lack of effort, a lack of heart. You couldn’t mention that today at all. The way the guys were fighting for each other, the way they had their back, the amount of effort that was put in. …To me, the difference was that we were ready to overcome anything.”
Berhalter, who has also been the subject of criticism, became the second-fastest USMNT manager to reach 10 wins, behind only LAFC coach Bob Bradley, who set the record back in 2007.
Wins are important, but it also comes with trying to develop the young core of talent that his team has.
“I understand that everyone has a job to do, and my job is to coach the national team,” Berhalter said, “I understand they are parallel paths. There’s the path of getting results, and there’s the path of developing a really young team. Sometimes, those paths go in different directions, and you don’t always get the results, but the development is still there. And the progress with the team, you know you're still pushing for that. I think we all stayed calm in these last two weeks and just focused on our jobs.”
Now the job is to get a result in their final Group A match against Cuba Tuesday (7:30 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, TUDN) to advance to the Nations League semifinals.
Though he was happy with the result and his team’s performance against Canada, Berhalter admitted the job was far from done, and his team should not get complacent.
"We had an objective, which is to go to the next round. We're not in the next round yet,” Berhalter said, “It was a good result, the effort was amazing. We could have played better. There's a lot to work on. It's one of those games that galvanizes the group because of how much you need to put into it. And then when you get a victory, it's nice. But we're nowhere near where we need to be, or where we're going to be. And, you know, we have to go down to the Cayman Islands, and we have to win because that's our objective, to get to the finals."