The United States men’s national team played against Chile in Houston last night, and held out for a draw, 1-1. Gregg Berhalter saw his team conceding for the first time since he sat on the bench of the US team, but his boys are still without a loss.
Chile was a bit different opponent than the previous one. With a squad full of players from top European clubs, who are playing together for the last several years, La Roja was the first challenge for Berhalter in which his team hasn’t been a favorite.
Because of that, the US coach said after the game that it presented a true test for his boys, and a chance to see what separates them at the moment.
“It was a great test for the guys,” Berhalter said. “I’m really happy we got to play a game like this, and I think we’ve learned a lot.”
The US team doesn’t have players like Barcelona’s star Arturo Vidal, or Gary Medel from Besiktas, who have the background of playing together tons of high-intensity matches, throughout their national team career.
The American team is mostly built from players who are still young and have to learn to play together. This one and the game against Ecuador were the first two under Berhalter in which he had a chance to see the full potential of his team, with all the players at disposal.
That was obvious last night, as Chile controlled most of the match. More experienced guests, imposed their style of play, keeping the ball and slowing down the tempo, while on the other hand, acting very aggressive and physical when defending.
Still, the US hit first after just four minutes, when Gyasi Zardes sent a perfect pass behind the rival’s back line to Christian Pulisic, who stormed in and beat the Chilean goalkeeper.
But just five minutes later Chile tied the result. Oscar Opazo took the ball inside the box and smashed it past Horvath, who we might say didn’t react very well.
At some moments, the Chilean team played a bit dirty, and three yellow cards, compared to only one by the hosts, are clearly showing that they didn’t see this contest as a friendly one.
Christian Pulisic had to leave the game after just 36 minutes, because of knee problems. That was a huge blow for the Americans, who already played without several players who can keep the ball in their feet, McKennie, Long, Adams, Steffen, etc.
From that moment on the Chilean team completely took over the possession, while hosts waited for the counter-attacks.
Even though they had 66% of the ball possession, the guests couldn’t breach US defense.
For Berhalter, these two recent games weren’t about the final result, and he did mention that on several occasions when communicating with the media.
His only goal was to see how the boys behave in certain situations.
“I learned that the guys are resilient; also I learned that we were pushed to the limit today and the guys hung in there, when you see the effort that the guys put in there,” said Berhalter postgame.
In general, the lineup against Chile was far away from the best possible, and many people tend to neglect that. Also, it appears that after three wins in a row, a vast majority of the public increased their expectations from this team, which is still in the process of making.
“Our goal going into this camp was to evaluate as many people as possible in this camp. We did that,” the US coach said. “That’s why we made seven changes to the lineup, to see new faces.”
The American team will have new challenges coming up in June. The national team has a friendly arranged with Venezuela, and that will be the final test before the Gold Cup, which will be held between 15th June and 7th July.
Berhalter’s boys will appear at that competition as the defending champions, although most of them didn’t play at the previous tournament.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.