The United States men’s national team played its first two matches in 10 months this week, showcasing youthful vigor and plenty of growth since Gregg Berhalter’s program development was stalled by the coronavirus pandemic.
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There were a lot of winners and few outright ‘losers’ — relatively speaking — from the scoreless draw against Wales and the blowout defeat of Panama.
Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest, and Zack Steffen were the lone players to go 90 minutes in both matches, while Giovanni Reyna, Yunus Musah, Tyler Adams, and Matt Miazga were the other four players to get two starts.
[ WATCH: Reyna’s gorgeous free kick, Gioacchini’s brace ]
Below is the full minute breakdown for the men of the USMNT camp. Who seized the chances provided by the absence of Christian Pulisic, Jordan Morris, Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, and the rest of MLS?
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Zack Steffen — 180 minutes, one clean sheetEthan Horvath — DNPChitiru Odunze — DNP
Horvath not seeing the field against Panama means Berhalter sees Steffen as his no-doubt No. 1, while Odunze was just here for reps. We knew that anyway, but the 180 minutes underscores it.
Sergino Dest — 180 minutes (two starts)Matt Miazga — 167 minutes (two starts), assistReggie Cannon — 93 minutes (one start, one sub), assistAntonee Robinson — 90 minutes (one start)John Brooks — 90 minutes (one start)Tim Ream — 90 minutes (one start)Chris Richards — 10 minutes (one sub)
Dest was electric in going 90 minutes each at right and left back, one of only two players to go the distance against both Wales and Panama. Cannon had a better camp than Robinson, but was it enough to keep Dest on his non-preferred side (and can Cannon man the left)?
Brooks was the Man of the Match against Wales and is the no doubt No. 1 in the pool, talent-wise. Miazga was fine against Wales but made mistakes on both Panama goals, with Ream sharing some blame on the opener. Richards only getting 10 minutes might say more about an extended chance for Miazga than it does for the Bayern Munich man.
Weston McKennie — 180 minutes (two starts)Yunus Musah — 157 minutes (two starts)Tyler Adams — 133 minutes (two starts)Sebastian Lletget — 100 minutes (one start, one sub), goalJohnny Cardoso — 47 minutes (two subs)Richy Ledezma — 22 minutes (one sub), 2 assistsOwen Otasowie — 3 minutes (one sub)
McKennie was the team’s heart and soul in both matches, going the distance and barely putting a foot awry with the exception of what could’ve been a red card tackle in the second half against Panama. Berhalter had huge praise for the Juventus man, who looks very much like a player who’s been earning minutes in the Serie A powers’ midfield. He played a big role in the first three goals versus Panama.
Musah is the real deal, and the only question is whether the ball transporter will choose playing and probably starting for the USMNT now over a chance with England down the line (He’s repped England at many youth levels). The Valencia teen’s signature would be a massive victory for the USMNT.
Adams was good in both games. The question for Berhalter is whether he’s should be the lone holding/defensive midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 or if a double pivot may be needed more often.
Lletget’s 100 minutes are both misleading and not; Berhalter shoehorning the midfielder into a start at forward against Wales shows how much he loves the player who has been good in most of his USMNT caps, but he’s not getting that look with Josh Sargent, Gyasi Zardes, and maybe now both Gioacchini and Soto available.
Cardoso is green, which Berhalter noted, but he definitely had the technical skills and tenacity often seen from players who hail from Brazilian clubs.
Ledezma proved he’s ready for prime time, at least against CONCACAF defenses, by getting into space and providing two assists to Soto. He’ll continue to get looks.
Otasowie’s cameo will lead to some questions for a player who can still choose other clubs and could soon see minutes for Wolves in the Premier League.
Giovanni Reyna — 147 minutes (two starts), goalNicholas Gioacchini — 87 minutes (one start, one sub), 2 goalsUlysses Llanez — 81 minutes (one start, one sub)Konrad de la Fuente — 71 minutes (one start)Timothy Weah — 24 minutes (two subs)Sebastian Soto — 13 minutes, (one sub) 2 goals
We finally got to see Reyna with the senior team. Neither performance would qualify anywhere near his best days with Borussia Dortmund but he honestly had looked a little fatigued in recent BVB outings and frankly he probably could use a rest after a thrilling but fatiguing breakthrough in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League. His free kick goal was wonderful.
Gioacchini’s and Soto’s performances against Panama will have a lot of us wondering if this would’ve been a 2-0 international break had Berhalter opted for either (or Timothy Weah) over lone-MLS representative Lletget in an out-of-position start last week. Their stock has risen the highest of any non-Reyna first-timer.
Llanez played in both matches and should only get better with more and more European minutes. He’s on loan from Wolfsburg to Dutch side Heerenveen, where he’s made three sub appearances and thrice been an unused sub. A scary-looking knee injury versus Panama was fortunately not a concern.
Weah is a big question mark. A super sub for Lille who’s scored six goals in 33 senior appearances between the Ligue 1 side, Celtic, and Paris Saint-Germain, his not starting at center forward over Lletget only to not get the call against Panama either begs questions that have yet to be asked of Berhalter. It’s reasonable enough to think he could be on a minutes restriction after a massive knee injury last season, as he’s gone 10, 8, 11, 7, 12, 1, and 14 minutes in his seven matches for second-place Lille.
Breakdown of USMNT players in Wales, Panama friendlies originally appeared on NBCSports.com