Gregg Berhalter (Omar Vega/Getty Images)
Head coach Gregg Berhalter was the focus of intense criticism as the United States men’s national team suffered a 2-0 loss to Japan on Friday in one of its final warm-up matches ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Daichi Kamada and Kaoru Mitoma scored for the Japanese side, as the USMNT struggled mightily to generate any consistent attacking pressure inside the Merkur Spiel-Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany.
The United States’ use of Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman as the center-back tandem in the first half failed to pay dividends, as it could not build out of the back against a high pressure, and Japan continued to control the pace of play throughout a majority of the second 45 minutes.
Here’s a look at some reactions to the performance from social media:
Jeff Rueter @jeffrueter
For better or worse, #USMNT‘s successful qualification largely came down to Gregg Berhalter’s halftime adjustments each match. Today, the adjustment has not let many chances on frame.
Desperately need to start their games in a better way by the time November arrives.
Matty Jollie @MattyJollie
Part of the post game conversation needs to be how Berhalter just simply got outclassed tactically. #USMNT
Nancy Armour @nrarmour
I get USMNT missing key pieces in Musah, Weah and Pulisic. But isn’t that the point of testing out all of the players Berhalter did the last few years? To be able to plug and play? https://t.co/fnV1oMkKjT
Martin Edelman @Marty Edelman14
Hopefully this result serves as a wake-up call for the #USMNT. Shocking performance for some key players and lot of questions for Berhalter too – including how he’s set up the team!
Jon Soltz @jonsoltz
Either Gregg Berhalter needs to call in the best players (not his players) or he needs to resign or be fired before the World Cup. #USMNT
Berhalter has been in charge of this same squad for years. His starting XI hasn’t changed much.
-we still can’t break through a midblock
-we still get burned in transition
-we still operate way too quickly in possession and settle for bad chances
Post-WC, it’s time for a change
Looking Beyond @LookingBeyond2
Berhalter just got outcoached and these players just got humbled. Defense is gonna be a problem at the WC, we struggled to create anything, we couldn’t get our forwards service. This is not just on Berhalter, the players are to blame too. IDK what we need to do, just not ready
The squad fielded by Berhalter on Friday wasn’t the one that’ll likely take the pitch when the USMNT opens the World Cup in November, including star Christian Pulisic being a late scratch from the matchday squad with an injury picked up in training.
That said, it was still an uninspired performance that raises further questions about whether the Americans are trending in a positive direction with just two months until Qatar.
It also brings the continued international absence of central defender John Brooks, who recently made his debut for the Portuguese club Benfica, back into the spotlight as the US works unsuccessfully to find the anchors for its back line.
Berhalter and Co. will get another chance to showcase some semblance of progress Tuesday when they face Saudi Arabia in a friendly at Estadio Nueva Condomina in Murcia, Spain.
Another lackluster outing in the last preparation match before the World Cup would raise serious doubts about the team’s outlook as players return to their clubs next week.