USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter addressed the media in a conference call on Tuesday morning to talk about the March camp that begins on Sunday, March 17. Berhalter referred to this camp as step two in the process of finding the right mix of players for the 2022 World Cup. The invitees will play four days later (March 21) against Ecuador in Orlando before heading to BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas for a March 26th match against Chile. This camp will be working on themes that began in the January camp.
“Our goal is to keep making progress. Building on the themes of last camp, building on the style of play of last camp, but also now evaluating a new group of players,” Berhalter said. “We made progress in the first camp and it’s now seeing if we can take it to another level. When we are done with this camp, it’s important that we have a good idea of our strongest group of players heading into the Gold Cup.”
The most commonly posed question to the coach was about players, particularly young players who did not get the call. It was refreshing to note that Berhalter is looking forward to 2022 and what will help those left off this roster be ready for that moment.
“When we looked players that were U-23 eligible and weren’t necessarily going to be in our starting group, we had to weigh, is it more beneficial for them to try to play full international at level where they can gain confidence and potentially bring that back to their club, and then get a boost in performance with their clubs? Just because they are not in this camp does not mean they won’t be in future camps.” Berhalter added.
One of the goals that the newly minted coach is working towards with this camp is discovering the right mix of veterans and young players. Looking down the road, he acknowledged that it is a good possibility that there may well be two or three guys on the 2022 roster that are in their mid-30’s. Former Dynamo Geoff Cameron could be one of those players. Presently, he has been unable to get on the field since December due to injury and that was one reason he was not invited to this camp. Another is that this camp is providing an opportunity to look at newer players and see what they can do.
DynamoTheory.com had the opportunity to ask Berhalter given the shortness of this camp and the challenges these two international opponents present how will he measure success outside of getting a “W.”
“That’s a good question,” responded Berhalter. “The answer to that is first of all the player’s openness to learn. I think that will be really important. We know it’s not going to be perfect but then how much is that information is absorbed and executed upon. That’s what we are going to be looking for. We know that camp is short but I don’t want to use that as an excuse. I want to see what we can get in in a short period of time and what it will look like. The one thing about international soccer is the need to compete. There’s always the demand to fit in culturally and now from a style of play standpoint, how open are the players with the information they take in. That’s how we will evaluate.”
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals):
DEFENDERS (8): John Brooks (Wolfsburg, GER; 36/3), Omar Gonzalez (Atlas, MEX; 48/3), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 2/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 4/0), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact; 2/0), Matt Miazga (Reading, ENG; 11/1), Tim Ream (Fulham, ENG; 26/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United, ENG; 57/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig, GER; 9/1), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC, CAN; 143/17), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 7/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke, GER; 7/1), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund, GER; 23/9), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 7/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 13/0)
FORWARDS (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 19/3), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 2/0), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC; 2/0), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 25/5), Christian Ramirez (LAFC; 2/1), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 42/6)