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USMNT vs Canada CONCACAF Nations League Preview

Chops November 14, 2019

Who: USMNT vs Canada
When: Friday, November 15th @ 7:00pm ET
LineUSMNT -182 | Draw +290 | Canada +580

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The USMNT plays Canada on Friday night at 7pm ET in the CONCACAF Nations League. This mid-November showdown in a newly created competition against a country we’ve historically dominated is a must win match for the Americans. So is the state of US soccer.

When these two teams played last month, well, you know what happened. Canada out-played the US in every aspect of the game. They were the better side. It was perhaps the lowest moment for the US program since October 2017 when they failed to qualify for the World Cup after losing to Trinadad & Tobago.

After that stinging loss, the US program wasted a year in a sham search for a new coach. By punting on a crucial year of squad development which would’ve helped form a more cohesive unit has clearly cost the team in terms of results and performance. It’s mismanagement all around.

None of this should be surprising.

As you may have read, all aspects of US Soccer are in various states of disarray. Straight down from the Chicago headquarters where employees are bitterly unhappy, this lack of vision has manifested itself to the end product on the field. The USMNT is in its worst shape since the 1980s. It’s not necessarily on the players either. It’s on the organization as a whole and specifically on Gregg Berhalter, the coach who should’ve never been hired.

USMNT vs Canada preview

With that bit of joy out of the way, on to the match!

The last time these teams met in Canada just a month ago, the Canucks were the better side. They were more organized and played with more purpose. This wasn’t a lucky or fluky win. Canada deserved the victory.

The Canadians outshot the US 9 (5 on target) to 7 (3 on target). They made the most of their big chances. The US did not.

So, are there areas that could improve this match for the US and yield a better result? Absolutely. Reasons for optimism!

Well, the defense can’t be much worse

As noted, the US couldn’t finish a sentence in their first match-up. That luck could and should improve, even without Christian Pulisic (more on him shortly). It’s the untidy defense though that almost by default will get better. I mean, just look at this:

That simply can’t happen again. Canada has enough attacking talent to punish those mistakes.

The backline should be better though. Sergino Dest will almost surely get the starting nod. DeAndre Yedlin has rounded into fine form at Newcastle and is playing with confidence. Despite the defensive lapse above, Aaron Long was generally among the stronger players against Canada last month.

Not having Zack Steffen though is a killer, especially for a team looking for solid distribution in building from the back.

Regardless, better backline personnel in better form should be a lift.

Offense can’t get much worse…although it might

Part of the problem of deploying a complex, build-from-the-back, progression possession style offense with little training is it requires time and chemistry to gel. The US “attack” vs Canada last month was disjointed. It lacked creativity. The runs were poor. And when there was an actual inspired run, no service came.

Compounding the potential problem on Friday night for the US is there is no Christian Pulisic.

The Chelsea star (we can call him that now) is in the form of his 21 year life. Despite getting pulled off the pitch after 60 minutes last month, Pulisic was the US’s best overall creator.

Yes, Pulisic muffed a shot (although it wasn’t a gimme as it was portrayed) that he’d likely bury in current form. It his ability to penetrate into the box and create quality chances that will be missed the most on Friday. The US need a creative spark. Someone who can open up the offense. That’s primarily Pulisic. Much maligned Michael Bradley is missing this match as well. He’s good for a key pass or two per match. Who will unlock the offense? That’ll be something to watch throughout the evening.

And by the way, Canada is pretty good

Given the talent available, the US should win any match against Canada. That’s no disparagement towards our friends up north. Canada does have real talent.

That starts with 19 year-old sensation Alphonso Davies. The Bayern Munich product should be the best player on the pitch Friday. He’s rounding into fine form for the Bundesliga giants. He netted his first goal for Bayern this past week. Davies even earned his first UEFA Champions League start last week vs Olympiakos. In limited minutes, he’s tallied a 7.69 WhoScored in the UCL. More impressively, Davies has earned a 7.41 WhoScored over four Bundesliga appearances, earning a goal and assist along the way.

Canada will lean on Davies offensively. His defensive contribution though will also be key to stifling US attacks, particularly on the counter. Expect Canada to lean heavily on Davies’ vast potential.

LAFC’s Mark-Anthony Kaye should return this match too. He got dinged at the October game and then missed a few weeks of play, coming back for a 45-minute stint in LAFC’s exit vs Seattle. Kaye is a difference maker. A pacy attacker who can unlock an offense, he’s exactly the kind of player the US needs.

The Canadian backline–mostly littered with MLS’ers–will be compact and organized. Especially without Pulisic, they won’t be easy to breakdown.

Canada head coach John Herdman only made 2 roster swaps from October until now. That squad continuity may pay off in a big way.

The pressure will be on the US in a big way

Berhalter is a mediocre manager. Nothing in his history suggests otherwise. His 16-match USMNT coaching record is 9 wins 2 draws 5 losses. Aside from the two shellackings to Mexico, Berhalter has lost to Canada, Venezuela, and Jamaica…all teams the US should handle.

The US is not improving. Their play looks more disjointed and uninspired. There’s not quality building out of the back, connective-ness in the midfield, or finishing up top.

While Earnie Stewart gave Berhalter a vote of confidence, the pressure is on (at least publicly) for a better result. Save running out to midfield and taking a giant literally turd (as opposed to the metaphorical one) during the game, Berhalter is probably safe in his job. When your big brother had a say in your hiring and is everyone else’s boss, that helps on the job security front.

However, a draw or a loss would eliminate the US from the Nations League knockout stage.  They must win both remaining games and with a better goal differential than Canada to advance.

While a loss or draw would not eliminate the US from World Cup qualifying — it would be another massive step back.

The US is already spinning for a potential negative result

I appreciate good spin and PR, especially trying to get in front of a bad story. I don’t say that mockingly. It’s the smart thing to do.

In the lead up to the match, US Soccer distributed the following reminder:

While the Concacaf Nations League isn’t exactly World Cup Qualifying, with its timing and similar format, the group stage has essentially replaced Concacaf’s old semifinal round of the qualifying process. As the USMNT continues to build as a group and in its style of play, the relative youth of the squad is important to remember.

Since the formats and timing are similar, age and experience comparisons to previous World Cup Qualifying cycles back up that the current crop of USMNT talent is greener than earlier cycles. For instance, at 24 years, 350 days, the starting XI for last month’s 7-0 win against Cuba was the youngest for the USMNT in a competitive, group-stage match during the modern era. The average of 23 caps was also the second youngest of the modern era.

In the Oct. 15 match at Canada, the starting XI’s average 25 years, 219 days and 25 caps was the youngest for the USMNT in an away, competitive group-stage match where the team hadn’t already advanced to the next round. Additionally, seven of the 14 players who appeared for the USMNT in Canada were playing in their first competitive road match for the USMNT.

Basically, if we don’t get a positive result, remember the youth of the squad, not the ineffectiveness of the coach. Well played, US Soccer. 👏👏👏


Interestingly, public money is pounding the US. In 24 hours the line has moved from -143 US to -182. The Canadians have gone from +325 to +580. That’s sizable.

Regardless, here’s the thinking: the US squad will show up with pride and play hard and go up 1-0. Canada will buckle down. With a manager capable of making solid tactical adjustments, the Canadians will claw one back in the second half. Expect a 1-1 draw that US Soccer will claim as “great progress by our young players.”

USMNT vs Canada CONCACAF Nations League: Odds, Time, Where to Watch

High Press 10 November 13, 2019

The struggling USMNT has a shot at redemption versus an on-the-rise Canadian national squad this Friday in the CONCACAF Nations League.

Despite a vote of confidence from US Soccer, a loss here would make Gregg Berhalter’s seat exceedingly hot. This is a big game for the US. Here’s what you need to now.

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USMNT vs Canada Odds

Even without Christian Pulisic and Zack Steffen, the US are odds-on favorites to defeat Canada.

USMNT -143 Draw +250 Canada +325

Oddsmakers expect this to be a 2-1 game. Under 2.5 goals is a favorite at -135. Over 2.5 is even money at +100. Final scores of 1-0 US (+550) and 2-1 US (+700) are the most likely outcomes.

When is USMNT vs Canada?

The game takes place Friday, November 15th at 7:00pm ET. The match will be held at the Exploria Stadium in Orlando, FL.

What channel is USMNT vs Canada on?

ESPN2 will broadcast the game in the United States. Tune in at 7pm ET on Friday.

Where can I bet USMNT vs Canada?

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook.

How Are US Internationals Doing in Europe?

Peter Nolan November 13, 2019

Editor’s Note: With the recent success of USMNT players in Europe (and struggles within Gregg Berhalter’s squad), High Press Soccer will be taking a look each week at how our Internationals are fairing abroad. 

With a pair of surprisingly important CONCACAF Nations League matches coming up during the international break, we check in on USMNT eligible players making their way in soccer leagues around the world.

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Current USMNT players in Europe

As you may have heard, Christian Pulisic is in form at Chelsea. He scored again this weekend, giving him five goals for the season. That’s his best domestic tally ever. And it’s only been 12 matches so far.

Newcastle’s DeAndre Yedlin is also coming back into form, netting a goal for the Magpies as well.

USMNT PlayerLeagueClubThis WeekSeason StatsNext Up
Christian PulisicPremier LeagueChelseavs Crystal Palace:
Scored one goal, played 80’/ rated 8.61 (Who scored)

Pulisic also started in Chelsea’s wild 4-4 comeback draw at the Bridge on Tuesday. The USMNT winger did not figure in the scoring charts but he was fouled for a penalty that Jorginho converted, his cross led to Ceasar Azpilicueta’s goal and he was involved in the wild sequence that saw two Ajax center backs red carded and Jorginho pot a second pk.

5 goals, 2 assists on the PL season (7.43 WhoScored)

1 assist in 2 UCL appearances.
Pulisic picked up a hip injury when he slid into the post following his goal versus Crystal Palace. Chelsea boss Frank Lampard had this to say about Pulisic’s injury. "He's got a bit of a hip issue but I'm hoping it's not too bad because the way he's in full flow at the minute is great to see." Pulisic will miss USMNT games vs Canada and Cuba.
DeAndre YedlinPremier League Newcastlevs Bournemouth:
Scored one goal/played 90' (7.38 WhoScored)

After starting the season on the sidelines with a lingering injury Yedlin has become a regular starter under new Magpies coach Steve Bruce.
1 goal on the season (6.66 WhoScored)Will likely start for the USMNT vs Canada on November 15th

In EPL, faces Aston Villa on 11/25
Zack SteffenBundesligaFortuna Dusseldorf (on loan from the Premier League's 4th place team, Manchester City)vs Schalke: 90 minutes/ conceded 3 goals / 5.51 WhoScored Was once highest rated gk in Europe, now 6.87 WhoScored with 2 clean sheetsSitting out USMNT friendlies, likely back on November 23rd vs Bayern Munich
Weston McKennieBundesligaSchalke 04vs Fortuna Dusseldork: 90 minutes/ yellow card/ 6.0 WhoScored0 goals and 1 assist on season (6.54 WhoScored)Will likely start for USMNT vs Canada on November 15th, then November 23rd vs Werder Bremen
Alfredo MoralesBundesligaFortuna Dusseldorfvs Schalke: 89 minutes/ yellow card/ 6.6 WhoScored1 goal, 1 assist on season (6.90 WhoScored)USMNT games vs Canada / Cuba then November 23rd vs Bayern Munich
Josh SargentBundesligaWerder Bremenvs Borussia Monchengladbach:
19 minutes/ 6.1 WhoScored
2 goals, 2 assists on season (6.61 WhoScored)Likely starting for USMNT vs Canada, then November 23rd vs Schalke
John BrooksBundesliga WofsburgDid not play6.86 WhoScored in 5 appearances Likely USMNT starter vs Canada if fit
Tyler AdamsBundesligaRB LeipzigDid not playN/AStill nursing injury
Sergino DestEredivisieAjaxDid not play in Eredivisie, was a second half sub in Ajax's crazy 4-4 draw vs Chelsea0 goals, 3 assists and 7.04 WhoScoredWill likely start for USMNT vs Canada
Tim ReamChampionshipFulhamvs Birmingham City: 90 minutes / 7.08 WhoScored which was his best showing of season6.68 WhoScoredUSMNT matches vs Canada and Cuba, Friday November 22nd vs QPR
Tyler BoydTurkey SuperligaBesiktasvs Denizlipspor: subbed on with 14 minutes to play; however did score in Europa League loss vs Braga6.14 WhoScored with no goals or assists domesticallyUSMNT matches vs Canada and Cuba

Other US players abroad

In the English Championship (second division), there are several players in and around the USMNT and the U23 U.S. nationals plying their trade. We won’t spend too much time tracking Geoff Cameron (Queens Park Rangers) or Eric Lichaj (Hull City) because neither defender seems to be on Gregg Berhalter’s radar.

However, Reading’s Matt Miazga (on loan from Chelsea) was a surprise omission from Berhalter’s call-ups. He’s been solid and steady for Reading all season.

Antonee Robinson (Wigan) is a speedy fullback with 7 full national team caps to his credit. Berhalter has left Robinson to the U23/Olympic team that is playing a tournament in preparation for upcoming qualification matches in the Canary Islands versus Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (on loan from Tottenham) has managed 10 Championship appearances this season. The 21 year-old will join Robinson in Tenerife.

Duane Holmes of Derby County is a 25 year-old attacking midfielder with two previous U.S. caps. He’s logged an assist in 11 total Championship appearances.

Over in Germany, World Cup goalscorer Julian Green netted a lovely free kick for Bundesliga 2 club Greuther Furth in a 3-2 loss to Sanhausen.

Green has never fulfilled the hype that made his capture for the USMNT the Sergino Dest of 2014. However, he is having a good season with 5 goals so far.

And U23 watchers were disappointed not to see Uly Llanez in Jason Kreis’ team, and with good reason. Although he is just 18 years old, Llanez has toyed with the competition at the Bundesliga U19 level, scoring 10 goals for the Wolfsburg youth side. That success has led to speculation of a post-winter camp call-up to ‎Die Wölfe.

No Christian Pulisic or Zack Steffen for USMNT Roster vs Canada

High Press 10 November 11, 2019

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter has named his 23-man roster for the upcoming CONCACAF Nations League matches against Canada and Cuba.

Christian Pulisic (hip) and Zack Steffen (knee) will not be joining the USMNT this go-around.

Missing (arguably) their two best players certainly won’t help a USMNT group that is already struggling under Berhalter’s system.

Here’s what you need to know about these CONCACAF Nations League matches. We’ll provide more information on match lines when they’re released.

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When is USMNT vs Canada?

The USMNT plays Canada on Friday, November 15th at 7:00pm ET. It takes place at Exploria Stadium in Orlando.

When is USMNT vs Cuba?

The USMNT plays Cuba on Tuesday, November 19th at 7:30pm ET. The match takes place at Truman Bodden Sports Complex in the Cayman Islands.

USMNT 23-man roster for Canada and Cuba

Here’s the squad Berhalter will have for the matches.


GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 62/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 8/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (9): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 37/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 9/0), Sergiño Dest (Ajax/NED; 2/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 9/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 14/2), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 12/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 38/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 60/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 11/2)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 12/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 17/6), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 14/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 18/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 4/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 20/0)

FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 30/5), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas/TUR; 8/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 37/7), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 11/3), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 54/10)



High Press Soccer Talks to US Soccer Sporting Director Earnie Stewart About Sergino Dest, “Consistency and Continuity,” and Gregg Berhalter’s System

Peter Nolan October 29, 2019

New York, NY – Monday was a good day for U.S. Soccer. In the morning, news broke that exciting 18 year-old Ajax fullback Sergino Dest had chosen to represent the U.S. and not the Netherlands, the country of his birth.

Then on Monday afternoon, U.S. Soccer introduced Vlatko Andonovski as the new coach of the USWNT.

Central to all of the day’s good news was Earnie Stewart, U.S. Soccer’s Sporting Director, who played a significant role in both pieces of positivity for an organization badly in need of some.

WNT General Manager Kate Markgraf name-checked Stewart at Andonovski’s introductory press conference, saying of the final interview process, “It involved Earnie Stewart, the Sporting Director, and Earnie had already gone through the process once and was valuable support throughout the entire hiring search process.”

Earnie Stewart interview on Sergino Dest

After Andonovski had been welcomed into the U.S. Soccer fold, High Press Soccer grabbed Stewart for a few private words. Stewart and USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter had been pictured over the weekend at Dest’s match for Ajax. So I asked Stewart whether he and Berhalter had known when they flew over to the Netherlands that they had won the Dest sweepstakes?

“No,” Stewart said, adding “we had a certain feeling that was going to be the case.” Stewart admitted that the process to land Dest had not been easy but was happy to share the credit. “Yeah but not so much only by Gregg and myself, there’s a lot of hard work that’s gone on over the years.”

“When you have dual nationals,” Stewart, himself a Netherlands/U.S. dual national, explained “a lot of times we talk about moments, but it is not only the moments. In this case, he played for our U17s, he played for our U20s, so there’s a lot of coaches that have put him in positions that made him happy of a culture that there is within U.S. Soccer. And then obviously that trends towards a men’s national team for someone who has that talent level.”

Stewart also acknowledged the role played by Dest’s father. “Sitting down and having the conversation with him and his father, who has his heritage here in the United States, and is a very proud person and was very proud of Sergino making this choice, is something that helps.”

Earnie Stewart on filling US youth soccer roles

With Tab Ramos leaving the U.S. U20 coaching job to take over the MLS Houston Dynamo, a number of youth coaching jobs are currently unfilled we asked Stewart about filling those posts.

“There are a couple of positions that are underway.” Stewart began, “We have some legal issues to do when it comes to visas,” the Sporting Director said, continuing to say, “there are some conversations with some other coaches, some American coaches because we want to have a lot of American coaches.”

With so much recent talk of building an integrated U.S. “style of play,” High Press Soccer asked Stewart if MNT coach Berhalter would be involved with the upcoming U.S. Youth National Team coaching hires?

Stewart did not say, precisely, but the Sporting Director made it clear that he and Behalter are on the same page when it comes to “the system” and that system is not going anywhere.

“I know there are a lot of conversations going on about a rigid style of play and all that,” Stewart began,”but in the end consistency and continuity, I don’t care where you work, that can be in soccer, that can be in basketball, but that can also be from an operational level within an organization. Consistency and continuity is the most important thing. When things go wrong, you have to have something to fall back on and if you’ve never trained or developed a style or a system then you’re going to have big problems.”

“That’s not something that I believe in,” Stewart underlined, “that’s not something that we believe in and obviously there’s nuances, left and right. And then,” Stewart noted, “there is the difference between the men and the women, where a lot of times the women are the best in the world and the men are trying to get there and those are two different places that you come from. So with one you’ll see that style, that system come out a little bit easier than you will with another team.”

Earnie Stewart on Berhalter’s system

So, about that system? High Press Soccer asked Stewart if- in a must win game, like say the CONCACAF Nations League rematch with Canada in Orlando on November 15-  the U.S. would consider tweaking that style and playing a bit more direct, for example?

“No,” Stewart said, “because you’re building for the future. It’s not that Gregg or myself or that anybody is saying we accept losing, but changing systems, like playing direct? I don’t know what that’s going to do.”

“It has everything to do with the players that you have in front of you,’” Stewart went on. “We’ve played several games in the year that I’ve been here where we were dominant in games and then you have the fact that playing within CONCACAF that the U.S National Team hasn’t won on foreign ground, in what is it three years now?”

“So all of a sudden, because of the coaching change, that doesn’t change the dynamic of the team, where it is right now. Building on the same principals that you have will lead to success, once again consistency and continuity is going to be the key in everything we do.”

“Yes,” Stewart conceded, “you’ll tweak it left and right, but to change total styles from one game to another? I don’t think that’s ever going to work at all. Sure it might work for one game or a period of time but if we do that over and over again I don’t that will work.”

“I hear everything,” Stewart said regarding reaction to the loss to Canada, “I went through it at the Philadelphia Union when we didn’t win a couple of games in a row. The exact same thing. It’s part of our job. You listen to it, you understand it from a perspective that you want to win, so that makes it really simple, that’s what you do.”

Sergiño Dest Chooses to Play for the USMNT

Tyler Everett October 28, 2019

Sergiño Dest has committed to play for the USMNT.

Didn’t see that one coming!

No, seriously, see for yourself:

Why did Dest choose the US?

Let’s start with the question of whether 18-year-old Dest made this decision because he truly believes in Gregg Berhalter, or because he doesn’t like his chances at breaking into the Dutch line-up, which is considerably stronger than what the U.S. is working with. The answer, considering the state of the USMNT, has to be “who cares??” The teenage dual national was choosing between the U.S. and the Netherlands, where he was born. It’s somewhat very surprising that anyone would want to tie their future to the group that was last seen getting embarrassed by Canada, but we’ll take it!

If we want to give the question a little more careful analysis, we can start by judging his expression and what he says in the video above to announce the decision. He doesn’t appear overjoyed, and talks about how tough it was to choose between the two. Is that because both were great options, or because he felt like he was settling? The pessimist/realist in me would go with the latter, but I think the appropriate reaction is to be excited about this.

Regardless of why Dest made this choice, this is extremely welcome news. At the risk of overstating the impact of a teenager’s decision, his commitment to Berhalter’s team makes today the best day for U.S. Soccer since … who knows? It’s been a while since there was anything to really be excited about, unless you count Christian Pulisic’s hat trick over the weekend.

But when Dest’s club team, Ajax (a squad you should be watching, if you’re not already), tweeted at 11:19 a.m. Eastern that he would be playing for the U.S., it was cause for celebration.

Who is Sergiño Dest?

Fortunately, Dest is not the only young American playing in a good European domestic league and or the Champions League. But he’s on a short list. And the fact he’s starting for a squad as good as Ajax at his age means his future is as bright as any U.S. prospect.

It’s not as if he’s in and out of the Ajax line-up, either. He has played 90 minutes in all three of his club’s Champions League group stage games. He’s been somewhat anonymous over those 270 minutes — which is a good thing for a defender — but earned solid WhoScored ratings of 7.45 vs. Lille on September 17, 6.73 vs. Valencia on October 2 and 6.23 vs. Chelsea on October 23. He also has three assists in his last two Eredivisie matches. So seriously, go watch Ajax, and keep an eye on the right back in the No. 28 shirt.

Though he plays right back for Ajax, he lined up on the left for the U.S. in both his appearances with the senior team. Regardless of where he ends up spending more of his time, he’s a massive boost for the U.S. program.

Now let’s see if he can spark his team to a win over Canada on November 15 in Orlando when the U.S. plays a rematch of that nightmare (check out that night’s High Press Pod for more on how awful that performance was), which he sat out while deliberating over his international future.

Embarrassment of riches?

OK, “embarrassment of riches” is an overstatement regarding the USMNT talent pool. But Berhalter’s defenders include Dest, DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle) and John Brooks (Wolfsburg). In the midfield, he has Pulisic, Weston McKennie (Schalke) and Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig). And we haven’t even mentioned Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf) or promising young forwards Timothy Weah (Lille) and Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen).

While that core probably won’t scare Germany or France, it’s more than enough for the red, white and blue to be winning comfortably against everyone in CONCACAF besides Mexico. And with Dest in the mix, another effort or two like what we saw vs. Canada should cause USSF to realize the players aren’t the problem, not that they were before Dest joined the fold today.

Here’s A List of Coaches Jay Berhalter Could’ve Hired Instead of His Brother Gregg

Chops October 17, 2019

Current USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter was under-qualified for the job. He was a year ago, and still is today. He got the job singularly and solely because his older brother, Jay Berhalter, is the #2 or #3 (depending on who you ask) at USSF.

As like with most nepotistic hires, this isn’t going well. And it’s not getting better.

How did we get here?

The original ESPN story about Berhalter’s hiring is making the rounds again after the USMNT laid another 💩, losing to Canada 2-0 in the CONCACAF Nations League. Especially getting attention is the farce of a “coaching search” leading to the hire of Gregg Berhalter that wasted a year of crucial player development:

This is a top down problem. Yes, it starts with the impotent powers that be at US Soccer. But this lack of progress falls squarely on Gregg Berhalter’s slender shoulder. From pulling Christian Pulisic out in the 60th minute on Tuesday night to his sleepy sideline demeanor, lack of urgency, and inability to read the room (like in the below vid), Berhalter is doing himself no favors.


If US Soccer really is focused on fielding the best national program it can, then a coaching search should happen immediately.

Unfortunately, that won’t happen.

Since it might be awhile until Berhalter gets sacked, let’s take a look at all of the coaches our national team could’ve hired instead. Prepare to be maddened.

Coaches the USMNT could’ve had instead of Gregg Berhalter

WARNING: This only gets more aggravating the more that you read.

WhoQualifications at the timeWhy wasn't he hired?What's he done since?
Gregg Berhalter- Played professionally in Europe for 15 years, including with Crystal Palace
- 44 national team caps
- 38% winning average as coach
- Won MLS Cup as player for LA Galaxy
- No trophies or honors as coach
- He was hired. By his brother. - Lost to Venezuela, Mexico (2x), Jamaica, and Canada with no wins of note
Jesse Marsch- Princeton
- 14-year MLS career (321 games)
- 3-time MLS Cup winner as player
- 3-time US Open Cup winner as player
- USMNT player (2 caps)
- USMNT assistant coach
- All-time winningest New York Red Bulls coach
- Led Red Bulls to Supporters Shield
- Not Jay Berhalter's brother
- Also, wasn't interviewed 🤷‍♀️
- Took over Red Bull Salzburg in Austrian Bundesliga
- Improved RBS to the 14th best squad in the world per 538 Global Club Rankings
- First American manager to EVER win a Champions League match
- Almost overcame 3-0 deficit against UCL champs Liverpool AT ANFIELD
Tata Martino- Distinguished 20+ year coaching career
- Coached a little never-heard-of-before club called BARCELONA
- Led Barcelona to a 20-game unbeaten streak
- Built Atlanta United to MLS's most successful new franchise
- Won MLS Cup in 2018
- Heavy experience at national level with Paraguay and Argentina
- MLS Coach of the Year in 2018
- Not Jay Berhalter's brother
- Martino had a "lack of proficiency in English" which clearly held him back at ATLUTD (?!)
- Not Jay Berhalter's brother
- Also, wasn't interviewed 🤷‍♀️
- Took over Mexico's national team
- Mexico has lost once in 15 matches since he took over
- Mexico has not lost to the US once since he took over
Peter Vermes- Imagine Gregg Berhalter, just slightly more successful
- 14 years as a player internationally and domestically
- 66 caps (11 goals)
- 1988 US Soccer Athlete of the YEar
- MLS Defender of the Year
- Soccer Hall of Famer
- Coach of Sporting KC since 2009, with one MLS Cup and three US Open trophies
- Not Jay Berhalter's brother
- Also, wasn't interviewed 🤷‍♀️
- Continues being a more successful MLS coach than Berhalter ever was
Tab Ramos- 14 year playing career internationally (Real Betis) and domestically
- 81 national caps, 8 goals
- Won the 2017 CONCACAF U20 title
- Current head coach of the U20 team
- Not Jay Berhalter's brother
- Also, wasn't interviewed 🤷‍♀️
- Just plugging along
Julen Lopetegui- Played for Real Madrid and Barcelona
- Coached Real Madrid
- Coached Spain's national team
- Lifetime 61% winning record is almost double Berhalter
- Won U19 & U21 championships with Spain (i.e. HE CAN DEVELOP YOUNG PLAYERS)
- Not Jay Berhalter's brother
- Also, wasn't interviewed 🤷‍♀️
- Took over at Sevilla, who will likely qualify for the Champions League

Other than Tab Ramos, is there one coach on that list who wasn’t clearly more qualified than Berhalter?

But we’re kind of stuck with Berhalter, right?

Yeah, basically.

Berhalter has no titles or trophies as a manager. Not in MLS. Not internationally. In MLS, he’s not even a 50% manager. Ultimately, the results he’s getting shouldn’t be surprising. It’s the results he’s been getting his entire career.

But Berhalter, for better or for worse, is going to be the manager until US Soccer decides that the way they approach everything right now is broken. Berhalter is bang average at best, but he’s far from the only problem. The problems run deep up the ranks of the US Soccer men’s program.

In a year when the USWNT dominated play on the field and headlines off of it, is there a more fitting whimper for the men’s program to end their season with than by losing to Canada 2-0?

If you love US soccer and you’re not outraged, you should be. There is enough talent to be competitive. This isn’t about the players. It’s the about the coach and a wayward national program.

Christian Pulisic’s Reaction to Gregg Berhalter Subbing Him Off Is All USMNT Fans Tonight (VIDEO)

High Press 10 October 16, 2019

Christian Pulisic, the best US men’s soccer prospect ever, the team’s #10, captain, and best field player, was subbed off by Gregg Berhalter in the 60th minute of the USMNT’s embarrassing 2-0 to Canada.

Pulisic was responsible for four of the five US shots on goal up until that point. His reaction to being subbed off by Berhalter, an under-qualified nepotistic hire, sums up all US soccer fans’ emotions tonight.

Full video including from when he was subbed here.

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Gregg Berhalter Yet Again Shows He Was the Wrong Hire for USMNT: Canada 2-0 Upset of US

Chops October 16, 2019

Here we are again, friends. Barely a month since the last disappointment. Another match, another opportunity for Gregg Berhalter to show he wasn’t the right hire for the USMNT.

Canada hasn’t beaten the US in 34 years. 1985. Until tonight. Canada beat the US 2-0 in the CONCACAF Nations League.

How is this a surprise?

Is anyone truly surprised that an unqualified nepotistic hire isn’t working out for the US?(

Berhalter changes his styles and tactics as much as he changes his outfit. Every match, it’s the same sweater and collared shirt. Every game, it’s the same tired shit from the US.

When asked after the match by Sebastian Salazar what his thoughts were, Berhalter declared with the emotion of someone who just woke from a nap that he was, “Disappointed we didn’t match what Canada was bringing.”

Berhalter is the disappointment

Consider the following:

  • Canada outshot the US 9 (5 on target) to 7 (3 on target)
  • Canada defeated the US for the first time since RONALD REAGAN WAS PRESIDENT
  • Sergino Dest looked at guaranteed playing time for the US vs not even a promise of playing time with the Dutch and said, “Yeah, I’m good. I’ll sit this out.”
  • Berhalter alienated his best player, Christian Pulisic, and the best player in the history of the US men’s program, by yanking him off the pitch after one hour

How’d that last one go?


Steffen, Long show up and shine

Even though the rest of the US team was lifeless and unorganized, credit must be given to Zack Steffen and Aaron Long. Both showed up big tonight. Too bad their manager couldn’t put the team in a position for success.

Nations League Preview – Canada vs USMNT: Odds, Game Time, Where to Watch

High Press 10 October 14, 2019

Who: Canada vs USMNT
When: Tuesday, October 15th @ 7:30pm ET
LineCanada +335 | Draw +260 | USMNT -120

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The USMNT travel up north to play Canada on Tuesday in the CONCACAF Nations League.

Unlike their 7-0 annihilation of Cuba, this should be a fairly decent measuring stick for if Gregg Berhalter is making any progress with the squad.

Here’s what you need to know about Canada vs USMNT.

(Also read: What is the CONCACAF Nations League)

Canada vs USMNT Odds

UPDATE: The US is favored in this match, but not as much as you’d expect. In fact, as the game gets closer, more money is coming in on Canada. The US moved from -120 to basically even money at -103. Canada’s odds got shorter from +335 to +270.

Canada +270 Draw +245 USMNT -103

The odds are surprising given that Canada is ranked 75th in the world by FIFA and the US is 21st. The US barely better than even-money shows that oddsmakers aren’t believers in Berhalter yet.

Canada vs USMNT where to watch

You can watch Canada vs USMNT at 7:30pm EDT on FS1.

What to expect?

This one is harder to say.

If you want to look at comparable results, Canada beat Cuba 1-0 (behind an early Alphonso Davies goal) on September 10th. However, they smashed Cuba 6-0 three days earlier on September 7th and 7-0 back in June.

Canada also put up a respectable 3-1 loss to Mexico in June.

They’re a team on the rise. They’ll be at home. They’ll give the US all they’ve got.

The US unquestionably have more talent. Coaching and tactics are the issue.

Expect a narrow US win or possibly an unlucky draw from this match. That’s certainly in line with what oddsmakers are thinking.

Where to Bet the CONCACAF Nations League in the US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer online in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook

USMNT Crushes Cuba 7-0. Here Are All of the Goals (VIDEO)

High Press 10 October 12, 2019

In a game that looked like a casual shooting practice, the USMNT crushed Cuba 7-0 on Friday night.

It was a good night for the American youngsters at the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League. Weston McKennie, who was deployed as a left-mid, recorded a hat-trick in just 13 minutes. Josh Sargent became only the 10th US teenager to earn his 10th cap before turning 20. He recorded one goal but was a force offensively throughout the night. Most encouraging was the soccer IQ he displayed. In the opening minute,  he made a veteran-savvy run to draw two Cuban defenders with him, leaving McKennie open for an easy goal.

Jordan Morris and Christian Pulisic (via pk) also scored.

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All USMNT goals vs Cuba

Here are all of the goals from USMNT vs Cuba.

So everything is good with the USMNT now, right?

Cuba is ranked 178th in the world. The US did what they were supposed to do. As the Wolf would say in Pulp Fiction, let’s not start

However, this was a good sign. If they can build on this and secure a convincing victory against Canada, Berhalter may finally have the spark he needs to get the US program moving in the right direction.

USMNT HEAVY Favorites Against Cuba in CONCACAF Nations League

High Press 10 October 11, 2019

Who: USMNT vs Cuba
When: Friday, October 11th @ 7:00pm ET
LineUSMNT -5000 | Draw +1200 | Cuba +2500

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The USMNT play their first CONCACAF Nations League match tonight against Cuba.

(Read: What is the CONCACAF Nations League)

They’ll go into the match as massive favorites. This is a tough spots for coach Gregg Berhalter. Win big, and they’ll say, “well, you’re supposed to smash Cuba.” Win unconvincingly (or worse), and it’s more of, “your system isn’t working and stop playing Zardes and Trapp.”

USMNT vs Cuba Match Odds

The USMNT is -5000 to beat Cuba. If you’re new to betting on soccer, that means you’d need to put $5000 down to win $100. A draw is +1200. Cuba are +2500 to win (so a $100 bet wins you $2500).

Cuba is on a downswing in terms of quality. They’ve plummeted to #178 in FIFA’s global rankings. The US is #21, which is actually the highest they’ve been since 2013.

USMNT Projected Starting XI vs Cuba

Berhalter has actually already said that Josh Sargent will get the starting nod up top. Berhalter probably knows he needs a good win here to build momentum. He’s had more success deploying a 4-3-3. Expect a starting XI along these lines:

Goalkeeper: Zack Steffen

Defense:  DeAndre Yedlin, Aaron Long, Matt Miazga, Tim Ream

Midfield: Christian Pulisic, Michael Bradley, Weston McKennie

Forward: Tyler Boyd, Josh Sargent, Jordan Morris

Where to Bet the CONCACAF Nations League in the US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer online in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook

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Checking In: How Are Christian Pulisic and Other USMNT Players Doing in Europe This Season?

Chops October 11, 2019

The CONCACAF Nations League is underway. On Friday, the USMNT play Cuba. Next week, they’ll play Canada.

While the squad will be missing Ajax regular Sergino Dest (possibly forever), most of the other major US squad members currently playing in Europe were called up this go-around.

Let’s check in on how they’re progressing this season.

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Christian Pulisic, Chelsea

Stats: 5 games (3 starts) in Premier League, 287 minutes, 0 goals & 2 assists, 6.73 WhoScored

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Christian Pulisic’s playing time at Chelsea.

Pulisic has fallen out of favor with manager Frank Lampard for a variety of reasons, none of which are panic-button-inducing (yet).

Just like last season at Borussia Dortmund when Jadon Sancho’s emergence (along with a series of injuries) knocked Pulisic from regular starting XI duties, this season sees the American ceding time to stars new and old. Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham have emerged as Chelsea’s best players.  Jorginho, Willian and Pedro all deserve minutes. Pulisic has not been bad at all. He’s just been bang average so far.

If the constant pressure and questions about playing time don’t break him down, he’ll emerge from this stronger.

Also Read: Three Things Christian Pulisic Can Do to Start at Chelsea 

Zack Steffen, Fortuna Duesseldorf

Stats: 7 games in Bundesliga, 630 minutes, 1 clean sheet, 7.17 WhoScored

Zack Steffen is on loan from Manchester City to Fortuna Duesseldorf in the Bundesliga.

City rarely whiff on well-known prospects, and they clearly saw something in Steffen. Until last week, he was statistically the best goalkeeper in all of Europe. He’s been the best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga for the past month.

Nobody is displacing Ederson or his giant neck tattoo at City any time soon. Don’t be surprised if Steffen is old to a big club this summer.

Matt Miazga, Reading

Stats: 6 games in English Championship (2nd division), 462 minutes, 6.88 WhoScored

Matt Miazga has been pretty solid for relegation candidate Reading this season.

While still prone to the occasional lapses in concentration, Miazga gets it done on the pitch. He’s been a monster winning aerials (over 5 per game) and on clearances (5.3 per game). Miazga is Reading’s best defensive player this season. He’s the best center-back option on Berhalter’s squad (yes, over Aaron Long).

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle

Stats: 2 games (1 start) in Premier League, 106 minutes, 6.59 WhoScored

‘Member him?

DeAndre Yedlin is only 26 but seems like he’s been around forever now. It also seems like he’s been injured forever.

Coming back again from injury, Yedlin is just re-integrating into his Newscastle squad. He’s a physically solid and focused player when fit and should be the starting right-back for the USMNT. At 26, he’s in his prime the next year or two. For his sake and the USMNT, let’s hope he stays healthy.

Tim Ream, Fulham

Stats: 10 games in Championship, 900 minutes, 6.68 WhoScored

At 32, Tim Ream actually has been around forever.

The left-back has been solid though not “Matt Miazga solid” for Championship side Fulham. What he lacks in traditional defensive metrics like tackles won, aerials, and clearances he makes up for with his build-from-the-back qualities.

Regardless, it would be odd (or a poor testament to upcoming US defensive talent) for Ream to earn starter minutes through this next Olympics and World Cup cycle.

Weston McKennie, Schalke 04

Stats: 7 games (5 starts) in Bundesliga, 504 minutes, 6.59 WhoScored

The book on Weston McKennie isn’t complicated. Start him at defensive center-mid and he’ll shine. Start him elsewhere and he’ll disappoint.

He’s performed at bordering on elite-esque levels in his three starts at defensive center-mid for Schalke. When put in a more attacking role, he hasn’t been comfortable.

Given his proclivity at dark defensive arts, it’d be interesting to see Berhalter give McKennie some center-back minutes.  Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco tried McKennie there with positive results. However, that level of experimentation and out-of-the-box thinking isn’t Berhalter’s forte.

Tyler Boyd, Besiktas

Stats: 5 games (4 starts) in Turkey’s Super Lig, 267 minutes, 6.14 WhoScored

No way to sugar coat this one: Tyler Boyd hasn’t been that good for Besiktas (i.e. Loris Karius’s club) this season.

He’s contributed nothing offensively. No goals. No assists. Less than one shot per game. Just .2 key passes per game.

Not all of this is entirely his fault. The 24 year-old hasn’t played one match in the same position this season. It’s hard to build continuity and chemistry when you’re constantly shifted around the pitch.

Boyd definably does one thing well: finish. He’ll need help from his teammates getting him the ball in blocks of space where he can rip shots off. Otherwise, he doesn’t add much right now.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen

Stats: 6 games (4 starts) in Bundesliga, 352 minutes, 1 goal & 1 assist, 6.62 WhoScored

Josh Sargent is 19. He’s (sometimes) starting as a center-forward for a mid-table Bundesliga squad. These things are all positives.

While he’s only scored one domestic goal this season, it was a dazzler.

Berhalter should start Sargent up top both Nations League friendly matches. Sargent is the striker of the future (for now) for the USMNT. Especially if Jozy Altitore is injured, Sargent is the best option.

Of course, Berhalter will start Gyasi Zardes instead.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig

We’d be remiss not to mention one of the most promising of the entire bunch, Tyler Adams.

The 20 year-old RB Leipzig stand-out has been injured since May (he won’t be participating in the Nations League). However, it sounds like he’s set for a return at the end of this month.

Adams posted impressive numbers after moving to the Bundesliga last season. He could prove to be the compliment needed to unlock Pulisic, Sargent et al during this cycle.

USMNT: Gregg Berhalter Calls Up 26 While Dest Weighs Options

Peter Nolan October 2, 2019

Gregg Berhalter has named his roster for the USMNT Nations League debut, a competition former U.S. boss Jurgen Klinsmann recently derided as “a waste of time,” in conversation with ESPN’s Herculez Gomez.

With the Americans facing opposition like Cuba and Canada, Klinsmann’s central point, that the U.S. – as well as Mexico and Costa Rica– will find it hard to raise their level of play against teams of this level, is hard to argue.

Still, that is not Berhalter’s fault. However, it could become his problem if the U.S. does not impress this month, with young and improving Canada a potential banana peel.

No Sergino Dest

The big news emanating from this roster reveal is the absence of rising Dutch/U.S. international fullback Sergino Dest just days after Dest met with Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman. Dest featured in both of the recent U.S. friendlies in September and Berhalter has made it clear that he wants the 18-year-old to pledge his future to the Stars and Stripes.

Berhalter has recalled a couple of trusted players just back from injury layoffs in DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Miazga, and wisely reinstated Toronto pair Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, having left them out to concentrate on Toronto FC duties in September.

Is Berhalter’s roster construction too conservative?

Those were easy calls for the coach but some of his moves raise the question, is Berhalter too loyal and too conservative with his roster callups?

All coaches need to display a certain amount of loyalty, otherwise, how can any manager expect that same loyalty in return. That said, that admirable trait can descend into its less desirable offshoot – stubbornness.

We’ve all seen a coach that makes otherwise sound tactical decisions, yet continually selects one particular player that causes everyone to throw their arms up and cry, “oh no, not again.”

By now you know where we are headed, Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes. Yep, Berhalter has selected the favored duo from his Columbus days even as their inclusion becomes more and more difficult to justify.

Now, it may not matter all that much because Trapp remains behind Michael Bradley while Berhalter has included both Jozy Altidore and Josh Sargent in the forward line, and both should be preferred over Zardes.

And it is Cuba and Canada.

Still, what message does it send if Berhalter sends out Trapp and/or Zardes versus Cuba, simply because he trusts them in his system?

That loyalty/stubbornness can be read as timidity when we look at the inclusion of defenders Daniel Lovitz and Walker Zimmerman. Zimmerman has shown flashes against lower-ranked CONCACAF teams but has not been excelling for FC Dallas. A pair of more intriguing options might have been Cameron Carter-Vickers who is playing for Championship strugglers Stoke and Erik Palmer-Brown, on loan to Austria Wien from mighty Manchester City and surely worth a look.

More egregious is the omission of fullback Antonee Robinson with Montreal Impact defender Daniel Lovitz receiving the call in his stead.

Having struggled defensively in previous U.S. outings, Robinson was rightly bypassed in recent U.S. camps but the dynamic flanker is currently in good form for Wigan in the English Championship and has a considerably higher ceiling than Lovitz.

Berhalter has shown some inclination to roll the dice as the selection of 18- year-old Philadelphia midfielder Brenden Aaronson suggests but matches against Cuba and Canada would have seemed to be a good opportunity for Berhalter to boldly kick off the post-Trapp/Zardes era.


GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 61/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 8/0), Zack Steffen (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 16/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 8/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 8/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 13/2), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 10/0), Matt Miazga (Reading/ENG; 17/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 36/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 59/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 11/2)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union; 0/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 150/17), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 11/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 15/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 32/13), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 16/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 20/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 3/0)

FORWARDS (7): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 115/42), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 28/5), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 4/0), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas/TUR; 7/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 35/6), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 9/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 53/10)

Time to Admit What We All Know: Gregg Berhalter Isn’t the Right Coach for the USMNT

Chops September 7, 2019

Let’s face it, because deep down we all know it’s true: Gregg Berhalter isn’t the right coach to resurrect the USMNT. And the US program is doomed until they figure this out.

That doesn’t mean that Gregg Berhalter isn’t a decent human being. Or that he’s even a bad coach. But he’s not the right coach.

The USMNT lost 3-0 to Mexico on Friday night. Save for the first 20 minutes, it wasn’t even remotely close. Despite the game taking place in New Jersey, it was essentially a home match for Mexico. Their fans were as dominant as their squad.

There’s no momentum for the USMNT or its program. This is US Soccer Federation’s fault. They screwed this up. They lack vision. They’re a joke.

Gregg Berhalter should’ve never been hired

Berhalter fell ass backwards into this job. His coaching record prior to taking over as manager of the USMNT was mediocre at best.

He got the job because his brother, Jay Berhalter, is one of the Federation’s highest-ranking executives (Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer at the time of Jay’s hire). There’s no other reason. Berhalter wasn’t in demand anywhere else.

There was a better choice right under US Soccer’s nose: the man who coached Mexico to their thrashing of the Americans, Tata Martino.

Hiring Tata would’ve taken vision. It would’ve taken ambition. It wouldn’t taken everything that US men’s soccer lacks.

They lack everything that defines the US women’s program.

Confidence. Ambition. Vision. Guts.

While the women’s program dominates the world and draws massive crowds everywhere they play, the men can’t even deliver more fans to a match in their own country.

That’s what gutless nepotism gets you. It gets you a coach that when the US needed a goal to save face at the end of the game, he allows his best player, Christian Pulisic, to give a penalty shot to someone else (Josh Sargent). While Sargent has a promising career ahead both with country and club, Berhalter should’ve demanded Pulisic take that penalty. But that would require some Berhalter lacks.

There’s no shame losing to Mexico. They’re an elite team. They play with passion and pride.

It is a problem when you take steps backwards with nepotistic, bland hires. This was the worse loss the US has had against Mexico in a decade. It’s not going to get better. Not unless US Soccer recognizes they need to fundamentally change.

USMNT Woos Sergino Dest With Start vs Mexico

Peter Nolan September 6, 2019

Who: USMNT vs Mexico
When: Friday, September 6th at 8:30pm ET
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
LineUSMNT +210 | Draw +240 | Mexico +130

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Florham Park, NJ – USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter’s Sergino Dest Appreciation Tour continued with Thursday afternoon’s announcement that the Dutch-born U.S. dual national will start tonight’s rivalry match at MetLife Stadium versus Mexico.

Berhalter’s reveal was the biggest news to emerge from his press conference. It continues the USMNT’s wooing of Dest, whose impressive play for Ajax has prompted concerns of a Dutch swoop.

Communication is key in keeping Dest

Asked about Dest and about dual nationals in general, Berhalter said on Thursday, “It’s about communicating with these players and then creating an environment that they want to be in. I think that’s important.”

Berhalter was wise to stress communication, given the criticism U.S. Soccer has faced over losing the likes of Jonathan Gonzalez, who faulted U.S. coaches and staffers for not keeping in contact with him before switching his international allegiance to Mexico.

Berhalter then narrowed his focus to Dest. “Sergino is here, he’s doing great in camp, he’s going to play, he’s going to start the game tomorrow.” The revelation came as a surprise and it was notable that the coach gave no other hints regarding the U.S. lineup.

Berhalter continued, emphasizing Dest’s U.S. connections:

“It’s a great opportunity for us to forget about the dual national part of it just to, you know, to give a player who’s been in our youth national team program, who’s played strong in the under 20 World Cup, who’s now broken in with the first team of Ajax, to give him an opportunity with the first team.”

Getting Dest cap-tied

From there, Berhalter continued to play down his and U.S. Soccer’s pursuit of Dest. The upcoming Ajax star can be cap tied at next month’s CONCACAF Nations League. Berhalter said, “I think that’s what, that’s what’s nice about this story, you know, it’s not about, to me the dual nationalism of him. It’s about, he’s come from our programming, and he’s performed well, and he’s really achieved something in this short period of this short month at Ajax, and it’s nice to be able to reward that.”

Berhalter’s remarks on Thursday are consistent with his evaluation of Dest in a conference call with U.S. Soccer media just eight days ago. Then the U.S. coach made his enthusiasm for the Ajax man clear.

“Sergino is a guy we’ve been tracking, we’ve been watching his progress with Ajax, making his way up to the first team. We’re excited about him. We’re excited he can play both wing-back positions, he has a good offensive skill set. He fits into the profile we’re looking for in our fullbacks. We’ve been really intrigued with how he’s been playing in Ajax.”

Berhalter also praised the 18-year old’s cerebral ability saying, “I really like how he interprets it (the game).”

Dest fits a glaring need for the USMNT squad

Part of what Berhalter likes so much about Dest is that ability to play on either flank. Dest made little of the difference at Wednesday’s round table press meetings saying with a shrug, “for me it doesn’t matter.” Asked which he preferred, Dest again replied simply, “it doesn’t matter.”

Given the problem that the USMNT has had in filling the left fullback role over the years, it is no surprise that Berhalter is excited about Dest. However, Dest seems better suited to the right side in Berhalter’s system, which often features a stay at home fullback on the left paired with a right-sided fullback that tucks in and plays centrally in an attacking role when the U.S. is in possession.

Wherever Dest lines out at MetLife Stadium, the prospect of facing Mexico is unlikely to phase him.

And there is this, Dest’s reaction on Wednesday to facing the USMNT’s biggest rival. “Yeah, I’m looking forward because it’s a rival for the U.S. And at the CONCACAF (U20) that was like, my first time against Mexico. And yeah, so as soon as I’ve heard it’s the rival of the U.S., I always want to be there. So yeah, I hope I can play.”

Tonight Dest will get that chance. Will it be enough to sway the dynamic fullback to choose the U.S. over the Netherlands?

Stay tuned.

USMNT vs Mexico: Odds, Game Time, and Predicted Starting XI

High Press 10 September 6, 2019

Who: USMNT vs Mexico
When: Friday, September 6th at 8:30pm ET
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
LineUSMNT +210 | Draw +240 | Mexico +130

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The USMNT plays Mexico tonight (Friday) at 8:30pm ET. FS1 will broadcast the match.

The US vs Mexico rivalry has always been intense. As soccer’s popularity has grown in the US, and as more American players are finding success and recognition abroad, the matches are attracting more attention than ever. This has only been heightened by the exciting 1-0 Mexican win at the Gold Cup this summer.

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter has brought up a number of young players that the American public has been waiting to see in international action. Along with USMNT mainstays Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Zack Steffen, emerging stars Sergino Dest and Josh Sargent will likely see action this game.

USMNT vs Mexico Odds

Game odds have not moved during the week. At DraftKings Sportsbook NJ, the US is a home underdog at +210. Mexico is priced at +130. A draw is +240.

If you’re looking for some player props, here are First and Last Goal Scorer odds:

  • Hirving Lozano +475
  • Raúl Jiménez +510
  • Javier Hernández +550
  • Josh Sargent +600
  • Gyasi Zardes +600
  • Jordan Morris +650
  • Corey Baird +750
  • Christian Pulisic +900
  • Tyler Boyd +1050
  • Paxton Pomykal+1050
  • Weston McKennie +1400
  • Jonathan Dos Santos +1500

Expect a lot of action on the +900 Pulisic wager. He’s certainly the US’ best and most popular player. It’s surprising to see him listed so long. The smarter money though is on Lozano or Jiménez. Josh Sargent being priced at +600 — the same as Gyasi Zardes — indicates that oddsmakers think he has a decent shot at starting this game.

USMNT vs Mexico predicted starting XI

This one is hard to pin down. It’s come out that Sergino Dest was promised a start in this game, so US fans will be glad to see him on the pitch. You’d think that at a minimum Josh Sargent would see the field. We just don’t know if that’s at the beginning of the game or as a second half sub. There is more excitement about this selection than usually, as Berhalter has so many new options. Here’s our best take it.

Predicted USMNT Starting XI vs Mexico

To us, the biggest 50/50 calls on here is Zardes vs Sargent and Pomykal vs Baird. If Berhalter brought Sargent up for this match, you’d think it was with the intent of playing him. However, Berhalter also likes who he likes, giving Trapp (especially with no Michael Bradley around) and Zardes a shot at starting.

Oddsmakers think Jordan Morris and Corey Baird are among the favorites on the US for the first goal scored. That nudges them past Tyler Boyd and Paxton Pomykal into the starting XI, respectively.

Where to Bet USMNT vs Mexico in the US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer online in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook

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The Future is Now as Pulisic, McKennie, and Steffen Lead the New Look USMNT

Peter Nolan September 5, 2019

Who: USMNT vs Mexico
When: Friday, September 6th at 8:30pm ET
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
LineUSMNT +210 | Draw +240 | Mexico +130

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Short Hills, NJ – Missing out on the 2018 World Cup was a serious blow to the USMNT leading to the resignations of coach Bruce Arena and President of US Soccer Sunil Gulati. Players weren’t spared the house cleaning, either. First interim boss Dave Sarachan pushed veterans aside while he blooded numerous newcomers in his year in charge before yielding to “permanent” coach Gregg Berhalter. Now, Berhalter has elected to play the kids in a pair of friendlies versus Mexico and Uruguay over the FIFA International Break.

Wednesday afternoon in a roundtable setting, High Press Soccer was among the small group of reporters that spoke to three of the young veterans that are set to lead this team in the present and into the future.

Pulisic, McKennie, Steffan and Adams are the present and the future

RB Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams remains sidelined with a stubborn injury, leaving it to Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Zack Steffan to represent the “future is now” contingent.

Any discussion of the USMNT starts with the young man from Hershey, Pennsylvania, Christian Pulisic. The $73 million dollar man was asked about Mexico, who defeated the U.S in the Gold Cup final 1-0, Chelsea, and his adjustment to the English Premier League.

“Yeah, we’re taking it very seriously” Pulisic began. Referencing the Gold Cup Final defeat, the 20-year-old attacker said it was “obviously a disappointment. You know, a tough one in the final wanting to win that one bad. But the best thing is, we have a chance second chance now. So we’re excited for it doesn’t matter that it’s a friendly.”

“Incredible” Premier League a “challenge” for Pulisic

SHORT HILLS, NJ- SEPTEMBER 04: Christian Pulisic #10 of the United States Men’s National Team answers questions from reporters during the interview session leading up to the Friendly match between the United States and Mexico. The interview was held at the Hilton Hotel in Shortt Hills, NJ on September 04, 2019, USA. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

Words can tell part of the story of Pulisic’s delight at joining Chelsea and playing in the Premier League and here are some from the man himself.

“It’s amazing,” Pulisic volunteered. “I mean, it’s everything I hoped it would be and more so, it’s incredible.” “It’s been great learning, you know, under [new manager Frank Lampard],” Pulisic went on. “And playing with top players and in the Premier League, it’s, it’s incredible. I’m still I’m still learning a lot. And I have a long way to go. But it’s been great so far.”

The rest of the story was told by the ear to ear grin that was plastered across the face of U.S. men’s soccer.

Asked about his adjustment to the English League, Pulisic had this to say. “I mean, it’s not like a huge difference or something that you really notice but it’s great man. The speed. It’s very intense. The games are very intense. Every single game I’ve played so far has been had a new challenge. And I mean, it’s, it’s great. And I’m learning a lot.”

It was noted that Pulisic signed for Chelsea when Maurizo Sarri was the manager, but since then former Chelsea (and New York City FC) star Frank Lampard has taken over at Stamford Bridge. Pulisic was asked about playing for the younger Lampard.

“Yeah, I mean, it worked out really well for sure. Frank’s a great guy, and he’s helped me so much and he understands you know, where I’m coming from. And yeah, he’s been really, really good job and helped me, teaching us, especially, a lot of the younger guys on the team and also mixing in well with some of the more experienced guys and it’s been a pleasure to work with him and to play with this team. It’s been it’s been amazing.” – Pulisic on Lampard’s influence

Who you got: Pulisic or Lozano?

With Chelsea discussed, one of the Mexican journalists on hand asked Pulisic about the debate raging in Mexico: Who is better — Pulisic or 24 year-old El Tri star Hirving “Chucky” Lozano — who recently transferred from Ajax to Napoli?

Pulisic demurred, saying Lozano is a fine player, although he was unaware of the debate. When asked more bluntly by a second Mexican journalist, “Who is better you are Chucky”  Pulisic brought the house down when he said, “I’m not gonna give you like an Ibra answer,” before adding more seriously, “but obviously, I’m very confident in myself.”

McKennie still adjusting to Bundesliga

Weston McKennie followed Pulisic’s path to Germany, joining Schalke 04. Like Pulisic, McKennie quickly made his way to regular first team action. Also like Pulisic, McKennie has become a centerpiece with the USMNT.

Recently turned 21, McKennie is more outgoing than his former youth national teammate and has emerged a leader for club and country despite his young age.

Three games into the new Bundesliga season, McKennie and his Schalke club are still adjusting to a new coach, former U.S. international David Wagner. Although Wagner is German-born and raised, McKennie said of his relationship with his new boss, “it’s always good whenever you have a coach that has been through it himself, because it’s more relateable.”

“Honestly,” McKennie added, “you guys may not believe it but me and him, we don’t speak in English. We’re speaking German. Which I was also surprised to find that out, too. But, he’s real big on making sure everyone knows German.”

Not that McKennie objects. “I think it is right to do. We play in Germany, live in Germany.” That is not to say that the American connection doesn’t come into play. “Being able to connect to him on a more personal level, you know, whenever I speak about things that are in America, he knows what I’m talking about. So I think that’s also good.”

Positional stability would also be good for the versatile McKennie, who was played all over the field by the previous regime at Schalke. Does McKennie feel that Wagner will let him find a spot and stay put?

“I definitely hope so,” was McKennie immediate response. “I think we’re on the same page when it comes to that. I think he sees me as a midfielder, you know, six, eight, or 10, one of the three, not a right back or forward or left wing. So, I think he also realized that I’m best when I’m in that position. And that’s whenever I feel like I can bring something to the table.”

Steffen also cutting his teeth in Germany

SHORT HILLS, NJ- SEPTEMBER 04: Zack Steffen #1 of the United States Men’s National Team answers questions from reporters during the interview session leading up to the Friendly match between the United States and Mexico. The interview was held at the Hilton Hotel in Shortt Hills, NJ on September 04, 2019, USA. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

No team can succeed without a top-class goalkeeper and if the start of the Bundesliga season is anything to go by, the USMNT is set both now and well into the future with 24-year-old Zack Steffen between the pipes.

Steffen failed to settle during his first stint in Germany, where he signed with Freiburg after his sophomore season at the University of Maryland. Returning to the U.S, Steffen eventually took over the number one job with the Columbus Crew, earning a MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award and catching the eye of Premier League champions Manchester City.

After signing with City, Steffen was loaned to Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf and this time around things have gone better for the talented keeper. Helping smooth the way for Steffen’s second stint in Germany was USMNT and Dusseldorf teammate Alfredo Morales, who reached out to Steffen during the off-season.

“He and I really kind of bonded since me being over there. So it’s great to have another familiar face over here,” Steffen noted.

“It was really nice of him to reach out to me,” Steffen noted.  “I was on vacation when he did and it brought a smile to my face just because to have some familiarity over there already because everything’s new, it was great and definitely lucky to have him over there.”

A more mature Steffen has certainly looked the part on the pitch, earning Man of the Match honors in Dusseldorf’s season-opening 3-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.

Steffen feels that the Gold Cup was “a really good stepping stone for this U.S. team.” He explained, “For a lot of us, that was our first senior tournament that we were really thrown into, so we played against some good teams. And we had some games where we thought we could have played better could have been more composed on the ball and could have worked together more, and then we had some games that we played well.”

Things have started out well for Steffen in his Bundesliga reprise, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. number one has given up on Man City. “Yeah, my goal is obviously is to play for City, get back to City and compete there for a spot. I have those goals, but at the same time I take it day-by-day and week-by-week and try and progress and get better. Playing the games and executing my role and then learn from the guys on my team and my coaches and that process one day will hopefully get me to City.”

USMNT “Ready” for Showdown Against Mexico

Peter Nolan September 4, 2019

Who: USMNT vs Mexico
When: Friday, September 6th at 8:30pm ET
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
Line: USMNT +210 | Draw +240 | Mexico +130

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Whippany, NJ – Gregg Berhalter, his staff, USSoccer functionaries, and a 26 player USMNT roster assembled Tuesday afternoon in New Jersey to begin preparations for Friday’s friendly with Mexico.

Just a little over one month ago, the two nations faced off in the Gold Cup final with Mexico claiming the spoils thanks to a 73rd-minute goal from Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos.

And while the powers that be may prefer to play down the “revenge game” angle, Reggie Cannon, a breakout star for the U.S. at the 2019 Gold Cup, did not shy away from that designation when he spoke to a small group of reporters yesterday.

“Facing Mexico yet again yeah; it’s gonna be a revenge match,” was the FC Dallas fullback’s frank assessment of Friday’s match at Red Bull Arena.

“We’re all super excited to  play this game,” Cannon relayed, “and you know, I think the team coming out here, you could sense that, that feeling of, you know what we’re going to go out there and getting it done. We were so close, you know, we could taste it, and after that game, we’re all disappointed in ourselves and the team and the way we played. We’re going to come back out and have that fire and that hunger again this time the summer is gonna be different.”

Still, the 21-year-old wasn’t sweating it, even finding time to joke with the press about wearing his jersey backward on what was a perfect day for training in Whippany, New Jersey.

Cannon, Robinson among a group of youngsters ready to shine

Coming into the Gold Cup, Cannon had become something of a forgotten man for the U.S. He earned a call for the first competitive matches of coach Gregg Berhalter’s National Team tenure only after Tyler Adams was forced to withdraw through injury.

Cannon appreciates the strides he made in the Gold Cup. He handed a large portion of the credit to the coach who originally snubbed him, Gregg Berhalter. “I think the difference is that set of confidence Greg instilled in me, the confidence that I needed to kind of make that Gold Cup run.”

Cannon still sounds just a bit surprised by his rapid ascent up the USMNT ladder. “You know, from being the last guy called into camp to playing the Gold Cup final against Mexico, one of the biggest -the biggest game of my life. I think that’s super important coming into these games. Greg continually gives me confidence.”

With the pressure of the Gold Cup absent from this two-game set versus Mexico and Uruguay, and with perhaps one eye on next month’s CONCACAF Nations League, Berhalter has called in a young group.

Cannon acknowledged as much, “Yeah, the average age, it’s pretty young for this camp. And I think Greg’s really trying to get people situated and get into the concept of national team, you know, people have different paths, different timelines, but you just come in and the youth wave for us to coming.”

Part of that “youth wave” is Atlanta United center-back, Miles Robinson. In a conference call last week, Berhalter said of Robinson that “form pushed [him] into the team.”

So, what role can we expect Robinson to play for the national team?

Robinson did not seem too sure when High Press Soccer grabbed him for a quick 1 on 1 chat on Tuesday. The 22-year-old said, “…just trying to be out here, competing, play hard and know the experience, get to understand the guys and stuff like that.”

If Robinson sounds delighted to be here that is because he is.

“Gregg called me saying how do you feel about being in the camp and all that. So it’s pretty awesome.”

Although a newcomer to the full national team, Robinson is well aware of the importance of the USA/Mexico rivalry. “Yeah, definitely,” the Atlanta defender told High Press Soccer. “It’s an honor to be out here with the guys and now representing the country and it should be a good one.”

“And,” Robinson concluded, “I think the guys are ready.”

Where to Bet USMNT vs Mexico in the US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer online in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook

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