USMNT World Cup Mail Bag: What lineup changes should Gregg Berhalter make for the England game?

CBS Sports soccer analyst Grant Wahl is in Qatar covering its eighth men’s World Cup. He will be writing email columns for CBS after every USMNT group stage game. The rest of his writing, including magazine-style stories, interviews, and breaking news, can be found at

Doha, Qatar — Greetings from the World Cup! I’m excited to do some e-mail columns for CBS on US gaming, and thanks to everyone who sent in the questions. Let’s dive in:

“Do you think inexperience got the better of USMNT, or is that minimizing Wales’ drive to bounce back?” — @8bitSerge

One of the few things I thought showed the inexperience of the US was the two early yellow cards for Sergiño Dest and Weston McKennie. I had no problem with the other two US yellows for Tim Ream and Kellyn Acosta because I thought they were smart to get them. But give credit to Wales for making changes before the second half and much more control of the game afterwards. As for inexperience, Walker Zimmerman is 29 years old, but this was his first World Cup game, and going down into the penalty area like he did against Gareth Bale is something I don’t think he’ll do in the future once he’s got it. most World Cup matches to his credit.

“Are we running too much? No, seriously. MMA has to cover outside runners laterally and push forward for the last few runs into the box.” — @UsmntReactions

The fact is, among the US midfielders, Tyler Adams has the Energizer-bunny fitness and engine to be able to run as hard as he did against Wales and still look good at the end of the game. That was not the case for Yunus Musah, who was in trouble before leaving in the 74th minute, and McKennie, who came out in the 66th minute and is still not fit to play the full 90 minutes after his thigh injury at Juventus. . I don’t think American midfielders necessarily run toobut they are asked to do a lot.

“Will his lack of a fixed lineup be Berhalter’s undoing? USMNT fans are very enthusiastic about the way he handled yesterday’s match, I’m curious what your take on his tactics is.” — @EdricAlexi

I thought Berhalter got the big calls in the starting lineup right against Wales. Tim Ream was the better choice over Aaron Long, and Tim Weah proved to be the right choice ahead of Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson. I don’t expect the US to have a fixed starting XI at this World Cup, nor do I think Berhalter should. Aaronson and Reyna should start at some point in this group stage, and I think they will. Rotation in those cases is smart. However, I think it could certainly be argued that subbing in for Jordan Morris for Reyna when the US needed a goal is a total pain in the ass. That didn’t make sense to me. But I also know that Berhalter is a big Reyna guy and she certainly has nothing against him.

“Should Pulisic be an automatic starter and if not, would Gregg have the guts to start someone else at the World Cup?” @MikeDeCicco

I don’t think anyone should be a 100% automatic starter, and there were times during qualifying (Mexico at home, Honduras at home) when Berhalter brought in Pulisic as a substitute. (He Scored in both games.) I expect Pulisic to continue to start this World Cup because he is one of the best players for the USA and had a good overall game against Wales despite some hot takes.

“Any good stadium scrans you’ve seen so far?” @daarau

This has been a poor World Cup so far for stadium food. The only thing I saw last night that looked semi-edible were “French cheese” flavored fries. We spent a while trying to figure out what “French cheese” was the base of the fries, but had a hard time doing it in the end.

“Can you get an idea of ​​the general Qatari reaction to the statements (like your rainbow jersey) and the global outrage over the handling of those statements or protests? I’m glad you got out of that situation unscathed!” — @cbmackey

Thank you! Honestly, I don’t know what the general reaction of Qatari citizens was to my jersey, because it’s kind of hard to meet real Qataris here. More than 90% of the workforce in the country are immigrant workers from other countries, and it is easier to find them here, often as Uber drivers, domestic workers, etc. I feel that the Qatari regime/royal family feels that they are the victims of some kind of anti-Arab western sentiment. But they are not victims. In fact, they are some of the perpetrators of the human rights violations that have taken place in this country.

“How can we prevent FIFA from continuing to put its financial interests before what is best for the game?” — @RikoSuave27

This is the perennial problem: the average soccer fan around the world really has almost nothing they can do to force FIFA to change their ways. FIFA’s choice to host this World Cup in Qatar (and the 2018 World Cup in Russia) was corrupt, and the US Department of Justice has said exactly that, citing plenty of forensic evidence. Qatar and Russia deny it. I’d suggest watching “FIFA Uncovered,” the four-part docu-series on Netflix detailing the rise and fall of FIFA, plus the US Department of Justice investigation into the end, the only entity anywhere that instilled fear. to the rulers of FIFA was the United States government. I’m glad the USA did the investigation and the FIFA sting operation in 2015. It should be a point of pride for all American citizens.

“Midfield is supposed to be our strength, but the tactile maps of the Wales game suggest a lot of wing play followed by lousy crosses. What can the US do to make them more central?” — @AJShaughnessy

Well, it would certainly help if the crosses were better! It’s hard to apply the lessons from the Wales game to the next England or Iran games because Wales deployed in a 5-3-2, and that won’t be the case with US opponents going forward. The USA’s goal sequence against Wales was actually an example of what the team had tried to do during the build-up. Josh Sargent dragged defender Joe Rodon with him and passed the ball to Pulisic, who dove into the space left by Rodon before passing to Weah for the goal. However, the USA did not do enough against Wales, which meant there was little use of the ball in midfield. I expect the USA to have much less of the ball against England and look to attack on the counterattack.

“What do you think about whether there is someone better than Pulisic to take the kicks from set pieces?” — @unc8689

The two players I would like are Aaronson and Acosta, who have proven to be better at taking set pieces than Pulisic for a while. But one of Aaronson and/or Acosta has to start for that to happen. I think we will see Aaronson in a starting role against England.

“What is the ratio of USMNT male to female fans in Qatar? Or fans in general what are you looking at?” — @spolich77

There are probably a majority of male fans among the USMNT group here, but not that much as there are several female ones, including the regulars I see on almost every ride. I am also intrigued by the fans of the North African and Middle Eastern teams and how many women are part of those groups. There was not a single woman I saw in the Qatari hardcore supporters section during the opening match. But today I saw a lot of women in the Tunisian fan section.

“Obviously we had a starting XI designed to do some specific things against Wales. What are the changes/tactics against England?” — @Todd9115

I think we’ll see either Aaronson or Reyna in the starting line-up against England, although one question I still have is whether Weah could start at No. 9 in that game. We’ll see if the hit he sent Yunus Musah out of the Wales game becomes an ongoing problem. If that’s the case, then Acosta could be an option to start with. But I don’t see changes in the bottom line or in the goal.

CBS Sports soccer analyst Grant Wahl is in Qatar covering its eighth men’s World Cup. He will be writing email columns for CBS after every USMNT group stage game. The rest of his writing, including magazine-style stories, interviews, and breaking news, can be found at

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