U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter has revealed he wants his side to adopt an aggressive approach during their World Cup qualifier against Jamaica on 7 October.
The United States have made a mixed start to their qualification campaign, winning one and drawing two of their opening three games.
Berhalter will be hoping for three wins during this international break and has called up Brenden Aaronson, Paul Arriola, Matthew Hoppe, Ricardo Pepi, Tim Weah and Gyasi Zardes as the forwards to lead the American side to victory.
Jordan Pefok and Josh Sargent were consequently left out of the squad as the coach cited “our need in these games for some verticality and some speed to get behind the backline.”
“The way we always want to play is to be aggressive, is to break lines, is to play behind the backline,” said the coach. “One of our benchmarks each game that we discuss with the team is runs behind the backline, and I just didn’t think we did that effectively enough, particularly in the first two games. So that’s a focus of ours moving into this next window.”
The head coach revealed to reporters that Pepi and Zardes in particular can stand as complementary No. 9s to facilitate the style needed to win.
“At times against Honduras, when we started doing it, we gave them a ton of problems,” said Berhalter.
“And when you have guys like Paul, when you have guys like Brenden Aaronson, Gyasi, Ricardo Pepi, Timmy Weah, these guys will stretch the backline and will look to get behind, and that’s a really important part of our game. What it does is opens up space in the midfield and lets us play more effectively.”
The United States struggled in the previous round, winning just one out of their three matches to land in third place with five points. The USMNT is behind their North American rivals Mexico and Canada.