Gregg Berhalter: “Look at the score lines around across the board of all these games. They’re one-goal games. They’re super tight games.( (Photo courtesy of US Soccer)
By Michael Lewis
One thing is certain.
The U.S. men’s national team certainly isn’t an early riser in its recent matches.
In fact, the Americans have gone scoreless in the first half of their last eight games, which has spanned five World Cup qualifiers and three Concacaf Gold Cup knockout-round contests.
The last time they celebrated a goal in the opening 45 minutes came in a 1-0 group win over Canada July 18. That’s when Shaq Moore tallied in the first minute.
Since then, the USA has gone 360 consecutive minutes of first half action without celebrating a goal. Perhaps the Americans will be able to break against Costa Rica in a WCQ at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio Wednesday at 7 p.m. (ESPN2).
If the USA wants to thrive, if not survive the Concacaf Octagonal, it will have to find ways to score in the opening 45 minutes.
“I think we created chances in the first half,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “We didn’t always score them. All of these games are tight. The first thing that we need to understand like the games … are either tournament games or World Cup qualifier games. Look at the score lines around across the board of all these games. They’re one-goal games. They’re super tight games, save for the Mexico game that Honduras got a red card in early in the game.”
Mexico defeated Honduras, 3-0. Sunday.
“These are these are tight games,” Berhalter continued. “They’re not going to be blowouts. For us it’s about the key moments of the game. It’s about staying focused; it’s about bringing that intensity, and these are things that we all we all talked about.”
Added defender Antonee Robinson: “Maybe going forward that just means that we need to be a bit more ruthless. Obviously, we respect our opponents but we need to realize how good a team we are at the same time and maybe not be so conservative when we know we’ve got the quality to go and attack teams, a full strength early on.”
The first 20 qualifiers in the Octagonal have been close. Teams have averaged 1.7 goals a match. Only five games have been decided by two or more goals. There also have been five scoreless draws.
The USMNT has scored seven goals in five WCQ, second only to Mexico’s eight. Four of the Americans’ goals were tallied in the 4-1 win at Honduras.