Orlando – As the US men’s team prepares for Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Panama, and with the United States potentially clinching a spot in Qatar, coach Greg Berhalter has a simple message for his players: Stick to the process.
“I only preach to the team about one game at a time, stick to the process and do the little things and do the process-oriented things and the results will come,” he said on Zoom’s phone call with reporters on Saturday. “That’s how I look at this as a coach as well. We just do our final preparations like we always do. And that’s what it is. It’s honestly nothing more than that.”
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The United States finds itself in second place in the final round of eight-team World Cup qualifiers from CONCACAF, ahead of Mexico on goal difference. A US victory on Sunday would ensure Berhalter’s side reach the World Cup as one of three automatic qualifying matches, if Costa Rica fails to beat El Salvador. A draw would be enough if Costa Rica lost.
The Costa Rica game will be over before the United States takes the field. “We will definitely care” about the result, Berhalter said, but added he was not sure it would change the US team’s game plan.
But Berhalter and the United States want to do that with a win, although that will require the team to overcome some obstacles. The United States put in tremendous energy in last Thursday’s 0-0 draw with Mexico, which took place at 7,200 feet.
“On the group hand, morale is high,” he said. “They were doing [regeneration] yesterday. We have a few things at the hotel that they do today in preparation for the training session, so we’ll be ready.”
Injuries to the likes of the midfielder Brendan AronsonA goal keeper Matt Turnerright back, Sergino Dest And a midfielder Weston McKinney It means that the United States will not be at full strength. The situation is particularly acute at the right-back position, where, in addition to Dest’s injury, Reggie Cannon Discharged after testing positive for COVID-19 and De Andre Yadlin He was suspended after receiving his second yellow card in qualifying against Mexico. to leave Shack Morwho traveled to the United States from FC Tenerife in Spain on Thursday, is on the starting line.
Moore’s choice over Borussia Moenchengladbach Joe Scully It was something of a surprise given Scully’s breakthrough this season, but Moore’s playing during last summer’s Gold Cup, as well as his re-emergence in Tenerife’s squad, lasted all day.
“We are very satisfied [Moore] And we decided to go with Joe Scully’s experience in this case,” Berhalter said.
In many respects, absent players are nothing new for the United States, something Berhalter has come to accept as part of his World Cup qualification mantra thanks to some advice from former American coach Bruce Arena.
“The most important thing I’ve learned – and Bruce got this home – is that you’re not going to have your best team,” he said. “You will always be missing players. Once I deal with that, we are more at peace about it. We are more insistent on the mentality of the next guy, because that is literally what it is.”
The United States will face Panama, who face a surprise 1-1 draw at home with Honduras, who are last in the standings. The Canaleros“The qualifying campaign is now hanging by a thread, and they could be wiped out on Sunday. That may add to the level of desperation in Panama.
“I think if it throws them off balance, that’s good for us,” Berhalter said. “But the way we look at this is we want to go out and win the game. Whatever it takes to win, we’ll do it.”
He added, “I don’t think we are arrogant enough to think that we are going to win this match in a blast. I don’t think this will happen. Panama is a good team, a well trained team physically., and they will put up a great resistance.”
Berhalter said his team would be wary of Panama’s ability to finish off crosses, calling a side of their game “elite”.
“They have great service from both the left and right sides. They have really good shots in the penalty area,” he said. “If you look at the chances they get, it’s time and again for a guy to cross from a deeper position into good sprinters in the penalty area, athletic attackers, and score.”
Perhaps the biggest question in the squad is who starts from the front. against mexico, Ricardo Pepe was inactive and Jordan Bivok Glorious chance missed for the game winner. may create an opportunity for Jesus Ferrara to intervene, though Berhalter was noncommittal.
“The three strikers are competing to start the match tomorrow,” he said. “They all bring different elements that can help the team succeed. Jordan is definitely good at passing, good in the penalty area. It was a tough night for him at Azteca, there is no doubt about that. But the players are bouncing.”
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