Berhalter Trusted His Depth Vs. Panama — Too Bad That “Depth” Was As Deep As A Kiddie Pool
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The “Berhalter Out” group of USMNT fans had a field day Sunday night watching the U.S. fall to Panama 1-0 at the Estadio Rommel Fernández. The performance from Gregg Berhalter’s team was one of the most uninspiring from an American side since four years ago to the day when the Americans lost to Trinidad and Tobago 2-1.
The USMNT failed to register a single shot on target as Panama got its first ever victory against the U.S. during World Cup qualifying. The five total shots from the U.S. was lowest number in the team's last 28 World Cup qualifiers.
A look at Berhalter’s starting lineup Sunday night helps explain the lifeless performance. Berhalter made SEVEN changes to the starting XI that defeated Jamaica 2-0 on Thursday. Weston McKennie and Antonee Robinson didn’t make the trip to Panama.
USMNT Travel Roster Update:Antonee Robinson and Zack Steffen (quarantine restrictions), and Weston McKennie (quad soreness) will not travel to Panama and will instead head straight to Columbus to prepare for #USAvCRC on Oct. 13.
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) October 8, 2021
Sunday Fútbol in Panamá.
3 points up for grabs. Let's do this.
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) October 10, 2021
Berhalter’s lineup vs. Panama featured seven MLS players and a group that seriously lacked chemistry. Not even the thesaurus has enough synonyms to describe how comatose the USMNT looked. Clint Dempsey said it best after the game.
“None of them (the seven new players that started) showed that they belonged in the USMNT starting eleven,” Dempsey said.
Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson were brought on at halftime slightly improving the fluidity of play. Gyasi Zardes, who put in one of his worst performances to date, found the opening goal for Panama in the 54th minute off a corner kick.
Panama take the lead over the USMNT pic.twitter.com/tMsgTaqXTI— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 10, 2021
Not even the hero Ricardo Pepi — who was brought on in the 68th minute alongside DeAndre Yedlin and Cristian Roldan — could salvage a point for the USMNT. The attack for the U.S. couldn’t have looked more disconnected. The game plan looked like it was “let’s just keep putting in half-assed crosses and hope something good happens.” It didn’t work.
Panama defeat USA in World Cup Qualifying. Just look what it means pic.twitter.com/zJepk582zG— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 11, 2021
It’s understandable that Berhalter didn’t want to overwork his players who flew 1000s of miles for a quick span of three high-intensity games. At the same time, it seems odd that he chose to put out the weakest USMNT lineup for the most difficult game of the qualifying window.
Here was how the “Berhalter Out” crowd reacted.
1-0 loss ✅0 shots on target ✅
90’ for Lletget ✅
90’ for Acosta ✅
Zardes Own Goal ✅
MLS Quota met ✅
— George (@_GeorgeGlass) October 11, 2021
— Stephen A. Smith Burner (@TheSASBurner) October 11, 2021
Berhalter owes every USA fan an apology after this disaster. Lletget and Acosta should be sent home before the Costa Rica match.— Pensando (@gointhrualotrn) October 11, 2021
Embarrassing result. Embarrassing lineup. Embarrassing manager.So can’t really expect much else.
— Jack Talley (@jack__talley) October 11, 2021
— Paul (@BroadStrtPaul) October 11, 2021
“I have no words” are the only words I have for Gregg and his terrible tactics. What other team is benching their best players? What other team has 100 different starting lineup combinations? I’m tired of this shit and it’s only been 5 games #berhalterOUT #USMNT— Pablo (@tlopontwittter) October 10, 2021
0 shots on goal.Embarrassing performance. Gregg Berhalter is 10000% to blame.
Through 5 games, our saving grace is Ricardo Pepi and our defense. The only game we’ve looked decent for two halves was the easiest of all the qualifiers we’ll play.
Gregg won’t be held accountable.
— MLS Buzz (@MLS_Buzz) October 10, 2021
7 changes from last game, 7. Can’t look past Panama.Midfield was atrocious, outside backs just as bad.
Berhalter lost this game.
Cant wait for #FutbolAmericas tomorrow.
— herculez gomez (@herculezg) October 11, 2021
This result is completely on Gregg Berhalter.. from his starting lineup to his subs it’s just been horrible for the USMNT.. we’ll be lucky to get a draw at this point tbh.— USMNT (@USMNTTAKES) October 10, 2021
Is It Time For Berhalter To Go?
I hate to kill the mood, but no, it’s not time for Berhalter to get the axe.
Prior to the defeat to Panama the USMNT was tied for its longest undefeated streak in history and was top of the Concacaf World Cup qualifying table. The U.S. is still second in the Concacaf table.
This loss will be a huge blemish on Berhalter’s resume, however a strong return home against Costa Rica on Wednesday can somewhat redeem him. If the USMNT fails to get a victory against Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday then I will open my ears to the “Berhalter Out” crowd a little more.
Am I still pissed off at Berhalter? Absolutely. Do I want to see him out the door? Not quite yet.
The USMNT will play Costa Rica at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday. That game can be watched on ESPN2 and TUDN.