Omar Gonzalez hails “incredible” week for US Soccer; talks USWNT, Gold Cup glory

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U.S. national team defender Omar Gonzalez has paid tribute to an “incredible” week for all things U.S. Soccer.

The USMNT beat Germany on and Holland away from home last week in friendlies, the USWNT currently sit top of Group D at the Women’s World Cup in Canada, plus the U.S. U-23’s finished third in the Toulon Tournament and the U-20’s reached the World Cup quarterfinals.

[ RELATED: Latest transfer gossip ]

All in all, it’s been a very successful 10 days or so for U.S. national team’s across the board.

Speaking to ProSoccerTalk, Gonzalez also talked about Steven Gerrard’s imminent arrival in MLS (more on that here), plus LA’s slow start to the 2015 but was keen to speak about the Pass The Love campaign he has been getting behind to support the USWNT on their quest for World Cup glory in Canada this summer.

In what many lauded as a standout past week, Gonzalez reflected on all the USMNT, USWNT and U.S. youth teams have achieved in early June.

“It has been incredible for U.S. Soccer from the youth levels up to the senior teams. The U-20’s did great, the U.S. men’s team had unbelievable wins against Germany and Holland at their places was incredible,” Gonzalez said. “Watching those games, there was such a difference from the first half to the second half in both games. I just love the fact that we never quit. We kept it going and figured out how to switch our formations on the fly. I was really proud of the guys for the way they fought and managed to get stuck in and grind out results in unbelievable fashion. I was just a fan here cheering them on. I thought it was amazing.”

[ RELATED: Gonzalez says Gerrard to mirror Donovan, Beckham’s impact ]

Focusing on the USWNT’s early efforts in Canada, Gonzalez has urged the public to get behind the team just like they did during the USMNT’s run to the last 16 in Brazil last summer.

“The women’s team have always been so good and the fact that they have started this World Cup well, I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Gonzalez said. “I wish them all the best and it has been great to see the fans and the media have all rallied behind the women’s team. It is important to rally the fans to give the women’s team the same support they gave us in Brazil 2014. As a player I truly know how much seeing the support improves your play and your confidence.”

As for the men’s national team he is a part of, the 26-year-old believes Jurgen Klinsmann’s side deserves a little more credit for going into the backyard of reigning World Cup champions Germany and No. 6 ranked Holland and grabbing gritty wins.

“They accomplished something that has never been done,” Gonzalez said. “I would say ‘a win is a win not matter how you did it or who is on the field.’ I can tell you for a fact right now that those German and Dutch players they weren’t there just to play. They wanted to get a result and show their coach they belong there. They were trying just as hard as the U.S. were. It was a competitive match and we accomplished something that has never been done. It is tough to hear fans and the media trying to dumb this great accomplishment down. It was truly great to see. The players who were out there on the field worked their assess off for it.”

Gonzalez reserved special praise for 23-year-old LA teammate Zardes who scored his first international goal in the game against Holland and started both contests in Europe.

“I was really proud of my teammate Gyasi [Zardes] going there and playing in both games,” Gonzalez revealed. “I know how hard he works on a personal level because I see him every single day. He is a guy who is very driven and wants to get better every single day. To see him go there and score a goal and make a difference in both games was great to see.”

source:
USA v Australia: Group D – FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015

Heading into the summer, Gonzalez was named on Jurgen Klinsmann’s initial 35-man roster for the Gold Cup being hosted across the United States in July. After winning the tournament in 2013, Gonzalez is eager for the U.S. to become CONCACAF Champions once again and compete in the Confederations Cup in Russia in 2017.

“We are just trying to build off these two wins, continue with the confidence and continue with the great play because this Gold Cup is huge for us,” Gonzalez said. “If we win then we have a ticket to the Confederations Cup and that is a tournament we want to be a part of. We missed the last one so winning this Gold Cup will be huge for us. It is one of our main goals.”

Fulfilling that goal is going to be tough as both Mexico and Costa Rica are ranked above the U.S. in the current FIFA World rankings and all three nations reached the knockout stages of last summer’s World Cup with Costa Rica bowing out bravely at the quarterfinal stage.

“It is going to be extremely difficult,” Gonzalez conceded. “Costa Rica and Mexico, just to name a few teams, are very talented and want to win and go to the Confederations Cup just as bad as we do. We know that we have a lot of work ahead of us but if we can continue with the same mentality and the way we approach the games with that never say die attitude we can accomplish a lot. I know we will have players that can do it and we just have to go out there and perform like I know we can.”

As for the future of U.S. Soccer, Gonzalez believes it is bright after a week of success throughout the ranks.

“It is great to see the young guys always doing so well because you know the future is in good hands,” Gonzalez said. “There are so many young players who are learning the game quicker and are getting the proper coaching. It is great for the future and great for the now. As we saw in the last few games for the U.S. men’s team, a few young guys came on the field and made a big difference. It was great to see.”

Berhalter slams USMNT after Canada defeat. What now?

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Gregg Berhalter and the USMNT hit a new low on Tuesday as they lost 2-0 to Canada in Toronto and it could have been worse.

Much worse.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings ]

Totally outplayed in their CONCACAF Nations League game, pressure is mounting on Berhalter as the U.S. men’s national team perhaps haven’t even hit rock bottom yet. Two years after their shocking failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup as they lost at Trinidad & Tobago, in many ways the performance against Canada was worse.

What progress has been made since that fateful night in Couva in 2017?

[ MORE: 3 things we learned

Speaking to reporters after the damaging defeat at BMO Field, Berhalter threw his players under the bus. Big time.

“The first thing that stands out to me, was desire; desire of Canada,” Berhalter said. “Give them credit. But having said that, the minimum we expect is to match that. We need to compete on every single play in games like this, and that’s important. I don’t think it was a lack of effort. I don’t think it was purposeful. But I wasn’t happy with the desire that we displayed tonight to win the soccer game. Too many 50-50 balls we lost, and that hurt us.”

USMNT fans are calling for Berhalter to be fired just 10 months into his reign, and his possession-based style isn’t sinking in with his young, hard-working squad. Berhalter wants the USMNT to play like Barcelona but right now they look more like Burton Albion. And that’s being kind.

The youngsters coming through are being asked to overcomplicate things and aren’t playing to their strengths. After a heavy defeat to Mexico last month and a damaging loss to Canada, qualifying for the 2022 World Cup would now be a huge achievement for the USMNT. It should be a given.

Where do we go from here?

The fact USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart may well have to get the thumbs up from Berhalter’s brother, Jay, who is the expected incoming new CEO of U.S. Soccer, adds to the anger from U.S. fans.

It is unlikely Berhalter will be removed anytime soon and that U.S. Soccer will stick with him after waiting a year for him to take charge.

Former interim coach Dave Sarachan did the best job he could do from November 2017 to November 2018, but that lost year waiting for Berhalter has sent this young group of players spiralling backwards.

The lack of progression is clear for all to see, but Berhalter doesn’t want anyone pointing to the shocking defeat in Canada as a true reflection of where this team is at.

“I wouldn’t make a statement about the program based on this game,” Berhalter said. “The reason why is that these games are difficult. It was never going to be easy and come here and win the game. There was no way. When you look at their team, when at their quality, when you look at where they are right now, it wasn’t going to be an easy game. We have to accept that. I think all of us have to accept that. We wanted to win the game, and hopefully we’re going to keep improving and hopefully we’re going to start winning games on the road, but tonight wasn’t the night to do it.”

Berhalter is under pressure and things have got worse for the USMNT since their embarrassing World Cup qualifying failure two years ago.

Is it time to pull the plug on Berhalter? After the performance against Canada his players appear to think so, and so too do the fans.

U.S. Soccer have a big decision to make, as things look like they will get a lot worse before they get any better.

State of play in CONCACAF Nations League

Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images
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Well, well, well…

Canada’s controlling 2-0 defeat of the USMNT on Tuesday adding some intrigue to the final two match days of the CONCACAF Nations League next month

[ USMNT-CANADA: Time for change? | Player ratings ]

Mexico nearly provided another shock at Azteca thanks to a relative inability to break down Panama, but young stunner Jose Juan Macias scored for the fourth time in three caps to lead El Tri to a 3-1 win on the night.

Roberto Alvarado saw his 28th minute goal canceled out by pre-halftime own goal, and Mexico had better than 75 percent possession when Macias bagged his winner. Rodolfo Pizarro rounded out the scoring in stoppage time.

Here’s where we sit in the battle for four semifinal spots. The semifinals and finals will be staged in June.

Group A

Canada’s defeat of the USMNT means the Yanks need to make the most of the Canucks visit to the Orlando next month and smash Cuba in the Cayman Islands. Overall goal difference is the second tie breaker, and the Yanks are four behind Canada. A two-goal win in Florida would mean the Yanks would simply need a victory over Cuba to advance to the semifinals. Canada advances with a draw against the U.S., while Cuba has already be relegated to League B.

Group B

Mexico now has six points to Panama’s three and Bermuda’s three. El Tri will visit Panama next and can clinch a spot in the semifinals with a draw or better. Even if Panama beats Mexico, Tata Martino’s men would need to get nothing from Bermuda at Azteca to fail to make the semifinals. Bermuda needs Panama to beat Mexico before getting a blowout win at Azteca. Not looking good.

Group C

Honduras is onto the semifinals. Whether Martinique or Trinidad and Tobago, both on two points, can avoid relegation by getting a superior result against Honduras in November. Honduras heads to Martinique before hosting T&T.

Group D

Curacao had five points compared to its rivals two each and can advance to the semifinals with a home defeat of Costa Rica. If Los Ticos claims the three points, then it will have at least a two-goal advantage on Haiti heading into a home finale.

Three things from ugly USMNT loss in Canada

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We were warned after Couva that perhaps, somehow, the United States men’s national team still had some ways to go before really hitting rock bottom.

It seemed absurd, but after 10 months of the Gregg Berhalter era, which followed the least interesting manager search of all-time, perhaps the warning was needed and should’ve been heeded.

[ MORE: Match recap | Player ratings ]

The USMNT had no answers and no options on Tuesday in Canada, showing no urgency and getting bossed off the pitch against a team which may not qualify for the Hex.

Time for a change? It’s not insane to consider it. The team Berhalter rolled out, with several players who aren’t even standouts in MLS, was inept in Ontario.

Either the plan or players the problem, and both point one way

Canada’s John Herdman and his desperate team were ready for a fight, and the visitors apparently thought their talent and reputation would win the day.

Nuh-uh.

The book on Canada was electric attackers and suspect defense, so what did Gregg Berhalter spring for his opening salvo? No pressing on the back line and two plodding center backs. Tim Ream could work with an athlete like Matt Miazga. Aaron Long, too, but Berhalter put both players together (Long certainly grew into the game).

The result was that Alphonso Davies was shifted mainly to the side of the field with Daniel Lovitz, and man did he run wild.

So did Canada’s midfield who out-worked the Yanks up-and-down the center of the park. It was sad, and littered the match with doubt heading into the break.

Granted the U.S. is short several injured players and lost Jozy Altidore just before the international break, but Berhalter had no answers on his bench, or at least couldn’t manufacture one.

And that’s a huge part of the issue here. If you don’t have any sugar, might wanna prepare something other than cookies.

He removed Christian Pulisic at the hour mark, who had been poor and reportedly sick (see below) but still represents the best playmaker in his pool. Aside from the Chelsea man’s missed 1v1 duel with Borjan, there were no real attacking moments.

This was so bad, and absolutely according to plan by Herdman. No, not Tata Martino this time… John Herdman.

There is every reason to doubt Berhalter right now, and just as many to think that U.S. Soccer hierarchy wouldn’t consider remedying the situation on account of pride.

Given the way national team soccer works, it would not be off-color if the federation pulled the chute on Berhalter. The only possible excuse is injury, but Berhalter knew what he had in this camp and still rolled this plan out there in Toronto.

Pulisic frustrated, off-color, sick, and subbed?

Christian Pulisic didn’t have to do much in Friday’s demolition of Cuba, and he couldn’t do much of anything on Tuesday when asked to carry the team.

The Yanks were absolutely bamboozled in the first half which often had the match asking Pulisic to run wild once the ball actually found its way to him.

But he was dispossessed too often in any event, and missed a necessary goal when Jordan Morris sent him alone 1v1 with Milan Borjan. Yeah, that’s a Champions League goalkeeper with Milan Borjan, but this is the pride and joy of the program and it’s best product maybe ever.

Still, for Berhalter to pull him after 60 minutes begs the question of whether there’s an injury here. If not, well, there are a lot more questions than answers.

EDIT: Berhalter said after the game that Pulisic had been struggling with flu-like symptoms.

Davies roars, Steffen saves USMNT from blowout

While the Yanks’ best players wasn’t in rhythm, Canada’s was borderline symphonic.

Former Vancouver Whitecaps phenom and current Bayern Munich youngster Alphonso Davies was a problem for the Americans from Moment No. 1, and the only thing that could slow him was a 53rd minute leg injury.

Davies had the U.S. back line on its toes all night, and cooked Tim Ream early in the match before doing the same to Aaron Long on a play the Red Bulls man did very well to recover and slide to safety.

Fortunately for Gregg Berhalter, Zack Steffen is used to being put in bad positions due to his starring stint on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf. The goalkeeper made a phenomenal 1v1 stop on Davies in the first half and was often forced to command his box under duress.

USMNT player ratings from a dismal night in Toronto

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Oh no.

The United States men’s national team had its worst performance since, well, last month.

[ MORE: Match recap | 3 things ]

Were there bright spots? Well, at least one.

Let’s dig into an ugly 2-0 loss to the Canadians in Toronto.


Starting XI

Zack Steffen — 8 — Couldn’t do much on the goal, and was the only reason this wasn’t a blowout.

Daniel Lovitz — 5 — Couple of nice slide tackles. Steady enough on a bad day.

Tim Ream — 4 — Slipshod after two-straight notably good caps.

Aaron Long — 4 — Some really good moments and joined Steffen in saving the day despite a few glaring errors, and almost made amends for Yedlin’s awful effort on the goal. That said, out to lunch on Cavallini’s second.

DeAndre Yedlin (Off 73′) — 3 — Another unforgivable lack of attention and intensity on a conceded goal at the back post from Yedlin. Really, really poor.

Michael Bradley — 4 — Poor on the opening goal. Industrious but a step slow on the evening. Not what we expected from TFC’s captain at BMO Field.

Weston McKennie  — 3 — Left all his momentum somewhere between Friday and here. A step back and one that begs if he knew the plan.

Cristian Roldan (Off 73′) — 3 — An awful giveaway would’ve put the Yanks down 1-0 if not for Steffen’s heroics. Not on the level.

Christian Pulisic (Off 60′)  — 4 — Maybe his worst day in a U.S. shirt, bodied up often before missing a point blank chance to give the U.S. a lead. Berhalter said after the game that the player was suffering from the flu, so he gets an extra point for gutting it out.

Jordan Morris — 6 — One of the few bright spots in attack, should’ve had an assist on Pulisic’s missed xG.

Josh Sargent (Off 73′)  — 5 — Industrious but on an island.

Substitutions

Paul Arriola (On 60′) — 6 — Made some decent plays but isn’t a game breaker and didn’t have an outlet for his efforts.

Gyasi Zardes (On 73′) — N/A — This was the time to bring him on, hoping his athleticism and work rate could provide something that was missing.

Nick Lima (On 73′) — N/A — Deserves to start over either full back.