Berhalter after loss to Mexico: “We’re making progress” but media won’t say it

Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

United States men’s national team Gregg Berhalter is trying to put a positive spin on his side’s throttling at the hands of a rival, at home, on Friday.

Mexico pumped the USMNT by a 3-0 score line on Saturday, seizing control of the match after 20 minutes and never letting go. The bright spots were very few, and the Yanks couldn’t even take advantage of its subs producing a penalty kick when Josh Sargent saw his effort saved by Jonathan Orozco.

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Berhalter was touchy from the word go at his post-match presser, turning a question about how his side could not handle Mexico’s high pressing into a ‘fake news’ situation.

It went from there to a nearly indefensible comparison of the performances against Mexico in the Gold Cup Final, and two months later in Friday’s friendly.

Look, Berhalter is not going to say, “Yeah the guy they didn’t interview for this job worked me over two months ago, and tonight it went even worse.”

And no one’s expecting the coach to admit that his fledgling program was taken to school by its rivals and outclassed in every area of the game, but perhaps there’s a better thing to say than the following.

We’ll tell you who’s not happier: the supporters and neutrals who knew after 20 minutes that your team was not turning it around. At least in the Gold Cup Final, the Yanks were in shouting distance. They played the game.

And let’s revisit that game: Memo Ochoa robbed Christian Pulisic early. Jozy Altidore missed a sharp chance to give the Yanks a lead. They were very much in that game, and did not have John Brooks or Tyler Adams (who were also missing on Saturday).

Now there’s the other shout coming out of the hot takery when a team plays bad, and that’s going bunker mentality. Berhalter’s apparently up for that, too.

You have been making progress, Gregg, but tonight is not the time to make that claim.

It’s actually been a bit of a roller coaster, but until Friday was on an upward trend.

Berhalter’s men were decent against lesser program’s B teams as he started his tenure. They were then upset by Jamaica and humiliated by Venezuela in what seemed to set a very poor tone for the Gold Cup, only to perform very well and come within the aforementioned chances of claiming an improbably Gold Cup against a clearly superior El Tri.

The fact of the matter is that performances like Friday’s loss, or the similar one against Venezuela, have to carry some sense of responsibility. Either you’re choosing the wrong guys, or you choosing the wrong tactics. Stats say it’s the former, especially given Berhalter’s record of out-performing his talent with Columbus, but you can’t overlook how poor his side was playing out of the back in New Jersey.

Or at least blame the injuries. We would’ve more readily accepted that answer, coach, with John Brooks, Tyler Adams, Tim Weah, and Matt Miazga all unavailable and at least three of them easy starters.

This was their next time out, and they puked. The head coach isn’t going to admit that in public, obviously, but that’s where we are right now. Hopefully we’re not there come Tuesday night at this time.