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Berhalter admits USMNT has a lot to improve after friendly win

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Berhalter admits USMNT has a lot to improve after friendly win

ST. LOUIS – Gregg Berhalter praised his U.S. men’s national team’s mindset in the final 10 minutes of the 3-0 win over Uzbekistan, but admitted there was still plenty of room for improvement. improvement after his first game as head coach.

The United States took the lead in the fourth minute thanks to Tim Weah’s goal, but then worked hard for much of the match as Uzbekistan’s five-man defense proved difficult to break down.

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It took a goal in the first minute of stoppage time from substitute Ricardo Pepi to secure the match, before Christian Pulisic scored from the penalty spot four minutes later to complete the score. The two late goals came as Uzbekistan were reduced to 10 men after Khojiakbar Alidzhanov was forced out of the match through injury and the visitors had no substitutes.

“I think we use this game as a learning tool,” Berhalter said. “We can improve and we must improve and we will.”

“I really, really liked the mood in the last 10 minutes of the match,” he added. “You could see the guys still wanted to attack. It wasn’t about keeping the 1-0. It was about being aggressive. As they moved to four, we had more space and I I liked that the guys wanted to attack him.

“I think it’s a good base to start with and say what the international competition from other regions looks like and that we’ll use as we go along.”

The United States had to work hard to achieve victory. Alijonov and Eldor Shomurodov had clear chances to tie Uzbekistan, but both were undone by a combination of wayward finishing as well as stellar goalkeeping from Matt Turner.

Berhalter said he implemented a tactical strategy to try to get Uzbekistan out of their low block, but his team didn’t play fast enough once the first line of pressure was broken.

“We gave the ball away in difficult moments. That was the first thing,” he said. “The second thing is when we were building, we were methodical in our build trying to draw the opponent in. I thought we then lacked the acceleration of the attack once we got through that front five and it could have been better.

“It’s always difficult to break down a five-man defense. You saw they were coming down and we wanted to follow them. We didn’t do that often enough.

“And then the other thing I would like to note is that our press after [losing possession], defensive transition, needs to improve. I think we gave them too many chances to get behind us when we could have been in a better position to get the ball back immediately after losing it.”

Berhalter added that he didn’t mind his team playing at a slower pace as long as it was accompanied by a change of pace.

“If we were to take our time deploying their defense, and then find someone once we get past their top five, then we’ll have to speed up the offense,” he said. “We need numbers to go forward, we need numbers to get into the penalty area, we need runs behind the backline and I thought that was what we were lacking at times.”

Saturday’s match was Berhalter’s first since last December’s World Cup in Qatar. Shortly after the tournament, a public feud with midfielder Gio Reyna’s family resulted in the revelation of a 1992 domestic violence incident involving Berhalter and his now-wife Rosalind. An investigation by an outside law firm largely exonerated Berhalter, allowing him to still be a candidate for USMNT leadership. He re-signed with US Soccer in June.

Berhalter said he only took a brief moment to reflect on everything that had happened over the past nine months.

“As the anthem plays, you kind of think about the fact that you’re back,” he said. “And then it’s back to work, and you’re on the sidelines and you’re practicing, trying to help the team win a match. “

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