Berhalter pleased with U.S. despite Mexico rout
Despite a 3-0 defeat to Mexico on Friday night, United States men's national team head coach Gregg Berhalter is pleased with the progress his team is making.
"I think it's very clear to the players what we want to do, and now it's just continuing to work on that," he said during a Monday afternoon press conference in advance of Tuesday night's match against Uruguay at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. "When we have conversations with the guys, when we do video sessions with the guys, it's really impressive how tied in they are to what we are doing, how informed they are. The group's been great. We're come a long way since January."
Berhalter, who took over as head coach in January after the failed World Cup qualifying campaign, believes his young team -- the starting XI averaged just over 24 years old against Mexico -- can rise to the challenge.
"Don't forget, it's a very young team, and we'll get there," he said. "You're talking about a number of young players that could easily be the core of this team for the next eight years."
One of the youngest stars is Joshua Sargent, the 19-year-old forward who plays for Werder Bremen. The American coach praised the rising teenage star.
"I like his movement off the ball," Berhalter said. "I really like his finishing. I think inside the box is where he really shines. He's able to process goal-scoring opportunities very quickly and able to make good contact with the ball on frame most times."
Another one is San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jackson Yueill, who Berhalter said will start against Uruguay. The visiting side will present a formidable squad.
"Everything is a challenge with them," Berhalter said. "Ground. Space is a challenge with them. It's a very physically aggressive team. It's a very compact team."
No matter the opponent, one thing is clear: the U.S. will not stop in a pursuit of developing their own style, and Berhalter's players understand their coach's directions.
"Our buildout out of the back could improve," Sargent said. "We gave away a couple of goals that way. We're definitely going to look to improve that against Uruguay."
After a handy defeat against Mexico, it's time to move on, to improve, to keep trying.
"There's another game, another day to put things right," United States defender and St. Louis native Tim Ream said.