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Berhalter reveals his plan for USMNT’s future

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Gregg Berhalter was unveiled as the new head coach of the U.S men’s national team on Tuesday in New York City and his message was clear.

He wants his USMNT to attack, keep the ball and force the issue as they aim to get back on track.

Berhalter becomes the first USMNT head coach who played for the program at a World Cup (2002, as well as being a part of the squad for 2006), and there’s no doubt his main ambition is to make the U.S. a team which is entertaining for their fans to watch.

“The idea is that we are an attacking-based team that wants to create goalscoring opportunities by disorganizing the opponent,” Berhalter said the former Columbus Crew manager. “In my time in Columbus we have done that through build-up, where we start the ball with the goalie in the back, as teams try to press us we play through them to create goalscoring opportunities. Another way is to use pressure, whether in a mid block or move into high pressure to force turnovers and win the ball to immediately create goalscoring opportunities. The idea is that it is a fluid style that has players intent on breaking lines, playing through opponents and creating goalscoring opportunities. We want to see ball circulation, breaking lines and goalscoring opportunities. That should be the DNA of this team.”

In the understated manner which has dominated his time rebuilding the Columbus Crew over the past five years, Berhatler’s first public appearance in NYC was hardly box office.

But right now the U.S. men’s national team needs a man with a long-term plan and Berhalter seems in sync with the other top officials in charge of U.S. Soccer.

Berhalter will bring structure and calmness to the USMNT.

Not qualities that many will scream from the rooftops, but those traits are much-needed after the nightmare past year the program has endured.

After the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, a total restructure of the program took place and the past 12 months were spent mainly stuck in neutral, led by interim head coach Dave Sarachan who gave dozens of youngsters a chance to shine but was never in a position to be the new head coach moving forward.

USMNT’s General Manager Earnie Stewart, hired to start on Aug. 1, sat alongside Berhalter and was asked what the main goal for this team is with the 2022 World Cup in mind.

“One: making sure that the way we play is identified through our fans and something they want to watch. Two, is really simple: qualify for 2022. And three: doing well in 2022. Those are the goals we have,” Stewart said.

Asked if there was a timeframe for when we would be able to see a team which was truly his, Berhalter said he expects this current USMNT squad to kick on in the coming months after a year of experimentation.

“As with any team building it is a process. I don’t want to use it as an excuse and say in eight years we will have a good team. The process has to accelerate,” Berhalter said. “When you have quality players, you can accelerate that process a little bit. We want to see progress. Each and every camp you should expect to see development among the team.”

When it comes to the makeup of his squad, the former USMNT center back revealed they would be thinking about reintroducing more experienced U.S. players as well as selecting many of the youngsters who have worked under Sarachan since last November.

That will be music to the ears of the likes of Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Fabian Johnson, who are just a few of the star names who were cut adrift from the program after the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup was confirmed last October.

Alongside Berhalter and Stewart sat Carlos Cordeiro — the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) since February — who confirmed that Gregg’s brother, Jay, had a hand in hiring Stewart as the new USMNT GM but had nothing to do with his brother, Gregg, getting the head coaching job.

Cordeiro also took exception to reports that USSF didn’t interview enough candidates during the process.

“I think the process and selection of the coach was very thorough and Jay had nothing to do with that,” Cordeiro said. “He was involved in selecting Earnie as general manager, which Carlos Bocanegra was responsible for. The search for the coach was managed and run exclusively by Earnie. Jay had nothing to do with that, to be clear. We think the process has been very honest and fair.”

As for Berhalter the next steps for him are clear.

With the January camp coming up for him to work with U.S. players based in Major League Soccer, he wants to meet as many players as possible in the next few weeks and also make sure those who won’t be in camp next month can keep up with the direction he is steering the program.

His plan to do that is by sending out videos, notes and online webinars to get everyone on the same page as soon as possible and throughout his reign.

“My first priority is reaching out to players and getting to know them. I will reach out to domestic players and head to MLS Cup, then I’ll be heading to Europe to meet players face-to-face,” Berhalter said. “We know there’s not much time in camp but when you have quality players who are in environments where they are learning all the time, they should pick up what we need pretty quickly.”

Cordeiro revealed that over the past 12 months the USSF took their time to hire the right main for the position, and that amid a successful bid to host the 2026 World Cup their hunt for a new USMNT head coach was put on the back-burner a little.

“The past 10 months at U.S. Soccer have been a time of real change. In respect of the men’s team, the pieces are now falling into place. We are now focused on the future,” Cordeiro said. “We have no regrets at all. We got our best guy. We couldn’t have moved any faster. The reality is, it has been a busy year. In a matter of between February and July we were consumed by the successful World Cup bid. We haven’t sacrificed any candidates because of a deadline. We never had a deadline.”

Stewart added that since he was hired as GM his main focus has been on hiring a coach who fits the style of play he wants to see and who will get the best out of the young U.S. players who have emerged.

He and his team ranked the candidates and whittled the list down to three key men, but Stewart admitted that “one of the candidates was no longer available,” which many believed was outgoing Atlanta United head coach Gerard ‘Tata’ Martino who is expected to take charge of Mexico when the 2018 MLS season is over.

Many believe the past 12 months has been lost for the USMNT but with high-profile friendlies against France, Brazil, Colombia, England and Italy in recent months, Berhalter believes that experience will be invaluable in selecting the players he wants moving forward.

“The last six games were instrumental for this group,” Berhalter said. “It gave them a taste. It is now about moving forward and thinking about where we will be in 2022. What is the right mix of players? Who do we bring back in who hasn’t been included?”

As there has been ever since they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup last October, there are still so many questions hanging over the USMNT.

At least they now have a head coach who can start to put the building blocks in place for future success.

Americans Abroad: Chandler earns start after lengthy absence; McKennie leaves injured

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On a relatively quiet weekend for Americans abroad, Timothy Chandler started for Eintracht Frankfurt for the first time since mid-September.

In England, Christian Pulisic made another start for Chelsea, while Lynden Gooch returned to action with Sunderland after a few months of inactivity.

But while some came back from inactivity, Weston McKennie was stretched off the field on Sunday after landing on his shoulder in Schalke’s 1-0 win over Frankfurt.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic started and played 65 minutes in Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to Bournemouth on Saturday. The attacker failed to record a single shot.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — The fullback watched the Magpies’ 1-0 loss to Burnley from the bench on Saturday.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic — Robinson continues to rack up the minutes at Wigan. The young left back started and played the full 90 minutes as Wigan picked up a point against struggling Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old didn’t dress in Reading’s 0-0 draw with Stoke City.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The Tigers captain started and played the full 90 minutes in Hull City’s 2-2 draw with Charlton Athletic on Friday.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender started at centerback and played 67 minutes in QPR’s 5-3 loss to Barnsley.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Like Miazga, Carter-Vickers, too, was absent during Saturday’s bout.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes started and played 88 minutes in Derby’s 1-0 loss to Millwall.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – Gooch came off the bench and played 18 minutes in Sunderland’s 1-1 draw with Blackpool – the first minutes for the Californian since mid-October.

Bundesliga

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  13 minutes into the game on Sunday, McKennie was stretched off the field after he suffered an apparent shoulder injury.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf Despite making four saves, Steffen allowed three goals in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 3-0 loss to RB Leipzig on Saturday. Morales did not dress.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent is out with an injury for the remainder of the calendar year.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t dress for RB Leipzig.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach — Johnson didn’t dress for Borussia Monchengladbach.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — The veteran defender started and played 90 minutes for the first time since mid-September.

2. Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – The 24-year-old midfielder is out with an injury.

Bobby Wood, Hamburg – Wood dressed but didn’t play in Hamburg’s 1-1 draw on Sunday.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest didn’t dress for Ajax on Sunday.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 45 minutes in VVV Venlo’s 2-1 loss to PEC Zwolle.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — The U-23 MNT fullback didn’t dress for FC Emmen on Sunday.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah didn’t dress for Lille on Friday.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Siebatcheu didn’t dress for Rennes on Sunday.

Honorable mentions:

Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund U-19 —  Reyna’s praiseworthy campaign in Germany continues, scoring a goal in Borussia Dortmund’s 6-1 win over Alemannia Aachen on Sunday.

Georgetown wins NCAA title by beating Virginia on penalty kick

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CARY, N.C. — Georgetown goalkeeper Tomas Romero stopped Virginia’s Axel Gunnarsson in the seventh round of penalty kicks to give the Hoyas their first NCAA men’s soccer championship Sunday night.

The teams fought through two scoreless 10-minute overtime periods after finishing regulation tied at 3, leaving penalty kicks to decide the game. Both teams made their first six penalty kicks, and Aidan Rocha made the seventh for Georgetown, forcing Gunnarsson to attempt to match it.

Romero moved to his right to thwart the shot and give the Hoyas (20-1-3) the victory.

Derek Dodson, Paul Rothrock and Daniel Wu scored in regulation for the Hoyas.

Virginia (21-2-1) countered with goals by Joe Bell, Daniel Steedman and Daryl Dike.

Georgetown appeared on the verge of winning regulation when Dodson broke a 2-2 tie with 9:37 left in the second half. But Dike forced overtime when he booted a rebound of his own miss into the top of the net with 4:58 remaining in regulation.

Virginia was bidding for its eighth national championship and third since 2009. Georgetown was playing in its second NCAA final.It lost 1-0 to Indiana in the 2012 championship game.

Mexicans Abroad: Jimenez registers assist in Wolves loss, praised by Liverpool’s Klopp

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In an underwhelming slow weekend for Mexicans abroad, only Raul Jimenez (and Omar Govea) managed to make the headlines, but not necessarily for his assist to Adama Traore in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 2-1 loss to Tottenham on Sunday.

The 28-year-old forward, who has been on a serious scoring run this season with Wolves, was praised by Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, who was asked about Mexican soccer ahead of the Reds’ match against Monterrey in the semifinal of the FIFA World Cup of Clubs.

“There are several players from Mexico,” he says “but Raul Jimenez is an impressive Mexican soccer ambassador, really good. I’m sure they (Mexico) have a strong league, but it’s not easy to see it here, so I don’t know much.”

Here is a list of several other Mexico national team affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) outside of Mexico this weekend.


Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers —  Despite Tottenham snapping Wolves’ 12-game unbeaten streak in league play, Jimenez continued his fine run of generating goals. In the 67th minute, the forward assisted Traore for the home side’s first and only goal of the night.

La Liga

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Sevilla — Chicharito came on for Luuk De Jong in the 59th minute in Sevilla’s 2-1 loss to Villarreal on Sunday. The forward completed all of his passes (four) and had a shot blocked.

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — Herrera played the final 27 minutes of Atletico’s 2-0 win over Osasuna on Saturday.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Due to a suspension, Guardado was not called up to feature in Betis’ 18.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old took the field in the 52nd minute in Betis’ 2-2 draw against Espanyol.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo started and played every minute in Celta’s 2-2 with Mallorca. The defender recorded three clearances, one blocked shot and three interceptions. Celta remain as possible relegation candidates.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli —  Lozano’s time at Napoli under Gennaro Gattuso didn’t have the firework start many were hoping for. Instead, the frenetic winger started on the bench and played only 11 minutes in Napoli’s last-minute 2-1 loss to Parma on Saturday.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven — Gutierrez started and played all 90 minutes in PSV’s 3-1 loss to Feyenoord on Sunday. The midfielder completed 89 percent of his passes, recorded one key pass and one shot on target.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax —  It’s been an up-and-down experience for Alvarez at Ajax thus far. Completing 93 percent of his passes and winning 80 percent of his ground duels, his performance on Sunday was a high for the midfielder, despite his team’s 1-0 loss to AZ.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito and Porto host Tondela on Monday.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea shined on Sunday in Belgium, bagging a brace in Zulte’s 5-1 thumping of Sint Truidense VV.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Pedro Arce, Panionios – Arce played 70 minutes in Panionios’ 2-1 loss to Volos on Sunday.

Gerardo Ramirez Alonso, Roda JC – Ramirez Alonso dressed but didn’t take the field in Roda’s draw on Friday.

Serie A roundup: Ronaldo sets record with brace, Juventus top Serie A (video)

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Juventus’ routine win, which puts them level with leaders Inter Milan, highlights Sunday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Juventus 3-1 Udinese

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace as Juventus picked up its first win after dropping points in two consecutive Serie A outings.

With two goals – which easily could have been four if he had not struck the bar – the Portuguese made history in front of the home crowd, becoming the first player to record double digit goals in 15 consecutive seasons within Europe’s top-five leagues.

The storied attacker opened the floodgates in the ninth minute, when a softly deflected ball landed in front of the same right foot that belted the ball past Udinese’s man between the sticks.

It wouldn’t take long for Ronaldo to record his second of the night.

In the 37th minute, one of the 34-year-old’s best techniques made scoring a possibility: positioning. Keeping track of the defender marking him and Udinese’s backline, Ronaldo made a run forward, meeting a perfectly-placed ball from Gonzalo Higuain and striking it home. 

Before the first half came to an end, Leonardo Bonucci headed home the home side’s third of the night, putting the game out of reach. In consolation time, however, Udinese spoiled Gianluigi Buffon’s clean sheet as Ignacio Pussetto tap in inside the box found its way into the goal.

It’s a quick turnaround for Juventus as they travels to Sampdoria midweek, while Udinese host Cagliari over the weekend.

Elsewhere

Verona 3-3 Torino

AC Milan 0-0 Sassuolo

Bologna 2-1 Atalanta

Roma 3-1 SPAL

Fiorentina 1-1 Inter Milan