New USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter says he plans to build an 'attacking-based team'
U.S. Soccer introduced Gregg Berhalter as its USMNT coach; his first game will be Jan. 27 against Panama
U.S. Soccer officially introduced Gregg Berhalter as its men's national team coach in a press conference in New York City on Tuesday. The 45-year-old starts right away with the January team camp not too far off. Here's what to know about his introduction, what his initial plan is with the senior team and more:
When is his first game?
U.S. Soccer announced that Berhalter's first games in charge will be friendlies against Panama in Glendale, Arizona on Jan. 27 and against Costa Rica in San Jose, Calif. on Feb. 2, which can be streamed on fuboTV (Try for free).
What's his initial plan?
"My first priority is immediately reaching out to players and getting to know them," Berhalter said.
Berhalter said he'll meet with domestic-based players this week, and plans to attend MLS Cup 2018 in Atlanta on Saturday before traveling to Europe to visit with players based there. He didn't mention names, but it's likely he'll spend a few days in Germany to see Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, John Brooks, Bobby Wood and others.
"When I think about this sport, I'm humbled," Berhalter said. "I think about the support I've gotten from virtually everyone around Major League Soccer, everyone around the United States.
"We are in this together."
What kind of squad could we see?
Berhalter is big on team cohesion. He said he wants a team, not a group of men. He wants the team to be close, to bond and to give them confidence.
"As with any team, it's a process. Now, I don't want to use that as an excuse," Berhalter said. "The process has to accelerate. When you have quality players … you can accelerate that process."
Berhalter hinted that his plan will be using the young rising stars and mixing back in veterans, which could mean guys like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, though he didn't mention specific names.
What will the style of play be?
"The idea is that we are an attacking-based team," Berhalter said.
He said he wants his team to create opportunities, build up out of the back, apply pressure when needed and more. His Columbus Crew had been playing in a 4-2-3-1 and a 3-4-3 formation at times, especially last season.
"The idea is, it's a fluid style, the players are intent on breaking lines, playing through the opponent and creating goal-scoring opportunities," Berhalter said.
What defines success?
Short term, for Berhalter, it's progression. He said he wants to see progression as a team every time the team gets together.
General manager Earnie Stewart, who recommended Berhalter for the job, said the long-term goals boil down to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup and doing well in Qatar.
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