A new article has shed light on the USMNT’s trip back the World Cup, as the Americans are just 11 days from facing Wales in the opening match of their tournament.

The US heartbreakingly missed out on the tournament in 2018, and current coach Gregg Berhalter was brought in to reset a stumbling program.

And as a report from Sports Illustrated reveals, forming the foundations of such a young squad was quite the balancing act for the coach. 

Ricardo Pepi (left), Jesus Ferreira, Paul Arriola and Kellyn Acosta celebrate the team's qualification for the World Cup

Ricardo Pepi (left), Jesus Ferreira, Paul Arriola and Kellyn Acosta celebrate the team’s qualification for the World Cup

Berhalter recalled having to deal with a situation during the 2019 Gold Cup where he was informed by security that four of his younger players didn’t return until after 4 a.m. the night before.

Wanting to communicate his feelings about that lateness, but also realizing that he’d be heavily relying on young talent going forward – the US will be the youngest team at the World Cup – Berhalter remembered telling his players they needed to ‘align our expectations’ but allowed them to come up with a curfew they thought was fair.

That curfew wound up being 2:15 am – to give the players a couple hours of downtimes after late match finishes – and it wasn’t the first time members of the team negotiated with Berhalter about timing.

A few months later, according to the article, the team’s ‘leadership council’ informed their coach that afternoon practices – intended to accommodate jet lag – were actually harder on some of the players.

Gregg Berhalter has rebuilt a stumbling USMNT program to return them to the World Cup

Gregg Berhalter has rebuilt a stumbling USMNT program to return them to the World Cup

Berhalter was happy to change the times, and his willingness to accept input and try to to make his players comfortable has been a tenet of his time in charge.

‘It’s a huge thing, that you feel that you can go and talk to [the coaches] and say, ‘Hey, I think we should do this,’ Inter Miami full-back DeAndre Yedlin told SI.

‘With younger kids, that’s really important. They feel, This is also my team. I also have a say. I helped formulate this culture and this balance.’  

US Soccer takes other measures to make sure their players feel at home in camp.

They provide a team barista and barber to the players, with a players’ lounge equipped with ping pong, board games and even VR Golf.

Players like Brenden Aaronson and Christian Pulisic spoke to the level of togetherness in the USMNT squad in the piece

Players like Brenden Aaronson and Christian Pulisic spoke to the level of togetherness in the USMNT squad in the piece

The camaraderie of the USMNT, as the article points out, has even swayed dual nationals like Yunus Musah, Sergino Dest and Malik Tillman to commit to America when all could have played for other countries.

A group of players made it a point to introduce the German-born Tillman to Chick Fil-A while they were in Cincinnati, while coaches have been known to join the players in conditioning exercises and play ping pong with them. 

‘I play with guys that go to national teams. I know it’s not that way,’ Brenden Aaronson told SI.

Berhalter will hope the good vibes continue into the tournament as the official squad is set to be announced Wednesday night.

While much of the squad won’t come as a surprise, several decisions could divide opinion.

It’s likely that one of Josh Sargent, Ricardo Pepi, Jordan Pefok and Jesus Ferreira will not be taken to lead the line, while goalie Zack Steffen is reportedly not included in the squad.

A leaked version of the squad released on Tuesday did not include Pefok, while Fulham center back Tim Ream, Borussia Monchengladbach full back Joe Scally and the Seattle Sounders’ Cristian Roldan were notable inclusions.

Steffen was also included in the supposed roster. 

Regardless of who Berhalter picks, his squad will look to bring their youthful exuberance to Qatar and get out of a stern group that includes, Wales, England and Iran. 

 

The USMNT are set to begin play in the World Cup in less than two weeks

And a new article provides interesting details behind their journey to Qatar

Gregg Berhalter was tasked with rebuilding the USMNT after he was hired

And he now brings the youngest squad into the World Cup’s Group B

Click here for all your latest international Sports news from DailyMail.com





Source link