The highlights of of Berhalter's media call to discuss the USMNT Gold Cup roster
July 01, 2021
UNITED STATES NATIONAL TEAM manager Gregg Berhalter addressed the media on Thursday in a conference call following the announcement of his roster for the 2021 Gold Cup and the New Jersey native touched upon many of the issues he faced when putting together his team.
He spoke at length about the need for many European-based players to remain with their clubs this preseason. He also spoke about the difficult cuts he had to make with Aaron Herrera, Kyle Duncan, and Chris Mueller.
He also stressed that this is a big opportunity for a number of players including Miles Robinson and Daryl Dike who will have a big opportunity to be part of the team moving forward if they perform well at the Gold Cup.
ASN’s Brian Sciaretta was on the call and here were the highlights.
Press conference highlights
Issues in putting together the roster
“First and foremost, our priority is to win the Gold Cup. Any time we're competing for a trophy, we want to win it. And it's going to take a good effort by the group. But it's certainly a focus of ours. The second priority is looking at virtually a completely different player pool, preparing them for competitive qualifying fall in in this in this format. And the Gold Cup is competitive fixtures. We know the games are going to be difficult. And by the end of this tournament, we're going to have virtually the entire player pool prepared for the fall World Cup qualifying.”
“But overall, we don't want to look at this as an experimental team. We want to look at this as a team that could compete to win the Gold Cup. Let's be really clear with that. And that's going to be our expectations. And will it be difficult? Absolutely. But we think there's enough backbone in this group. We think there's enough veteran leadership in this group to make a run to win the Gold Cup.”
“We knew it was going to be a challenge from a roster standpoint. And we already started talking about what direction we were going to go with each of the rosters. So here we are announcing the roster for the Gold Cup. And I think this is exactly in line with what we were what we had in mind. You know, the major European players were going to get time off after nations left to prepare for their season. Some other players that are in critical situations in Europe. We felt that it was more important for them to be in pre-season with their team and give them a good chance of making a positive impact with their new coaching staff or with their club rather than to be in Gold Cup.”
“One example to give you is David Ochoa. We wanted to get him involved in the senior team, but we felt like if he wasn't going to be playing in Gold Cup to miss five games in Salt Lake would be too many games. So we opted to bring David to Nations League instead of Gold Cup. Other guys like Brian Reynolds - he has a new coach in Jose Mourinho. And we felt if he misses all the pre-season with Mourinho. We know the track record of Mourinho liking to play older players. This would set him back too far to be able to make an impact with us in the future. We had a number of cases like that. Eric Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga is another one that we're balancing the workload of the summer and his season. So this took place for a number of players…Johnny [Cardoso], just broke back into his team in Internacional - and for him to go away for a month was going to really hurt his chances with that team. So that's another guy. So it was a give and take. It was a juggling act and it wasn't easy. And because we still want to put a team on the field that's going to compete to win the Gold Cup.”
Lack of wing and central defense depth
I don't think we have true wingers in the group. When you look at, you know, we have Hoppe and Lewis slated at left winger and we have Paul Arriola and Nicolas Gioacchini slated for right winger. Two of them, you can argue are center forwards. So that could be another position where we're lacking some depth. But we think Matthew Hoppe with his movement, with his repeated sprint, we'll be able to execute the role that we're talking about pretty well.
At center back, we're thin. When you look at the options at centerback that we ended up choosing, Donovan Pines and James Sands have very little international experience. We have two solid starters in Miles and Walker, and behind that it is pretty thin. And this is where we talk about using this tournament to develop a greater player pool to prepare for World Cup qualifying. If we can give guys like James Sands and Donovan Pines international experience as we move into qualifying, they're potential options. So, from a centerback standpoint, I think there is some lack of depth, at least in international experience.
Araujo not willing to commit
In terms of Julian, it's a case of him being a dual national and not fully ready to commit to the team. And he knows that the Gold Cup would lock him in permanently and he wasn't ready to make that step. I don't want to speak for him, but I can imagine when he looks at the depth of the right back position, he sees a logjam there and he doesn't maybe fully see his pathway to being a starter in the next World Cup. What I can tell you is we really value Julian and we think he's an outstanding player and we think he can make a run at being a starter on this team. And a lot of it's going to be up to his form and his development. But he's a young player, a talented player, and we think that he does have a future with this team.
Gianluca Busio’s emergence
Again, to me, it's about moments, right, timing, and. He's been playing so well that this is just a natural time for him to make this step. He is still a young player but that doesn't matter. We have a lot of young players in the program. Look at Gio in the Nation's League, what he did at the same age, same year of birth. So we think this is a moment for him. I'm just really anxious to see how he can perform with our group, because I think he's a really talented player, really calm player for his age. I think he can make a big impact with us.
Vines & Bello in left back competition
George has good competition. Sam Vines is a good player as well. And I think it's going to be really interesting to see how those two compete for starting position.
Caden Clark omission
In terms of Caden, it's just really unfortunate, the timing of the appendectomy. He was a guy who I was really looking forward to working with. He's a really good player, really good spatial awareness, a really good balance with turning between the lines, really good vision for the final passing, the ability to score a goal. It's it's really unfortunate how things work out sometimes. But we know that this kid has a bright future and we're going to continue to do so to monitor him when he goes to Leipzig
Daryl Dike’s opportunity
It's been incredible how he's developed. I remember watching him against UNC when he was at Virginia and then seeing really strong player, physical player, but rough player, and he's developed really nicely over this last year, worked himself into a team. Put himself in the equation to be a starter on this team when everyone's around. To me, it's been a really strong, strong year for him. Now we're looking forward to getting him into camp again and seeing what he can do at this level of competitive games. I think that's the key. We had a wake up call when we got to Nations League for the guys to see the level of competition in CONCACAF when there's a prize on the line. And it will be very similar in the Gold Cup.
The midfield versatility
I love it. I think there's a lot of versatility. And you can also throw Eryk Williamson down there. He played a couple of games as the No. 6 for Portland when Chara was out and did a good job. I think it's great.
I mean, if you could imagine a midfield that can move around and shift around and not stay in one position then at one time one guy play the attacking role and the other guy to play the six. So I'd really like the midfield. I think that could be the strength of this group and we'll see. In theory, it's great. We'll see how it works in practice though.