By Michael Lewis
In a big game, the little things count, says Gregg Berhalter.
Especially when the U.S. and Mexico tangle for Concacaf glory.
The U.S. men’s national team head coach expects a tight game between the two archrivals.
“The games will be very difficult, the games will be very tense,” he said. “There’s small things that separate the winner.”
Berhalter then used the last two finals between the teams as examples.
El Tri captured the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup crown behind a 1-0 victory.
The Americans took home the first Concacaf Nations League trophy with a 3-2 triumph in extratime.
“We know it’s going to be a tight game,” Berhalter said. “Things like set pieces will come into play in this game, who can commit to executing on both sides of the ball and set pieces, who can execute the game plan, and who can respond. That’s the crucial thing. We’ve learned [when] it’s not always going to go to our plan, there’s going be bumps in the road. It’s about how you respond to these bumps. If you do in the right way you’ll be successful.”
Berhalter did not say anything that will be put up on the Mexican locker room wall or be retweeted over Twitter before kickoff.
In fact, he praised Mexico head coach Tata Martino, who directed Atlanta United to the MLS Cup crown in its second season as an expansion team in 2018.
“I’ve got a ton of respect for Tata Martino. I think he’s a great coach,” he said. “If I had half the career he’s had as a coach, I’d be happy. He’s a really successful coach and he’s coached all over the world and some top clubs and countries.”