Gregg Berhalter puts USMNT as Nations League favorites: Forced to win third title


U.S. National Team coach Gregg Berhalter believes the only valid goal for their CONCACAF Nations League campaign is to go for a third consecutive title and to back up his statement, calling up his best available team to compete in the final round of the tournament, which begins this Thursday against Jamaica.

“It puts us on higher alert,” he said of Jamaica’s injury issues. “We’re not taking this team lightly and now with guys missing it’s even more serious.

Pulisic gets torched by USMNT teammates playing American footballParker Johnson

“The guys that are going to get their opportunity tomorrow night, they’re going to be giving everything to show this coach they want to be part of the squad for Copa Amrica. So it’s a dangerous game for us and we’re going to be really focused on trying to play a good game and getting to the final.”

He also noted that Jamaica will be missing several key players due to injury on Thursday, including West Ham striker Michail Antonio, Aston Villa midfielder Leon Bailey and forward Trivante Stewart of Serbia’s Javor, all of whom are out of the Caribbean squad for the weekend.

“We went through their roster today and were asking our players what they know personally about the Jamaican players, because a lot of them play with these players in England,” Berhalter said. They’re well known to our player pool. We think that the quality they have is still good.

“They might be missing their top talent but they still have enough to be a very competitive team. And we know in these events in CONCACAF, when teams play each other, they’re very difficult games. We expect the same thing.”

A team built for big things

For their part, the USMNT will field the best they have for Thursday’s match at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Including their stars.

Tyler Adams, their captain at the World Cup in Qatar, who has spent almost 11 months out of action due to injury, will feature, as will Christian Pulisic, who has had a great season with AC Milan, and Weston McKennie of Juventus.

Milan and USMNT star Pulisic added: “This is a good team that combines youth and experience. Of course we want to beat Jamaica, reach the final and win it for the third time. But first we have to think about doing our job well starting this Thursday.

“I don’t think about that too much, just going out to play, having fun and winning. I always enjoy playing in a full stadium anywhere. Our fanbase has improved a lot in quantity and quality. Our job is to go out and turn that energy into a positive for us.”

For his part, McKennie has assured that this version of the U.S. team is the best he has seen since he was first called up to the national team, which is why they need to back up the favorites tag.

But he also believes that they need to perform on the global stage, and not just win in CONCACAF: “We’ve played a lot of knockout games and tournaments,” said the midfielder. “It’s just about getting another trophy and thinking about the bright future we can have.”

In the final round, CONCACAF has scheduled the semifinals (Final Four), the match for third place and the Final within this international window. The USMNT will face Jamaica, while Mexico will play Panama tonight, while the final matches, both the third place and the Final, will be played on Sunday.

There are also two playoff matches between Canada vs. Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica vs. Honduras on Saturday.



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