Gregg Berhalter is back. As the saying goes, there is nothing new under the Sun. From October of 2017 to December of 2018, US Soccer swore up and down it was conducting a real coaching search. They hired Gregg Berhalter, brother of US Soccer’s Jay Berhalter. Now, this year, new Sporting Director Matt Crocker swore up and down that he conducted a real coaching search. He re-hired Gregg Berhalter.
And as was the case for the bulk of Berhalter’s first go-round as US manager, his first games in charge now are games at home against weak opponents. The first of these two easy friendlies is against Uzbekistan.
The most notable thing about this US roster is not who’s there but who isn’t there. That is right. Gregg Berhalter is back and Gio Reyna is not. In an interview he gave to Vanity Fair, Berhalter once again bragged about how he hasn’t talked to Reyna since the World Cup (though he somehow found time to talk to a non-soccer publication…about Reyna).
Of those that are there perhaps the most surprising is Ricardo Pepi who was left off the World Cup roster, and who admitted to just hanging up on Berhalter when he was told he wasn’t going to Qatar (where the US struggled mightily to score goals).
Pepi aside, there are very few surprises on this roster. Matt Turner and Ethan Horvath are in goal. The backline features the usual suspects of Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, Miles Robinson, and Sergiño Dest. The midfield sees the return of Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, and Luca del la Torre. The forwards are Christian Pulisic, Brendan Aaronson, Tim Weah and recent US commit Folarin Balogun.
USMNT feeling Messi effect
The biggest story in American soccer is, without a doubt, Lionel Messi with Inter Miami. They have been an almost unstoppable force both on the field (11 games without a loss) and off it. And while Messi has been the showstopper, his teammates have also benefitted from his presence.
Goalkeeper Drake Callendar earned his first national team call-up off the back of Inter Miami’s newfound success, having kept three clean sheets and only given up a single goal in an additional five games since Messi’s arrival. Also earning a call-up based on Miami’s success is midfielder Benjamin Cremaschi. The 18-year-old has not lit up the stat sheet (just one goal, plus converting two penalties in Leagues Cup shootouts) but is a dual national, having represented Argentina at the U20 level.
Uzbekistan preview for Berhalter and the USMNT
There is not too much to say about Uzbekistan for this game. They have never qualified for a World Cup (though they have only been their own federation since 1994 following the collapse of the Soviet Union). Uzbekistan has never done better than a fourth-place finish at the Asian Cup (in 2011). They are ranked 74th in the world (which admittedly, is higher than some of the CONCACAF teams Gregg Berhalter has coached against). None of their players play anywhere that any American soccer fan has ever heard of. Only their coach, Srecko Katanec, is fairly well-traveled having managed the Slovenian national team in two different cycles, as well as managing Greek super-club Olympiacos in 2002.
As part of a frustrating, and possibly intentional, trend the USMNT is playing this game in a stadium they just played in two months (and four games) ago. Against Uzbekistan, the US will be playing at CityPark in St. Louis where they played against St. Kitts & Nevis as part of the Gold Cup on June 28. This comes after the US played games at Busch Stadium in St. Louis in November of 2015 and September of 2019.
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Kickoff for the game against Uzbekistan is set for a 4:30 p.m. CT kickoff on Saturday, Sep. 9, 2023. The game will air on TNT in English and on Telemundo, NBC Universo and Peacock in Spanish.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Agencia-MexSport
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