The United States Men’s National Team took a huge step under the regime of newly appointed manager, Greggg Berlhalter with a 1-0 win Thursday night in Orlando against Ecuador. With many of the potential first-team selections based in Europe inevitably missing January Camp, this camp marked the coming-out party of the young exciting trio: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, and Christian Pulisic, other European players and the introduction of Berhalters tactical approach.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Tim Ream is a steady presence in the back
Berhalter’s new system is 3-2-2-3 in attack and a 4-4-2 in defense. With Tyler Adams tucked inside as a hybrid midfielder in the attack, the United States were left with three central defenders. A steady presence for Premier League side Fulham, Ream’s impressive passing ability brought calmness to the game. While Paul Arriola stayed high and wide to stretch the Ecuadorian defense, Ream was asked to stay at home and facilitate from the back. While he isn’t an amazing athlete, this formation fits his skill set perfectly, a line-splitting, possession-based center back, which is right in his wheelhouse.
Tyler Adams was Tyler Adams
Much of the talk going into camp was how Berhalter’s system would best suit Tyler Adams. Known as a juggernaut the midfield who can run for days, Adams was just that against Ecuador. Deployed as a hybrid right back/central midfielder role, Adams found the game early and often and didn’t take a step wrong all game. He was his usual self, spear-heading attacks from the back, connecting simple, effective passes, and closing down players in defense. Although this was the first game as a new tactical experiment for Berhalter’s side, Adams was commanding and confident throughout. This formation could unleash Tyler Adams into a new gear that should have U.S. fans drooling at the mouth.
A step in the right direction for a new tactical approach
With minimal time as a full-group to put the tactics into play, Berhalter and his staff organized Skype and phone-call meetings with players to educate them on his tactical plan. For the first time a long time the United States were able to keep possession of the ball for large stretches of the game. McKennie and Pulisic found spots in the holes behind Cruezo, Arriola was a wide threat all game, and the defense was sound. This new system could introduce a new look and playing style going forward.