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US look to extend winning run in Chile friendly

Houston (AFP) – United States coach Gregg Berhalter will be looking to make it four victories out of four on Tuesday as his team takes on South American champions Chile in a friendly international in Houston.

Berhalter has enjoyed a perfect start since taking over as the full-time US coach in December last year, notching three wins out of three.

The most recent of those victories came last Thursday, when the USA defeated Ecuador with a late Gyasi Zardes strike in Orlando.

However the Americans are expecting a tougher challenge on Tuesday at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium against a Chilean side still smarting from a 3-1 defeat to Mexico on Friday.

Veteran midfielder Michael Bradley said he expected Chile to pose a greater physical threat than Ecuador.

“They’re a very good team, with a lot of good players,” Bradley said. 

“They’ve been together for a long time and have had a lot of success together. They’re going to be aggressive and are going to press us.”

Berhalter is also expecting Chile to ask more questions of his team.

“It’s going to be a physical challenge, they’re going to be pressing us, it’s going to be high energy,” Berhalter said.

“For us, it’s about coming to terms with that and dealing with it.”

Berhalter has indicated he expects to make several changes to his starting line-up for Tuesday’s game in Texas.

Among the absentees are Bundesliga-based players Weston McKennie, who was injured in the win over Ecuador, and Tyler Adams who has been released back to RB Leipzig following a prior agreement with the club.

Bradley meanwhile said the game represents another opportunity for the squad to test out aspects of Berhalter’s training ground philosophy as the team builds towards this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“It’s another experience for the group,” Bradley said. “It’s another 90 minutes to work on things, to get a feel for each other and to work on things that we’ve worked on in training.”

Chile meanwhile will head into the game still struggling to recapture the sort of form which helped them capture the 2015 and 2016 Copa America titles.

The Chileans failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and have endured mixed form since Colombia’s Reinaldo Rueda took over as coach last year, winning four games, losing four games and drawing three.

Rueda said his team had been rusty in the defeat to Mexico last week.

“It had been four months since we last played and it was not easy,” Rueda said. “But defeat is when you learn the most.”

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