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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.

‘But hey this is MLS’: Wayne Rooney slams MLS’ travel arrangements

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Wayne Rooney is not a fan of MLS’ travel arrangements.

D.C. United lost 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday in Canada, and had to fly back to the nation’s capital before prepping for a midweek showdown with visiting New York Red Bulls. To the 33-year-old Englishmen the trip should’ve taken six hours, not half a day.

MLS is notoriously known for the lack of charter flights it offers its teams, a mere four per season is the reported amount each team is allocated. Traveling on commercial flights has caused routine delays for a slew of team’s this season, with certain teams arriving only hours before the first whistle in some cases.

Players, however, will reportedly push for better travel in the upcoming CBA negotiations. Not only for Rooney, but for the majority of professional athletes around the world, flying charter is customary.

Upon his arrival to D.C. in 2018, Rooney turned down first-class flights offered by the Black-and-Red, among other fine accommodations. “If you are going to be part of the team, you have to be part of the team,” Rooney said on his decision to reject first-class flights and private hotel rooms. “All in and do the same things. I don’t want special treatment — I wanted to be treated the same as the players. I’m part of this team.”

Rooney, despite being on his way out of D.C. to join Derby County in January, is certainly a part of the team.

He is also now a part of the complex fight for better travel in MLS.

Vela scores 24th, LAFC clinches playoff berth

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SANDY, Utah (AP) – Carlos Vela scored his MLS-leading 24th goal of the season, Tyler Miller had four saves and Los Angeles FC beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday night to clinch a playoff berth.

LAFC played a man down after defender Walker Zimmerman, who was shown a yellow card for time wasting in the 17th minute, was given a red for unsporting behavior in the 48th., Real Salt Lake’s Aaron Herrera, who blocked two would-be goals in the first half, was shown a straight red for denial of a goal scoring opportunity on Vela, who then converted from the spot to make it 1-0 in the 64th minute.

Vela, whose 15 assists are tied with Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers for the league lead, broke the MLS record for combined goals and assists. Sebastian Giovinco’s had 22 goals and 16 assists for Toronto FC in 2015.

Miller has eight shutouts this season for LAFC (18-3-4), who have won four consecutive games and seven of their last eight dating to June 28.

Adama Diomande side-netted a rising right-footer to cap the scoring in the 82nd minute.

Salt Lake (12-10-4) had its six-game unbeaten streak, including three straight wins, snapped and allowed multiple goals for the first time since a 4-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on June 1.

Lampard: ‘We need more personality’

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Frank Lampard‘s baptism of fire as Chelsea boss continued on Sunday, as the Blue coughed up a 1-0 lead and were lucky to draw at home against Leicester City.

[ MORE: Pulisic watch. How did he do?

After being hammered at Manchester United in their opening PL game last weekend, then losing to Liverpool on penalty kicks in the Super Cup final in Istanbul on Wednesday, Chelsea started superbly against Leicester but only led 1-0 thanks to academy graduate Mason Mount scoring his first goal for the club.

Speaking to our partners Sky Sports after the game, Lampard revealed he was not happy at all with the second half display and urged his young side to show more personality on the pitch.

“It was a really good start, fantastic, and we could’ve been two or three goals up. We were quick, bright, energetic, then we allowed Leicester back in the game and in the second half I was not very happy, we offered them too many chances on the counter attack,” Lampard said. “We can only look at ourselves. In all our matches I have been delighted in big passages of having the ball but we didn’t have enough angles or options to keep the ball moving. We have to have more personality, we saw that in midweek, but today we didn’t have that.”

The most disappointing thing for Lampard will be the way Leicester grabbed hold of the game in the second half.

Brendan Rodgers‘ side launched counter after counter as Jorginho and N’Golo Kante were overrun in midfield by James Maddison and Youri Tielemans, and both Maddison and Jamie Vardy should have won the games for the Foxes.

“You can attack, but still be in positions to not allow the counter-attack,” Lampard added. “I’m not here to play great attacking football and then concede counter-attack goals. We need to show more than we did. I was under no illusions that there would be moments like this. We have to work on the pitch on the things we can improve.”

Lampard is spot on with his assessment, but how does he change things?

The most obvious thing is that he needs his team to be more consistent. They’ve started their last three games fast but failed to make the most of big chances and have been made to pay for that with some sloppy passing in midfield.

It is still early days for Lampard in his first season as a PL boss, while many of his youngsters are also finding their feet in the top-flight. Chelsea’s fans will stay patient but the fact that have yet to grab a win shows there is plenty of work to do but the Blues have shown flashes of brilliance, usually at the start of games.

Having a consistent lineup is one thing, but Lampard now needs his players to be brave, show their personality and stand tall for the cause as he ushers in his new era. Too many of them went missing in the second half against Leicester at Stamford Bridge, which will be more than a little concerning for the Chelsea legend.

Pulisic watch: How did USMNT star perform on home debut?

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Christian Pulisic made his home debut for Chelsea on Sunday, as the USMNT star started for the Blues against Leicester City at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: What did we learn? ]

How did the 20-year-old from Hershey, Pennsylvania get on during his first start in the Premier League?

The American playmaker played 70 minutes and although he, like Chelsea, started well, it’s safe to say he faded in the second half as the west London club gave up their lead and drew 1-1 against the Foxes.


2nd minute: Pulisic follows up after Schmeichel saved Mount’s effort but the Leicester goalkeper bundles the ball wide.

3rd minute: Gets free at the near post from the resulting corner but can’t flick the ball goalwards.

15th minute: Gives away a free kick for a foul on Ricardo Pereira.

19th minute: Cuts in from the left and plays a nice pass across the pitch to start an attack.

20th minute: Works back well defensively to put Pereira off his cross.

26th minute: Starts a great move which almost sees Kante score. Flicks it out to Emerson who finds Giroud to play in Kante.

27th minute: Pulisic pops up on the right flank and tries to cross into the box but his cross is blocked and goes out for a goal kick.

29th minute: The American switches flanks with Pedro and is now on the right wing.

30th minute: Pulisic races onto a loose ball but Schmeichel slides out and gets there just before him.

34th minute: Back on the left, taken down by Ayoze Perez as he runs towards the halfway line and looks to pass. Wins a free kick.

39th minute: A few nice touches on the ball but then loses the ball on the halfway line.

41st minute: Plays a bit of a strange back pass to Kepa which puts Chelsea under pressure.

45th minute: Pulisic blocks a cross as the ball smashes him in the ankle and he goes down injured.

46th minute: He is back on his feet and sends in a cross which is deflected out for a corner.

53rd minute: Drifts in from the left and plays a nice ball inside, moment laters plays it to Pedro who loses the ball.

63rd minute: Chases down a lost cause but Caglar Soyuncu calmly flicks the ball over his head.

66th minute: Cross comes in and looks like he is winding up for a bicycle kick but is bundled to the floor. No penalty kick.

70th minute: Shortly after Leicester equalize, Pulisic subbed off and replaced by Willian. A ripple of applause from the home fans.