The U.S. men’s national team hope to improve upon Saturday’s lackluster 3-0 win over Uzbekistan when they face Oman on Tuesday but will be up against a different set of challenges when they take to the pitch at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
“Oman is completely different than Uzbekistan,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said in a pre-match press conference on Monday. “Uzbekistan was a 5-4-1, at times 5-2-3, very difficult block to break down, defending with four players on the wing, very compact. Oman has played a 4-4-2 diamond and they have a very, very dynamic counterattack. Part of the emphasis in this camp was finishing attacks against a low block in Uzbekistan and now preventing transitions against Oman, so it’s going to be a great test for us.”
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The difference in opposition formation could be good news for the USMNT, who found it difficult to break down Uzbekistan’s compact defense despite eventually scoring three goals. Berhalter, though, emphasized Oman’s ability to “batter” teams on the transition, which he said they did in a friendly they played last November.
“They’re going to be good in offensive transition and that’s going to be a real key for us in this game,” he added. “They’ve got speed and they’ve got a good playmaker who can get those forwards the ball in transition.”
Though the Oman game will likely play out differently than the one against Uzbekistan in terms of the tactical battle, Berhalter feels there are plenty of lessons the USMNT can take from the last match.
“I think there were some careless loss of possessions, that was the first thing,” Berhalter added. “Second thing is, I think, more often recognizing what exactly is happening with their shape and how we can break it down.”
He also said he plans not to make wholesale changes to his lineup despite the uneven performance on Saturday. Berhalter mostly kept to himself on Tuesday’s first-choice team but did reveal that goalkeeper Ethan Horvath will start in Matt Tuner’s place against Oman.
“Ethan’s going to play in goal tomorrow, that’s pretty clear,” Berhalter said. “We’re going to mix up some players but it’ll be a very similar lineup to what you saw last time.”
Berhalter is opting to choose consistency despite a few comings and goings in between the games, though — Turner departed camp as he and his wife await the arrival of their second child, while defender Joe Scally left for family reasons. Inter Miami shotstopper Drake Callendar joined the group as did New England Revolution defender DeJuan Jones.
Callendar is one of three players awaiting their first cap, including club teammate Benjamin Cremaschi. Cremaschi has impressed in his first week of training under Berhalter, but he is not poised for a start on Tuesday.
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“He fits in really well, Ben,” the coach said. “He’s a great kid, he learns really quickly, adapting well to the speed of the game and it’s been great having in camp. He’s not going to start the game.”
A debut could be in store for the Miami duo, as well as Wolfsburg’s Kevin Paredes after Palermo defender Kristoffer Lund earned his first cap against Uzbekistan. Berhalter, though, seems focused on prioritizing a strong performance and an accompanying result.
“We’d love to get him a debut,” he said about Cremaschi. “We just have to see how the substitutions work. You have six subs in the game so it becomes challenging to get everybody on the field even though you’d like to.
How to watch
- Date: Tuesday, Sept. 12 | Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Allianz Field — Saint Paul, Minnesota
- TV: TNT | Live stream: fubo (Try for free)