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Gregg Berhalter: USMNT Undone By Defensive Issues In Germany Defeat

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Gregg Berhalter, manager of the United States men’s national soccer team, said his team’s 3-1 loss against Germany on Saturday came down to “some fine moments” and that their defense “let us down a bit.”

With a 25-yard wonder goal in the game’s 27th minute, Christian Pulisic gave the Americans the lead for good. However, Germany was still very much in the game as Pascal Gross hit the post in the 11th minute and Niclas Füllkrug subsequently produced two excellent opportunities but was stopped by American goalkeeper Matt Turner.

The four-time World Cup champion quickly displayed its talent by tying the score in the 39th minute through Ilkay Gündogan, who collected a rebound from Turner’s touch as the goalkeeper tried to halt Leroy Sané’s advance. When Füllkrug and Jamal Musiala scored in a three-minute span starting in the 58th minute, the foreigners started to pull away from the Americans.

“It’s really these fine moments, these split seconds where you need to be well-positioned, not open up any gaps in your backline, and that’s where it went wrong,” Berhalter said.

“And in one case, tracking runners going through, keeping the organization of [the back] four and three in front of the four that it’s very difficult to break through. So we lacked that in those moments. But Germany’s a good team, and they’re going to open teams up. They’re going to create [good] scoring opportunities because of the quality that they have on the field.”

The U.S. offense did experience some risky moments in the first half, particularly when Tim Weah broke down the right wing, while Pulisic had a penalty appeal denied and another goal disallowed for offside.

“The first half, especially, I thought we were really good,” Berhalter added. “And then it came down to some moments. I think the goals were conceded a little bit too easily, but overall happy with the effort of the team, happy with the mindset and the intentions of the team.”

Berhalter stated that he was “overall pleased with that good learning experience to the group, and we know we need to get better if we want to win.”

The game was also Gio Reyna’s first appearance for Berhalter as an assistant since the American manager was rehired in June and the two had a public falling out after the 2022 World Cup.

The tension was caused by Berhalter’s treatment of Reyna during the competition, Reyna’s unsatisfactory performance in a reduced role that almost resulted in his dismissal, Berhalter’s role in reporting the incident, and the subsequent disclosure of a long-standing domestic violence allegation by Reyna’s mother, Danielle, to the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Reyna’s injury in the Concacaf Nations League final against Canada in June provided the first opportunity for the player and coach to reestablish their working relationship until Berhalter was rehired by U.S. Soccer in June following an investigation.

Reyna played the first half before being replaced at intermission, which was the plan considering that the player had only played 26 minutes all season for club team Borussia Dortmund.

“We thought 45 [minutes] was a perfect dose for him, and we wanted to give him the opportunity to get the 45 from the beginning,” Berhalter said. “And I think he played a good game, showed his quality. I think everyone in the first half played well, and so it was good to see and good to have him on the field.”

Prior to their friendly matchup against Ghana on Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee, the Americans will now attempt to regroup.

“It’s also about controlling the tempo of the game, and that’s what we really need to learn” Berhalter said. “And we cost so much energy also with our own counterattacks that then it’s hard to really stay consistent in all of your actions, your defensive shape.”

“And so that’s again, to me, that’s a learning experience. The games against opponents like this can’t be that open. It needs to be tighter.”

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