USMNT Displaying Resilience, but Exposing Depth Issues

The USMNT will receive a 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago. And because it qualifies for next summer’s Copa America, the result is very important. Manager Gregg Berhalter will likely praise the US for their persistence and resolve despite a dogged defense after the 80th minute. He’ll also note that it’s difficult to play against a 10-man team. Before the 80th minute, it became quite evident that there was a significant drop-off from the first-choice 11 to the backups in the wide forward positions. The absence of Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah was apparent. Malik Tillman slotted inside the field to form a box midfield for the US, with Yunus Musah and Weston McKennie deep and Tillman and Gio Reyna advanced. This led to the US running into a wall in the middle of the field. Without Weah and Pulisic opening up space, Reyna’s habit of holding onto the ball too long compounded the problem. Reyna needs to make quicker decisions and one-touch passes. Tillman and Kevin Paredes are both a step down from the usual USMNT flanks. The US lacked a final ball, due in part to running out of time or space instead of making the right play. The US didn’t have a plan B for Pulisic’s absence. McKennie won a penalty, although it was then taken away by VAR. Musah is prone to hero ball at times. The US does have bench options, with Ricardo Pepi scoring the opening goal. Brenden Aaronson has good counter-pressing skills when the US lose the ball. Reyna and Falorin Balogun combined on a beautiful goal for the 3rd after T&T’s legs had gone. The US can carry a hefty advantage into the second leg but their inability to break down a low block and packed defense is concerning. They will need to make noise next summer and in 2026. The US can’t plug and play the next man up and has no alternative to Adams. Thursday won’t do much to convince anyone they have a way around missing Pulisic and Weah either. USMNT fans will have to add to that shrine that has Adams’ picture on it. Luis Diaz scores twice for Colombia, dedicating his goals to his kidnapped father.