In two WCQ matches we have 1 goal and 2 points. We haven't yet played Mexico, Costa Rica or Jamaica and got Canada at home. I'm annoyed but not surprised, and that's more annoying.
Here's my random ranting on why Gregg Berhalter is so damn hard to defend, even when it may not all be his fault.
!. That hiring process. Still weird. Still incomplete. We've moved on, but it really didn't do anyone: Gregg, USSF, fans, any favors for setting the tone.
2. Gregg not taking advantage of the time to explore the pool and tactics when the games didn't matter. Sarachan was...fine, but his tenure lasted too long. It's embarrassing that the Federation was fine waiting for a coach with the cv of Gregg Berhalter to finish coaching the Columbus Crew in MLS. Once again: no favors done.
3. Gregg called in 26 players to this camp. In a window where there was no limit on camp rosters and we'd be playing 3 matches in 7 days. He called in 26 guys. AFTER living through a Gold Cup when he was the dangers of poor roster construction. He lost Weah before camp started and didn't replace him. More on this later.
4. He's not great at mid-match adjustments. Or maybe he's not willing to make them? Idk. Either way, it's frustrating.
5. He's also not great at subs. He often makes baffling choices and consistently waits to bring guys on. The few times he's been willing to make personnel changes lately it's gone well. The Gold Cup showed us that. Then he reverted back to form.
6. This one is weird: The call ups. WHAT IS HE SEEING?! Gregg routinely calls in players that aren't particularly good in their league (MLS) and don't play particularly well for the NT while being of limited physical ability and talent. I have no problem giving a guy multiple shots to prove himself, but there's no consistency.
Jackson Yuiell is the most deserving punching bag. He sucks. Consistently. There's nothing he offers we can't get in a better package. It was weird before. Now that Gregg has banished McKennie and called in Yuiell when DLT and Green are still uncalled, it's crossed over into creepy.
Lletget is an average to good MF in an average league. He's not terrible but he's also often not put in the best positions to maximize what he does bring. The weird false 9 match comes to mind. Cue Ryan Reynolds "But Why" meme here.
Gregg claims to want to play a certain way but ignores players that can facilitate that. Green and DLT play in decent leagues and routinely perform well while being functional in multiple positions. I won't continue to speculate why but it surely can't look right to other players in the pull. Sports is supposed to be a meritocracy but the NT doesn't seem that way. That can't make it easy for players to fully buy in.
7. What is Gregg's criteria for call ins? He called in Lewis who was a sub for an MLS team after being terrible in Olympic Qualifying. He called in Tim Ream last year who was on the bench for Fulham. Now he's playing again. Great. But now he's not calling in Richards, who's on the bench for Bayern. Now, the argument for letting players settle at clubs is one in his favor, but it shouldn't take precedent over the team winning. Nor does it explain DLT or Green's absence. It's certainly not about how well they play on the pitch. Is it pt? Is it form? Is it how well they compliment his shoes?
8. He builds the roster for one thing, then does another. Call in a lot of CBs for a back 3? Nope back 4. In fact, let's play our RB on the left when we don't need to. Our two LBs can wait on the bench. Play our winger in the mf, play our mf on the wing. Pulisic is out and I'm down Weah. Call in a winger? Nope, what for?
9. The players don't seem to know what they're doing. It's not clear where the goals are supposed to come from. He talks about his system but we don't score much. Especially in competitive matches, particularly from open play. All goals count the same, kinda, but it's odd to have as much attacking talent as we do and yet few clear chances created. In fact, that was what got him fired from the 2nd division in Sweden...
Look, the players have a role in this. Dest shouldn't be losing the ball trying to take on 3 players in El Salvador. Sargent needs to crash the box harder. McKennie needs to follow protocol. But: Dest should be on the right, Sargent should have more regular service from the midfield (Gio also needs to pass to the open man) and McKennie should be punished but not at risk of losing the match, especially when people are already questioning just how Gregg determines value.
I honestly could go on and this has gone long enough already. Everything isn't Gregg's fault, it's just hard to tell where the blame should end. Yes we won 2 cups. No, we were never the best team in the region. We defended well and our talent took us through. A little luck too. Gregg didn't see something in Horvath to insert him to save Guardado's penalty. Steffen got hurt. Pulisic went from anonymous in the final because Gregg couldn't scheme him into dangerous areas, to a legend because he earned a penalty and buried it. MeKennie channeled his inner Ronaldo with a dominance on in the air when we needed it most. Mexico didn't feel like finishing at all in the Gold Cup. We only scored multiple goals against Martinique.
This isn't going well. What's worse is that it will have to get much worse for the USSF to fire him and then it might be too late. It's not that I want the guy to fail, but it's literally impossible to defend him within reason. We're wasting an opportunity and we're wasting talent. There were better options that Berhalter from the beginning (Martino, Pareja) and he's done nothing to convince he was the right choice regardless. I'd say I was preparing myself to be disappointed again, but that'd be a lie. I'm already used to it.