Dave Sarachan was plenty critical of his USMNT players after losing 2-0 to Brazil at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, but he also wanted to take positives from the result along with the criticisms.
The interim US boss wasn’t pleased with the first half, saying his players failed to value possession and were too cavalier with their decision-making.
“The ability to connect passes was a difficult chore for our group early in the game,” Sarachan said, “and when you concede possession against a team like Brazil, it makes it hard, you do a lot of chasing.”
“Overall I thought the first half was a little nervy. I thought the second half we had better moments of using the ball better. I thought our coordination of trying to step out wasn’t very good in the first half, we got pulled apart a bit; I thought the second half was an improvement. But overall this was a great game for us to play, in these types of games playing a team like Brazil who’s arguably as good as any team on the planet, it challenges you in ways that can only improve this group moving forward.”
Sarachan was adamant that the first half may have been a result of nerves, and while the players certainly weren’t afraid of the opponent, they may have been tentative in the moment. “I think it was evident we had kind of a nervous start,” Sarachan said. “We always want to win when we step on the field. What we always want to see is a team that is not afraid, and I don’t think we were afraid…maybe a little nervous here and there, but you want to see a team that’s not afraid, that will compete, that will challenge for plays, and when it’s not good enough you get punished by good teams, and that’s the value of playing these teams.”
Ultimately, the youth was a drawback over these 90 minutes, but that could be a benefit moving forward. There were individual players he wanted to point out after positive performances, although everyone had plenty to improve on.
“They did like young players would do. I thought they had hit and miss moments. I think there were moments in the game – certainly in the first half – where we conceded too much possession. But at the same time as the game went on, I moved Tyler wider in the second half, but they had moments where I thought it was pretty good, so it was up and down, and that’s ok.”
“[Wil Trapp has] a tough position in the sense where he’s the deeper guy in build-up and possession. I gave him a pretty good grade tonight, but I was critical of all 3 central midfielders tonight where they were switching the point of attack and connecting. More pluses than minuses but there is plenty of room for improvement.”
For Sarachan, even if he’s not the coach for much longer, the development of the team benefitted greatly from the match, and the fact they showed so much fight was a bonus as well.
“That’s the purpose of this kind of game, is to expose them to the next level. That generation has a group of guys that can still do great things.”
“I was [happy]. I think there could have been a situation where maybe our confidence was blown [after the early goal]. That’s one of the things I’ve noticed with this group over the course of many friendlies now, they don’t lack confidence. I think that’s an important mentality for this group and for all the guys around the national team. I saw some good leadership on the field with some players pulling the guys into a good mentality to say ‘come on let’s go.'”
One thing Sarachan knows the team needs to improve is scoring goals up front. The team has scored seven goals in seven games under his watch, and that may not be enough. Bobby Wood started up front against Brazil and had little to do, and while guys like Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, and DeAndre Yedlin contributed, nobody really stood out in front of goal.
“I think it’s hard to judge tonight because of the fact we didn’t retain a lot of possession and didn’t have a lot of buildup with a lot of numbers. There’s always room for more creativity in your team, and tonight was a difficult night to show any of that, to be honest. I still think we have a number of players in this pool that as we get deeper into games with more consistency, they’ll start to emerge a little bit in terms of creating more, but that’s an area we need to improve.”
“Scoring goals is hard. We don’t have a plethora of forwards in our pool, that’s an area where we still need to improve the position. When you start adding in some other players as we move along, that maybe can help. Whether it’s Christian [Pulisic], whether it’s a guy like Jozy [Altidore] down the line…but it’s still an area where we need some depth.”