The Gregg Berhalter era: USMNT boss’ record leading up to World Cup

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United States men’s national team Gregg Berhalter is set to become the 10th man to lead the USMNT into a World Cup when the Yanks take on Wales, England, and Iran for a knockout round spot in this winter’s Qatar-hosted tournament.

It’s a terrific honor and an earned one, as we learned when Jurgen Klinsmann and Bruce Arena butchered a tricky but very forgiving route to qualifying out of CONCACAF.

[ MORE: Five questions for the USMNT ]

Rating a USMNT coach is only going to become more difficult in the future given the rocketship-up trajectory of the sport in our country in both investment and development, but also because the Nations League format introduced into Europe and North America limits opportunity for cross-confederation tests.

Berhalter’s USMNT will enter the World Cup having played 56 times across all competitions assuming Tuesday’s Saudi Arabia friendly goes ahead as scheduled in Spain.

Forty-three of those matches will have come against CONCACAF foes. And several of the remaining 13 matches — Ecuador, Chile, Venezuela — came very early in his tenure.

Every one of those non-CONCACAF foes except Qatar, from the 2021 Gold Cup came in friendly competition. A few, like a win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, came outside of FIFA’s international window.

This makes it even harder to evaluate Berhalter’s tenure, especially because he’s succeeded in many of the brighest spots. Most notably, Berhalter led the Yanks to one of the most memorable wins in program history when the USMNT outlasted Mexico to win the first CONCACAF Nations League and soon after won the Gold Cup Final over Mexico with an almost totally different team.

And injury woes for Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams mean two of the side’s most important players leave a smaller sample sizes for scouts.

So what do we really know about Berhalter’s USMNT from on the pitch? Unfortunately for those scouting from Wales, England, and Iran… not a terrible amount. But let’s look at a pretty wild cycle.


Gregg Berhalter record as USMNT coach

Overall: 36W-9D-10L — 115 GF, 36 GA — 2.13 ppm
Friendlies: 12W-4D-5L — 43 GF, 17 GA — 1.90 ppm
World Cup qualifiers: 7W-4D-3L — 21 GF, 10 GA — 1.79 ppm
Nations League: 6W-1D-1L — 25 GF, 6 GA —
Gold Cup: 11W-0D-1L — 26 GF, 3 FA — 2.17 ppm (2019, 2021)


Gregg Berhalter record vs CONCACAF

Berhalter’s record against CONCACAF is pretty exceptional, even if it should be somewhat expected for a USMNT (or Mexico) tenure to include gaudy numbers against the confederation.

The Yanks having a winning record against every CONCACAF foe except for Canada, which is .500 at two wins, a draw, and two losses. Along the way, Berhalter’s men have punked essentially every nation that failed to qualify for the final round of World Cup qualifying.

That’s why Berhalter’s overall (all comps) goal differential is an almost silly +79. The USMNT under Berhalter is a combined 9-0 against Grenada, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao, Cuba, Haiti, and Martinique, rolling up 41 goals and allowing — checks proverbial notes — a single goal.

The U.S. has only lost to five CONCACAF rivals and only Mexico and Canada can boast multiple wins against the Americans (Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Panama have also beaten the U.S.).


Gregg Berhalter record vs everyone else

AFC (Asia)

Qatar 1-0 win
Japan 2-0 loss
Saudi Arabia — 2pm ET Tuesday

CONMEBOL (South America)

Uruguay 0-0 draw
Uruguay 1-1 draw
Venezuela 3-0 loss
Chile 1-1 draw
Ecuador 1-0 win

CAF (Africa)

Morocco 3-0 win

UEFA (Europe)

Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-0 win
Switzerland 2-1 loss
Northern Ireland 2-1 win
Wales 0-0 draw

Five questions for the USMNT’s September friendlies

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You don’t have to like facts and don’t kill the messenger.

These are the forewarning statements from this writer ahead of this post, which will evaluate the five things to watch closest during September’s United States men’s national team friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia.

[ MORE: Japan vs USMNT preview ]

With red-hot Jordan Pefok surprisingly left off this roster, already-raised are threatening to leave the forehead, so a reminder:

Gregg Berhalter’s decisions are what we’re considering here, not what any individual writer might do (Jordan Pefok, John Brooks, Tim Ream, and Djordje Mihailovic would really like a certain individual’s takes).

So read on, as we evaluate the evaluations that are the final two World Cup warm-ups as the precious tournament approaches with great vigor.

How does Christian Pulisic look (in form and face)?

Christian Pulisic is, basically, too good for CONCACAF. He’s also too good to be a part-time player right now, which he is with Chelsea.

The intense USMNT striker has a permanent chip on his shoulder and should feel unleashed as one of the side’s focal points.

The fact that the modifier “one of” is even included in a discussion about a player who was — and maybe is — the program’s generational talent shows how growth of young players in the program has been golden; Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Brenden Aaronson are among the talents who keep rising but haven’t touched their ceilings.

[ MORE: Ranking the 2022 World Cup kits ]

So who is the 24-year-old (as of Sunday) Pulisic right now and what is his frame of mind? Are his 177 Chelsea minutes played out of 900 this season down to bad management, or has it been merited by form in training?

Pulisic has yet to record a goal or assist for Chelsea this season, but he has no such slum,ps in his USMNT career. He has 21 goals and 12 assists in 51 caps and it’s not all CONCACAF dominance despite the new Nations League calendar dictating that most recent games have been against regional foes; Pulisic had two assists in the 3-0 win over Morocco, scored in the 2-1 away win over Northern Ireland.

The American’s play and body language are going to be read as often as his commercial with Roy Kent has aired on television, which is fitting as this time of a World Cup cycle definitely has it’s fill of pressure-pressure-pressure-pressure.

How sharp are Matt Turner and the goalkeepers?

Some would say that Arsenal backup goalkeeper was already No. 1 on the USMNT’s goalkeeping depth chart, but Zack Steffen’s injury problems have very much made the first shirt up for grabs if it wasn’t already.

Turner, 28, has 18 caps for the U.S. and when healthy was first choice for his last three World Cup qualifiers. He’s started every other game since returning for June’s international friendlies and Nations League outings clean sheets against Morocco and Grenada.

He’s been second-choice to Aaron Ramsdale since moving from Arsenal, but Turner made his Gunners and Europa League debuts with a 2-1 win over Zurich in Switzerland.

So now Turner enters September’s camp as a clear No. 1 amongst the current call-ups, in front of Luton Town’s Ethan Horvath and NYCFC’s Sean Johnson.

It’s also an important camp for Horvath, as it feels inevitable that Johnson has secured steady hand third keeper status. Johnson is five years older than Turner and six years older than Horvath and Steffen, and Berhalter’s had plenty of praise for the veteran. Horvath’s been good for the Hatters in the Football League Championship, but what if Steffen is healthy and there’s only one spot left after Turner and Johnson?

Will away dry spell end in Germany, Spain?

A few will dismiss this query given that the rich status of soccer in the United States sure gets a lot of games on U.S. soil, providing limited chances to perform outside of the U.S.

But the Yanks are winless in six-straight away fixtures, drawing El Salvador, Mexico, and Jamaica while losing to Costa Rica, Canada, and Panama since a 4-1 win over Honduras at San Pedro Sula on Sept. 8, 2021.

Throw in the fact that this window’s friendlies are against strong, hungry Asian sides readying for the World Cup, and you’ve got all the makings of proper tests.

Japan thumped South Korea in July and Ghana in June. Losses to Brazil and Tunisia show they can be bested, but Japan’s got wins over plenty of World Cup contributors in their rear view mirror. Austria and Saudi Arabia combined to take only three points off the Japanese in World Cup qualifying (The Saudis won 1-0 in Jeddah).

Captain Maya Yoshia isn’t the only familiar name on Japan’s roster, as Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu, Monaco’s Takumi MInamino, and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada, and Real Sociedad’s Takefuso Kubo sit behind dangerous Celtic strikers Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda.

As for Saudi Arabia, it went 13W-4D-1L in qualifying and play in a lot of 1-0 contests including recent Spain-based friendly losses to Colombia and Venezuela. The team will also feel at home in Murcia, where it played those matches and where it will tangle with Ecuador four days prior to the tilt against Berhalter’s men.

Put plainly, these are tough tests for the USMNT.Berhalter’s team is the No. 14 FIFA-ranked team and they sit No. 23 in Elo Ratings.

Here’s where those settle alongside their September opponents and World Cup group stage foes:

  • England 5/12
  • USMNT 14/23
  • Wales 19/22
  • Iran 22/25
  • Japan 24/29
  • Saudi Arabia 53/59

Game(s) on.

Who, if anyone, can crash the roster party?

We’ve got a pretty good read of the definites and extremely likelies when it comes for the roster for Qatar.

First let’s use a couple of superifical metrics. Who was used in U.S. Soccer’s official jersey unveiling video? And who was included in the collectible Panini sticker book for the 2022 World Cup?

Sticker book: Turner, Steffen, Dest, Long, Richards, A. Robinson, Yedlin, Zimmerman, Aaronson, Acosta, Adams, McKennie, Musah, Ferreira, Pepi, Pulisic, Reyna, Weah

Jersey unveiling: Adams, Aaronson, Pulisic, A. Robinson, Long, McKennie, Zimmerman, Dest, Richards, Weah, Acosta, Ferreira, Musah, Arriola, Reyna, Long, De La Torre, Yedlin, Morris, Carter-Vickers, Tillman.

Who can crash the party?

Josh Sargent, Johnny Cardoso, Joe Scally, Erik Palmer-Brown, Mark McKenzie, Reggie Cannon, Ethan Horvath, and Sean Johnson are all on the roster this month and not in the above categories. McKenzie, Palmer-Brown, and Cardoso have only been called due to injuries, so this is a huge chance for them.

Where is the forward focus right now?

Barring injuries, we’re positive that Pulisic, Aaronson, Arriola, Ferreira, Weah, and Reyna are set for Qatar.

Doesn’t leave room for too many others, does it?

While positional pools are often drained of also-rans this close to a tournament, what makes the USMNT’s forward ranks so intriguing is that not only is the starting center forward job still in play, but it could come from someone who isn’t even in it right now.

That’s Jordan Pefok, who will be looming over the discussions anyway but will be downright casting his shadow over it if one of the following players fails to seal his own deal.

Ricardo Pepi’s had a pair of bright outings for Groningen, entering the window along with Josh Sargent as in-form now and ultra-bright prospects at some points during their tenure.

Jordan Morris is a proven commodity but Arriola’s seeming favorite status means Berhalter would be keeping very much like-for-like guys over the field. That said, Aaronson and Morris being in this camp means that the September group plus Weah could very well be the group.

World Cup captains want to wear rainbow armbands in Qatar

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GENEVA — FIFA came under pressure from several European soccer federations who want their captains to wear an armband with a rainbow heart design during World Cup games in Qatar to campaign against discrimination.

France and Germany, the last two World Cup champions, were among eight of the 13 European soccer teams going to Qatar who joined the “One Love” campaign, which started in the Netherlands. The Dutch team plays Qatar in Group A on Nov. 29.

FIFA rules prohibit teams from bringing their own armband designs to the World Cup and insist they must use equipment provided by the governing body.

[ MORE: Five questions for the USMNT ]

Armbands are the latest battleground for players to push political messages linked to the World Cup hosted in Qatar, where homosexual acts are illegal and the treatment of migrant workers building projects for the tournament has been a decade-long controversy.

“Wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message when the world is watching,” England captain Harry Kane said in a statement.

The Swiss soccer federation said it wanted captain Granit Xhaka to wear an armband on which “you can see a heart with diverse colors which represent the diversity of humanity.”

Soccer players have embraced their platform to make statements in recent years. Taking a knee on the field was routine before Premier League games for two seasons after the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a police officer in the United States.

FIFA supported taking a knee and now has to decide whether to back some of its most influential member federations in a gesture that could embarrass Qatar.

“A request to FIFA has also been submitted asking that permission be provided for the armbands to be worn throughout the FIFA World Cup,” the Welsh soccer federation said in a statement.

FIFA did not immediately comment on the request.

The campaign for the armbands was launched one day after the Emir of Qatar spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in New York promising a World Cup without discrimination.

“The Qatari people will receive with open arms football fans from all walks of life,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said in a speech to other world leaders.

The eight European teams backing the “One Love” campaign for human rights also included Belgium and Denmark. The five European qualifiers for the World Cup not taking part Wednesday were Croatia, Poland, Portugal, Serbia and Spain.

However, Poland captain Robert Lewandowski – a two-time FIFA world player of the year – said this week he would take an armband in the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine’s flag to Qatar.

Poland refused to play Russia, the 2018 World Cup host, in a playoff match in March. Before the game, FIFA and European soccer body UEFA banned Russian teams from international competitions because the country invaded Ukraine.

World Cup 2022 Group C: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia schedule, fixtures, rankings

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With Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia put together in World Cup 2022 Group C, this is an intriguing group of teams with very different styles of play.

[ MORE: Full schedule for 2022 World Cup ]

Can Lionel Messi and La Albiceleste breeze into the knockout rounds? Or will Mexico and Poland push them all the way? As for Saudi Arabia, they eased through qualifying so can we expect more from them at this World Cup?

Everybody will think Argentina will advance from this group (and likely win the World Cup) while one of Mexico and Poland will join them in the last 16. That opening game between El Tri and Robert Lewandowski’s Poland seems vital in deciding who will advance to the last 16.

[ MORE: Ranking every World Cup team, 32-1 ]

Below is everything you need to know on World Cup 2022 Group C.


Group C schedule (all times ET)

November, 22: Argentina vs Saudi Arabia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 5am
November, 22: Mexico vs Poland – Stadium 974, Doha – 11am
November, 26: Argentina vs Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm
November, 26: Poland vs Saudi Arabia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 8am
November, 30: Poland vs Argentina – Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm
November, 30: Saudi Arabia vs Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm

When: November 22-30 2022
Group stage game kick off times: 5am, 8am, 11am, 2pm
Location: Qatar
TV channel in English: Fox
TV channel in Spanish: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock


Argentina

Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Angel de Maria, Lautaro Martinez

Mexico

Current FIFA world ranking: 12
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 16
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (2nd place)
Coach: Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino
Key players: Guillermo Ochoa, Hector Herrera, Raul Jimenez

Poland

Current FIFA world ranking: 26
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs, Path B
Coach: Czeslaw Michniewicz
Key players: Robert Lewandowski, Wojciech Szczesny, Piotr Zielinski

Saudi Arabia

Current FIFA world ranking: 53
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group B)
Coach: Herve Renard
Key players: Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahad Al-Muwallad, Mohammed Al-Owais


World Cup 2022 Group A: Qatar, Senegal, Netherlands, Ecuador schedule, fixtures, rankings

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Group A in the 2022 World Cup will be intriguing, as hosts Qatar are joined by African champs Senegal, plus the Netherlands and Ecuador.

[ MORE: Full schedule for 2022 World Cup ]

This really is a wide-open group and the host nation (who are huge outsiders) will be thinking they have a chance of reaching the knockout rounds if things go their way and the home fans inspire them.

But there’s no doubting that the Netherlands and Senegal are the favorites to advance as Virgil van Dijk will lead the Dutch as they look to make up for missing the 2018 tournament, while Senegal are led by Sadio Mane as they aim to better their best-ever finish of reaching the quarterfinals in 2002.

[ MORE: Ranking every World Cup team, 32-1 ]

Below is everything you need to know for 2022 World Cup Group A.


Group A schedule (all kick off times ET)

November, 20: Qatar vs Ecuador – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 12pm
November, 21: Senegal vs Netherlands – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 5am
November, 25: Qatar vs Senegal – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 8am
November, 25: Netherlands vs Ecuador – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 11am
November, 29: Netherlands vs Qatar – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 10am
November, 29: Ecuador vs Senegal –  Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

When: November 20-29 2022
Group stage game kick off times: 5am, 8am, 10am, 11am
Location: Qatar
TV channel in English: Fox
TV channel in Spanish: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock


Qatar

Current FIFA world ranking: 49
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 0
How they qualified: As hosts
Coach: Felix Sanchez
Key players: Abdelkarim Hassan, Almoez Ali, Hassan Al-Haydos

Senegal

Current FIFA world ranking: 18
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 2
How they qualified: Beat Egypt in CAF playoff
Coach: Aliou Cisse
Key players: Sadio Mane, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly

Netherlands

Current FIFA world ranking: 8
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 10
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group G)
Coach: Louis van Gaal
Key players: Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay, Frenkie de Jong

Ecuador

Current FIFA world ranking: 44
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 3
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (4th place)
Coach: Gustavo Alfaro
Key players: Enner Valencia, Moises Caicedo, Pervis Estupinan