For the most part, USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has liked the progress of his players in Europe. (Photo courtesy of MLS)
By Michael Lewis
U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter had plenty to say about players who made and didn’t make the 26-player roster for his team’s two friendly matches later this month.
The Americans meet Jamaica in Austria March 25 and then visit Northern Ireland March 28.
During Wednesday’s Zoom press conference with the media, here is what Berhalter said about several players, some who made the roster, others who did not:
Forward Matthew Hoppe of Schalke O4 (Germany), who was not included on the team
“Matthew is a player that can only play in the first game. So now you have to start juggling substitutions that you’re going to need to make in the game because players aren’t fully 90 minutes fit and what guy’s going to have to play 90. Then, that you know that the potential for him to get on the field and the overall roster size, and he’s one of those guys that just from a numbers standpoint didn’t work out because of that.
“We don’t think it’s highly likely that our striker will play 90 minutes in that game in against Jamaica. We’ll have to make six other changes and you know he wasn’t going to get on the field. I had discussions with him, and I talked about his progress at Schalke. I talked about some of the things we really liked with him. I also told him that we’re you know we’re going to continue to monitor him, and, and hopefully get a chance to look at them before the World Cup qualifiers start.”
Forward Daryl Dike, who wasn’t released for the Concacaf Olympic Championship by Barnsley, where he is on loan
“That’s a voluntary release and Barnsley wasn’t willing to release him. Of what we see from him now, it’s been great to see him compete in the English Championship. We know it’s a difficult league. We know it’s a league where physicality is a priority, and he’s doing a great job dealing with that, really sharpening some of his movement in the penalty box, using his body, using his physicality more. Scored a couple of good goals. It’s great to see a player just continue to learn and develop. You can see he’s making progress, week in and week out.”
Forward Tim Weah, who is playing more and producing more at Lille, the French Ligue 1 leaders
“He’s probably the most consistent he’s ever been in his career, playing, getting consistent game time playing for the league leaders in France, playing the Europa League games. They’re doing well in the cup as well. It’s been great watching him. Plays a number of different positions; will play winger, will play up front. Good movement behind the back line. Is being more aggressive with shooting. Very good with his defensive pressure. So I’m really pleased with where Tim is at. It’s been nice to see his progress and nice to see how these consistent minutes has led to improvement.”
Defender Chris Richards, who is playing for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on loan from Bayern Munich
“We’ve been watching Chris play, and they’re playing with a 5-3-2 formation. He plays left center back. It’s really nice to see him able to play left center back, side center back and be able to pass the ball from good positions, even when he’s using his right foot. He will try his left foot sometimes. He’s breaking lines. He’s able to cover space behind the backline really well. For him at being a young player playing center back, it’s just about keep getting the games, keep getting these experiences. At times he’s making some errors stepping into the midfield line opening space behind him, but we’re completely confident that these are things that he’s going to continue to improve on because he’s doing a really good job at Hoffenheim.”
Defender Bryan Reynolds, who made his debut at AS Roma in Italy’s Serie A last weekend
“Brian’s going to be able to go to both games. But more importantly is [he has] made a big step. We wanted to bring him into December camp to look at his progress. We weren’t able to do that. Now we get a chance to look at them up closely, and if he’s a player that you think has big potential. Obviously making his debut at such a young age in Serie A or a big club like Roma is monumental. It would be great to see them up close.”
Midfielder Luca de la Torre, who plays for Heracles in the Eredivisie in the Netherlands
“Luca has a great story of a guy who’s been patient, finding the level that that he can compete that week in, week out. He’s been doing a good job, scored some goals, is a big part of their midfield. We know that our midfield has a lot of options. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get on field.”
Midfielder Yunus Musah, a Valencia player who committed to the USMNT Monday and the process of recruiting him
“If we look at it [with] some a holistic standpoint. That is certainly part of the process, but the other part of the process is the program speaking for itself and the guys being the best advocates for the program in him coming into our environment and experiencing working environments like and guys making them feel welcome and them seeing a long-term view of what US Soccer can be.”
Midfielder Duane Holmes (Huddersfield Town, English Championship) and forward Julian Green (Greuther Fürth; German Second Bundesliga), who were not called into camp
“When we talk about Julian and Dwayne you know I had two conversations with Duane and talk to him about things he could be doing better at times for Huddersfield. He’s playing on the wing, and we see him more central. So that’s something that that we’re going to work with. A lot of it was due to just the complications of who can come in and who can stay for both games and who can’t stay for ball games and we had to juggle that. That was an issue.”