USMNT World Cup mailbox: what roster changes should Gregg Berhalter make ahead of the England game? | Update News

CBS Sports football analyst Grant Wahl is in Qatar covering his eighth men’s World Cup. He will write a column for CBS after every USMNT group stage game. The rest of his articles, including magazine-style stories, interviews, and breaking news, can be found at

Doha, Qatar Hello from the World Cup! I’m excited to write the US gaming column for CBS, and I’m grateful to all of you who asked questions. Let’s go deeper:

“Do you think inexperience got the better of the USMNT, or does that downplay Wales’ drive to bounce back?” — @8bitSerge

One of the few things that I think showed the inexperience of the US was two early yellow cards from Serginho Dest and Weston McKenny. I had no problem with the other two American yellows for Tim Rome and Kellyn Acosta because I thought they were smart to get them. But give Wales credit for the change before the second half and much more control of the game after it. In terms of inexperience, Walker Zimmerman is 29 years old but this was his first World Cup game and I don’t think he will fall into the box like he did against Gareth Bale in the future. more World Cup games behind him.

“Are we running too much? No seriously. MMA should cover the side outside backs and move forward for late runs into the box.” — @UsmntReactions

The thing is, among US linebackers, Tyler Adams has the fitness and energizer bunny motor to be able to run as much as he did against Wales and still look good by the end of the game. This does not apply to Yunus Musa, who worked hard before coming out in the 74th minute, and McKenny, who came out in the 66th minute and is not yet ready to play 90 minutes after a hip injury at Juventus. I don’t think US linebackers necessarily run too muchbut they are asked to do a lot.

“Will Berhalter be ruined by his lack of a standard line-up? USMNT fans are very passionate about how he handled yesterday’s match, I’m curious what you think of his tactics.” — @EdricAlexi

I thought Berhalter got big calls in the starting XI right against Wales. Tim Ream was the top choice over Aaron Long and Tim Weah proved to be the right choice ahead of Gio Reina and Brenden Aaronsohn. I don’t expect the US to have a starter kit for this World Cup and I don’t think Berhalter should. Aaronsson and Reina should start at some point in this group stage and I think they will. Rotation in these cases is reasonable. I really think you could certainly argue that replacing Jordan Morris for Reina when the US needed a goal is a total headache. It didn’t make sense to me. But I also know that Berhalter is Reyna’s big guy and certainly has nothing against him.

“Should Pulisic start automatically, and if not, will Gregg have the guts to start someone else at the World Championships?” @MikeDeCicco

I don’t think anyone has to be a 100% automatic starter and there were times during qualifying (Mexico at home, Honduras at home) when Berhalter brought Pulisic in as a substitute. (He scored in both of those games.) I expect Pulisic to continue to start this World Cup because he is one of the best players in the US and has had a good game overall against Wales despite some hot shots.

“Have you seen any good stadium screenshot yet?” @daarau

So far it has been a bad World Cup for stadium food. The only thing I saw last night that looked semi-edible was french cheese flavored potato chips. We spent some time trying to figure out which “French cheese” was the base for the chips, but we didn’t succeed in the end.

“Can you understand Qatar’s general reaction to statements (like your rainbow shirt) and the global outrage at the handling of these statements or protests? Glad you got out of this situation unscathed!” — @cbmackey

Thank you! To be honest, I don’t know what was the reaction of a Qatari citizen to my T-shirt, because it’s hard to meet real ordinary Qataris here. Over 90% of the workforce in the country are migrant workers from other countries and it is easier to meet them here, often as Uber drivers, domestic workers, etc. I really feel that the Qatari regime/royal family feel like victims of their kind anti-Arab Western sentiment. But they are not victims. In fact, they are among the perpetrators of the human rights violations that have taken place in this country.

“How can we stop FIFA from continuing to put its financial interests ahead of what’s best for the game?” — @RikoSuave27

It’s a perennial problem: there is little the average football fan around the world can do to get FIFA to change its policies. FIFA’s decision to host this World Cup in Qatar (and the 2018 World Cup in Russia) was corrupt, and the US Department of Justice has said exactly that, citing a plethora of forensic evidence. Qatar and Russia deny this. I would suggest watching FIFA Uncovered, a four-part documentary series on Netflix that details the rise and fall of FIFA, in addition to the US Department of Justice investigation. After all, the only organization that instilled fear in the rulers of FIFA was the government of the United States. I am glad that the USA conducted the FIFA investigation and special operation in 2015. This should be a point of pride for every American citizen.

“Midfield should be our forte, but touch cards against Wales involve a lot of wing play followed by lousy crosses. What can the US do to make them more central?” — @AJShaughnessy

Well, of course it would help if the crosses were better! It is difficult to apply the lessons from the Wales game to the upcoming games with England or Iran because Wales has been deployed in a 5-3-2 formation, which will not happen if the US opponents move forward. The USA vs. Wales goal streak was actually an example of what a team should have been trying to do during preparation. Josh Sargent pulled defenseman Joe Rodon with him and passed the ball to Pulisic, who darted into the space left by Rodon before passing to Weah for a goal. However, the U.S. didn’t get enough of it against Wales, meaning there was little use of the ball in midfield. I expect the USA to have a lot less ball against England and I hope to hit on the counter.

“What are your thoughts on whether there is anyone better than Pulisic who could play set pieces?” — @unc8689

The two players I’d like to see are Aaronson and Acosta, who have long proven they’re better at taking set pieces than Pulisic. But for this, someone from Aaronson and / or Acosta must come out. I think we will see Aaronson in a starting role against England.

“What is the ratio of male to female USMNT fans in Qatar? Or the fans in general that you see?” — @spolich77

The USMNT group probably has a majority of male fans, but not many as there are many women, including the regulars I see on almost every trip. I’m also intrigued by the fans of the North African and Middle East teams and how many women are in those groups. There was not a single woman that I saw in the Qatar hardcore fan section during the opening game. But today I saw a group of women in the fan section of Tunisia.

“We obviously had a starting XI destined for certain activities against Wales. What changes/tactics against England?” — @Todd9115

I think we will see Aaronsson or Reina start against England although one question I still have is if Weah can start at number 9 in this game. Let’s see if the knockout that sent Yunus Musa out of the game for Wales becomes a permanent problem. If so, then Acosta might be an option to start with. But I do not foresee any changes either in the back line or at the gate.

CBS Sports football analyst Grant Wahl is in Qatar covering his eighth men’s World Cup. He will write a column for CBS after every USMNT group stage game. The rest of his articles, including magazine-style stories, interviews, and breaking news, can be found at


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