The United States will qualify for the World Cup
This is not the nightmare of the previous qualifying cycle. On the one hand, the challenges are more or less exactly the opposite. Next: Recourse to a core of declining dyspeptic veterans under the guidance of an experienced lifesaving coach with a shallow talent pool. Now: A young tactician’s plentiful experimentation with time to sort out a wide range of improving and perky newcomers.
The trip somewhere in Canada – Toronto? Vancouver? Nunavut? – January 30 is looming, but this team shows that it can accumulate points on the road (but with a slice of fortune against Jamaica on Tuesday) and win at home.
More than halfway through the Octogonale, only two points separate the four first nations, with an undefeated Canada in the lead, one point ahead of the United States in second position. There is no rational basis for thinking that the Americans will not finish in the top three and automatically reach Qatar, when the idea that this group of players could miss the top four is absurd. USMNT isn’t great, at least not yet, but they’re pretty good and going in the right direction.
The jury still on Berhalter
How good is the head coach, however? With Gregg Berhalter still arranging the pieces of the 43-game puzzle in the work, watching the United States is like the moment in Tetris where the game speeds up and the screen becomes scrambled with blocks. Do you end up with a cohesive and logical fit, or a colorful mess?
Berhalter has an impressive track record (30 wins) but continues to look like a man overseeing a long and involved internship program. After all, he’s offered his qualifying debut for 26 players since September. Oddly enough, and worrisome limit, in eight qualifying matches, his team only scored twice in the first 45 minutes but 10 times in the second half. In total this year, the United States have scored 16 goals in the first period and 29 thereafter. Berhalter’s in-game adjustments seem to be more effective than his pre-game preparations – he’s a man with a plan, as long as it’s plan B.
The best example was the trip to Honduras in September, when roster and training were misjudged and the team lost a goal at the break before a turnaround inspired by rookie Ricardo Pepi led to a 4-1 victory. The cohesion and confidence in the excellent second half against Mexico last week after the United States was dominated by the United States was also noteworthy. Against Jamaica the United States started well and took the lead, only to be disturbed – for the rest of the night it happened – by The breathtaking equalizer of Michail Antonio.
Weston McKennie is essential
This was confirmed by his presence against Mexico and his absence against Jamaica. The United States was their age after the equalizer in Kingston – the starting XI averaged 22 341 days, second youngest in the history of qualifying for the UMSNT World Cup, according to US Soccer. McKennie, who scored in the 2-0 win over Mexico, missed Tuesday’s game with a suspension.
Without the 23-year-old, the midfielder exuded energy but lacked authority. The rough pitch didn’t help, but it’s hard to believe the United States would have been so physically dominated or looked so harassed in possession if the Juventus man had been available and played instead of the invisible Gianluca Busio.
Meanwhile, with continued uncertainty over who should be the first-choice goalie, a solid pair of performances from Walker Zimmerman is a boost to the team’s central defensive depth.
Canada is a legitimate contender to win the group
John Herdman’s side are the only undefeated team in the Octagonal Winter Olymp… sorry, the World Cup qualifiers and 2-1 win over Mexico at the “Iceteca” in Edmonton delivered some iconic footage : players celebrating by jumping in the accumulated snow, and local hero Alphonso Davies running across the pitch waving a flag after the final whistle (well dressed in a puffer jacket).
The home advantage is to have a game in temperatures around -9C (16F) on artificial turf with grid marks. The visitors, edgy by their 2-0 loss to the United States in Cincinnati last Friday, seemed duly uncomfortable from the start as Canada edged them out in a heated clash, led by Atiba Hutchinson, 38 , who broke the CanMNT selection record with his 90th appearance.
It was Canada’s first World Cup qualifying victory over Mexico since 1976, and they have a seven-point advantage over Costa Rica in fifth place as they aim to reach their first final since 1986. And, like the United States, this Canadian team have a lot of excellent young players, led by Davies, a sign that they will still be a force at Concacaf for quite some time. North America now has a real three-way rivalry.
The original arbitration is one of Concacaf’s quirks, but the governing body is would have introduction of VAR for remaining octagonal games – added mid-campaign system, such as UEFA. It sounded like an aberration that Concacaf used VAR in the Nations League and Gold Cup, but not in their key competition, and Berhalter called the lack of an “error” in September.
He probably wasn’t too upset on Tuesday, given the questionable 84th-minute foul against Damion Lowe that potentially cost Jamaica a win. Considering the number of brutal challenges that go unpunished or insufficiently punished in Concacaf matches, Tuesday’s matches were no exception, red cards as well as disallowed goals could have an impact on which teams reach Qatar on the move. next year.