What went wrong for USMNT in first friendly match?

Folarin Balogun, USMNT
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the United States Men’s National Team was embarrassed on home turf in the nation’s capital. They were handed a 5-1 loss at the hands of the Colombian Men’s National Team who just extended their unbeaten streak to 22 matches, which is the longest in the world right now. There were a multitude of things that went wrong that have many fans rightfully questioning Gregg Berhalter about what happened.

Player Selection was a problem

Soccer: International Friendly Soccer-Colombia at USA
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

There were some different selections for this match than the squad that won the CONCACAF Nations League against Mexico in the iconic ‘dos a cero’ way. Johnny Cardoso, who has had a brilliant season for Real Betis, got the start in the midfield over players like Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah. It is to be noted that Adams is coming off a season that was horrifically hampered by injuries that only led him to be able to appear in only four matches. Adams is certainly not fit at the moment to start, and Cardoso being in good form led him to get the start. That wasn’t the huge concern though as Cardoso played quite well in the loss yesterday, it was more of the positioning of the players on the field.

Where the guys were playing…

It was a surprise to most USMNT fans out there when they saw some of the spots some of the guys were playing. There were many times at points when Gio Reyna was receiving the ball as the deepest midfielder of the three and Weston McKennie playing as the most progressive. It did not work for Berhalter, as the Colombian press was in pursuit, and with Reyna not having much experience in that role as the deep-lying playmaker.

It was also strange to see at some times how advanced Joe Scally was getting as the right back. It was like Berhalter had not changed his tactics at all and just told Scally to go play the role of Sergino Dest. There aren’t many right-backs in the world who have the technicality and offensive prowess on the ball that Dest has even if he lacks a little bit defensively. Telling Scally to go out there and play that same role is setting him up for failure and disappointment, although he played really well considering the circumstances and faired well against Liverpool winger Luis Diaz.

Bright Spots for the USMNT in their first friendly

Soccer: International Friendly Soccer-Colombia at USA
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

There were some bright spots, albeit not many in the loss yesterday night. Folarin Balogun was one of them. He made good runs, had a brilliant assist in good link-up play with Tim Weah, had a couple of nice flicks and just overall looked like the striker that the USMNT knew they were getting when he committed to them over England. Another one was Chris Richards who looked like a rock at the back even though the team conceded five goals. There were some mistakes from some other defensemen that made it seem like it was an overall bad defensive performance, but Richards was stellar at the back.

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