I asked everyone to give Gregg Berhalter some slack. It lasted all but 1 game, Gregg Berhalter tried to get cute and fielded a starting XI with 7 changes from the USMNT victory over Jamaica, relying on players, mostly from MLS, to get something out of Panama. What the USMNT produced was one of the worst performances in recent memory.
How bad is Panama? Well, they could only score 1 on a flat, lifeless USMNT that did little in the way of attack and offered nothing in the way of a cohesive soccer team. Berhalter has preached depth in the past and put that depth to the test but the drop off in level and performance was eye raising.
While the USMNT will have another crack at it at home against Costa Rica and will most likely field a team similar to the one that got three points against Jamaica, the U.S. put themselves against the wall when they didn’t have to. Here are three takeaways from a woeful defeat against Panama.
Where 's the depth?
Clearly the depth on the USMNT is when Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic go down players like Brenden Aaronson step in to fill the void. After that the drop off is significant, if there is one position the USMNT has little to no depth on is at forward, sitting Pepi, given his form was a huge blunder. You can rotate players and manage minutes all you want when the game is in the bag. Fielding your best players to get the best result should be basics, even under the circumstances. Seven changes for a team whose “depth” is highly questionable was too much and a mismatched performance for players who never have played together in that set up was expected. A loss nearly a given.
Those on the field didn’t step up
Gregg Berhalter tried to give players who usually ride the bench a chance to showcase their talents, and credit him for giving the whole squad a chance to participate in clutch games. The players who have often saved him failed him, Kellyn Acosta and Gyasi Zardes turned in stinkers, while the European pack of Tim Weah and Yunus Musah showed their inexperience to carry the team. The four players mentioned above work as role players, throw them in the spotlight and things change very quickly. Nonetheless, the names put out against Panama should have produced better.
Walker Zimmerman a solid solution going forward
The lone bright spot for the USMNT was Walker Zimmerman, who used his chance to showcase he can be a good utility player for Berhalter. At this point that is what a lineup that Berhalter put out yesterday can bring to the table, to find out who can step up when the A listers are out. Zimmerman proved that there is quality in the squad, but Berhalter took an unnecessary gamble to prove that he had depth and rotation 3 or 5 players deep, it backfired.