The United States men’s national team triumphed 4-0 against Costa Rica in an international friendly on Wednesday.
After the phenomenal victory against Mexico in the Nations League final, head coach Gregg Berhalter decided to switch up the starting lineup completely and test his team’s depth.
Critics have long commented on the USMNT’s lack of reinforcements on the bench. During Olympic qualifiers, the American side struggled to dominate international football and consequently will sit out of the 2020 games.
Berhalter’s roster is composed of two extremes: European standouts and youth players looking for experience. Going into the match on Wednesday, the USMNT head coach knew to play the athletes in desperate need of minutes.
“What I realized is that it’s gonna take a group to get this done,” Berhalter said on qualifying for the World Cup. “It’s not going to take 11 starters; we need the whole group. And we showed that today and throughout the three games. Everyone except [third-string goalkeeper] David Ochoa got on the field; and that’s what’s going to be needed in World Cup qualifying.”
Orlando City’s Daryl Dike was not included in the Nations League roster, losing his spot to Josh Sargent and Jordan Siebatcheu, but came out on Wednesday to make Berhalter regret the decision. The head coach previously mentioned it was not an easy choice to make. The forward involved himself in almost every goal and scored the second himself.
“The physical side of it was there; the movement in behind the backline was there,” Berhalter said. “The only thing I would highlight is potentially the movement in the penalty box — really attacking crosses and getting on the crosses. But Daryl’s a young player, and he has a ton of room to grow and we’re gonna be here and help him supporting him to get there.”
Despite concerns, Berhalter also decided to play Valencia CF winger Yunus Musah. The La Liga player didn’t arrive in prime conditions after sitting out most Valencia matches due to lack of form.
“It’s not easy to just throw guy on when you have a game plan and when you’re trying to win,” Berhalter said of Musah. “Having said that, we still believe in his talent. I think he showed tonight his talent, his line-breaking dribbling and composure on the ball. He’s gonna be a fantastic player.”
The experience on Wednesday served vital for certain players as they hope to feature in World Cup qualifiers in the fall. The USMNT have a busy summer ahead and depth will be necessary to sail smoothly to Qatar 2022 especially.