Many soccer fans in the United States want Jürgen Klopp to replace Gregg Berhalter as head coach. They see this potential move as a way to galvanize the United States to go from an otherwise boring and lackluster team to a side with an identity. He did that at Liverpool, as the Reds finished in the top three clubs in goal-scoring in each of Klopp’s full seasons at Anfield. His method of achieving that feat can translate well to the USMNT, which may have the squad to suit his noted playing style.

At Borussia Dortmund, the German tactician paved the way with Gegenpressing, an aggressive form of defending where a team slams the opposition in their half. In other words, as soon as Dortmund or Liverpool would lose the ball, Klopp’s tactics would heavily press the opposition in the opposition’s half. Fast and physical players like Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were equally important to the defense as they were their attack. In Klopp’s words, the philosophy is that it makes the opponent instantly vulnerable. They fail to get players behind the ball, and their defense is more open to attack.

The United States men’s national team has the potential to use much of the same tactics that Klopp used at Liverpool. Some of Gregg Berhalter’s tactics with the USMNT wanted to press like Klopp. In an ideal world under Berhalter, that would have made the USMNT a force. However, Berhalter has always been someone to lean on the side of defense. Perhaps it is the fear of making a mistake, but Berhalter has prioritized defensive stability and possession while the athleticism of the United States does not suit this style.

Klopp would not be afraid to take risks with the USMNT. He certainly was not with Liverpool, and it paid major dividends. The immediate concern is if the USMNT has the players that can work under Klopp’s system. In many ways, that answer is yes.

How the USMNT adapts to Klopp’s system

At Liverpool, it would be relatively easy for Liverpool to go out and buy a player that fits Klopp’s eye. It did so with Luis Diaz when Sadio Mane left for Bayern Munich. Moreover, in the midfield, Fabinho’s ability to tackle and stop any attacks before they reached the Liverpool defense was pivotal. There are many similarities between the teams that won the lot with Liverpool and the current crop of USMNT players. Albeit this is without the same top-tier talent.

A front three of Salah-Firmino-Mane dominated Europe and the Premier League. That trifecta had a willingness to run and press at any opportunity, which is vital to Klopp. For the USMNT, Christian Pulisic is, like Mohamed Salah, the side’s best player. While he is offensively gifted, Pulisic’s tenacity can work wonders in Klopp’s system. Upon winning the ball back, Pulisic is direct. He does not squander the opportunity for an attack by looking to pass the ball to his defense or midfield. His 131 progressive carries in Serie A last season ranked fourth in the league.

The challenge will be filling the other three sides of that triumvirate. Roberto Firmino had the uncanny ability to defend in Klopp’s system, a trait that modern strikers often lack. Klopp often called Firmino one of the most important players he had at his disposal despite Mane and Salah earning the plaudits. The knack for pressing, off-ball running and his role as a connector, as Klopp put it, were far more important than his goal output.

The USMNT will struggle to find a player who is so willing to defend. Although there are several options, Balogun could remain the option. Sometimes missing the scoring touch, Balogun has thrived in off-ball movement. He can get into the scoring chances, even if they do not succeed every time.

On the final side of the front three, Tim Weah is a natural fit. He spent time as a wing-back in his first season at Juventus, so defense is not an issue. He can fit the Gegenpressing narrative that Klopp preaches.

Allowing the defense to maraud forward

While the front three has been crucial, it is not alone in Klopp’s success. Liverpool sprayed balls into the box to create opportunities via the sensational play from Andry Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. This is another area where Klopp can easily shift to the United States. Antonee Robinson and Sergiño Dest are two of the USMNT’s standout players. Like Robertson and Alexander-Arnold, Robinson and Dest are often subject to defensive miscues as they focus on going forward. However, for Klopp’s purposes, it is sensible.

For each of the past five seasons, Liverpool has either been first or second in total crosses in the Premier League. It led that category in a three-season stretch before this most recent campaign. Much of that comes from Alexander-Arnold and Robertson. The full-back duo have each featured in the top ten crosses in Premier League play for three of the last four seasons.

Robinson did not have the same quantity of crosses as those two, as he is more known as a one-on-one defender. Still, 132 crosses for Fulham is a strong statistic. He has shown a willingness to press forward in the attack in the same way Robertson has done for Liverpool.

On the right, Dest and Alexander-Arnold both look more like midfielders or wingers than they do defenders. For Alexander-Arnold, that stems from an otherworldly passing ability. Dest relies more on individual flair, a trait that Klopp has not overly thrived on. Regardless, Dest is crucial to the USMNT attack, and Klopp could make necessary changes to his squad to incorporate Dest.

Incomplete USMNT squad that still carries potential with Klopp tactics

There are inherent inefficacies in the USMNT squad if Klopp were to take over. An uneasy defense is apparent, particularly compared to a player like Virgil van Dijk who was a wall in Klopp’s side. Some of the USMNT players may not be as willing to press in the opponent’s half. Additionally, Klopp will not have the same time that he had at club level to install his tactics with the USMNT.

However, if there is one thing to learn, it is that the idea of pressing and being aggressive across the pitch works. Marcelo Bielsa is having success with Uruguay with his tactics, which are similar to Klopp, that unseated the USMNT. By comparison, Berhalter’s propensity to possess the ball backfired with a defense that struggled to make effective passes. Klopp can change their fortunes around with the group of players that would be at his disposal for the 2026 World Cup.

Last but not least, perhaps Klopp’s greatest strength is man management. The players respect him and work tirelessly to accomplish his goals. Sometimes that means making tough decisions, but the players respect that. With Berhalter, there were many too incidents where players acted out in games which ultimately hurt the entire team. Klopp won’t tolerate that in his squad. Instead, he’ll garner more from his squad.