The USMNT had more new questions asked than they could answer in a 2-0 loss to Japan on Friday, with head coach Gregg Berhalter and midfielder Tyler Adams explaining their shortcomings after the game.
[ MORE: What we learned from Japan vs USA | Player ratings ]
Japan proved to be a tough test just 59 days before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and the USMNT had very few, if any, right answers. Mainly, the Yanks’ inability to advance the ball downfield significantly, resulting in just four shots (none on goal).
Clearly, Berhalter and Co. had a lot of explaining to do…
Gregg Berhalter: “I didn’t see much personality tonight”
“It was a very competitive match. I think we ended up hurting ourselves too much in the game with silly gifts. And we want a little more personality in the game. Give a lot of credit to Japan: good team, competitive team, they pressed well, but we can do better.
“For some reason, I didn’t see much personality in that performance tonight.”
We have work to do. Clearly we need to improve, but overall a very good experience for this team.”
On the reason for the fights, and if the pressure on the USMNT is already increasing, via ESPN…
I don’t know if the proximity of the World Cup has anything to do with it, but the guys didn’t look fresh and physically we looked like a step backwards,” Berhalter said. “And then it’s difficult, a team like Japan is going to punish you.
“The adjustment in the second half helped us to have more control of the game, it gave us more passes between the lines. But in the first half, I think it was just lack of comfort on the ball, silly draws.
“We built the opponent up after a decent start, but then he started to snowball and give away some balls and it wasn’t what we imagined.
Tyler Adams: “Today we did not reach our standard… we played into their hands”
On not meeting expectations and performing at an important moment…
“It is definitely a difficult decision to accept. I mean, you come here wanting to treat it like a group stage match at the World Cup, in preparation for the World Cup, and today we didn’t meet our standard.
“We were up against a talented team, but in the end, we felt like we almost played the game for them. We had a bit of frustration. And you could tell that the team was off, a little late on the tackles, late on getting the ball, finding solutions, being dangerous and creating chances like we normally do. It’s a learning experience at the end of the day, and something we have to take on for the next game.”
On the USMNT game plan and why it didn’t work: via ESPN…
“I think some of the CONCACAF teams, you know, the ones from Mexico and Honduras, put pressure on us and we found solutions. We just needed to find solutions earlier. I think we had a game plan and I think it would have been effective if we had stuck to our game plan.
“But, at times, I felt like maybe we started looking for individual solutions instead of sticking together, sticking to the game plan, staying disciplined in our game plan. And you saw Japan, they did well. They had a game plan and it was effective.”
“In the beginning, it was: if the extremes pressed tight, then we were going to find the solutions in the overlap; we would get sergiño [Dest] and Sam [Vines] the ball and find the channel by the line. If they were pushing hard, then me and Weston [McKennie] and Luca [de la Torre] should have found space on the ball.
“We just didn’t find those solutions early on. I think we rushed things and forced them, and that led to a lot of turnovers in dangerous areas.”
On the USMNT facing a quality team from Japan before the World Cup…
“You have to give credit to Japan, they are such a talented team. I’ve played a lot of those guys in the Bundesliga before and they have quality all over the pitch, and they showed it tonight.
“So thanks to his game plan, it worked. But it didn’t seem like we executed our game plan before the game. We can’t just start dithering and doing our own thing and allow individuality to creep into the team. We need to stick together as a team at the end of the day and we didn’t do that.”
USMNT Reaction: Berhalter, Adams explain dismal display against Japan originally appeared on NBCSports.com