USMNT Hints At Major Flaws Despite Holding Off Uruguay


The USMNT saw much positivity on the surface, as they scored three and conceded none.

The young USMNT kept two clean sheets using two different goalkeepers behind two different pressing schemes. It created chances in two different attacking shapes against Morocco and Uruguay, two of the sturdiest defensive platoons on their respective continents.

The USMNT claimed 2 results that would be sufficient to go through the WC groups and this alone would fuel optimism for months that are to come.

The results were however deceiving.

The USMNT Showed Major Flaws

Gregg Berhalter, the team’s head coach, knows this and hinted at it after a 3-0 win over Morocco and a 0-0 draw with Uruguay. He spoke about the vulnerability on Wednesday and danced around some questions without doling out his customary praise on Sunday. 

He likely knows that his team’s Expected Goal differential across those 180 minutes was, according to most models, negative. He knows that, amid all the promise that his players wield, they are an incomplete unit that hasn’t yet learned to paper over its cracks, which were evident as World Cup prep kicked into gear.

There are, of course, also reasons for optimism. The bubbliest of the many is a 19-year-old who’s been stuck in a suboptimal position at his club, but whose potential the USMNT is beginning to unlock.

The worry, however, is that deficiencies at both ends of the field could mask promise in Qatar come November.

Sunday’s tussle with Uruguay offered no solutions to the USMNT’s two most nagging dilemmas. Neither of its strikers, Jesus Ferreira nor Haji Wright, looked capable of leading a line under Uruguayan pressure. Both of its left-sided center backs, Aaron Long and Erik Palmer-Brown, looked shaky.

They weren’t punished by Uruguay’s B-plus team, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be in five-and-a-half months.

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