Irrespective of the individuals patrolling the sidelines, the previous seven months were expected to have little significance, but it was not an optimal start to the upcoming World Cup cycle as the tournament prepares to come back to its home soil in 2026.
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Panama was eliminated in the semifinals, and despite Berhalter being rehired on June 17, the team was still knocked out by Panama in the semifinals after playing five games at the Gold Cup.
In total, the U.S. Won six games, drew five, and lost once, outscoring their opponents 53 to 31-8. If we include penalties on Panama, they outscored us twice.
The player selection and style were highly familiar, but there were natural tweaks that came with different opponents. Additionally, the former assistants of Berhalter played a significant role in maintaining the status quo.
Here’s a retrospective on the previous few months, and some things to keep an eye on in the upcoming months.
Balogun’s arrival has the potential to make him a global star and instantly improves the team’s attack. The striker position was a noticeable weakness for the team during World Cup qualifying and in Qatar, but Balogun managed to score 22 goals in all competitions while on loan from Arsenal with French club Stade de Reims last year. He even ranked fourth in the Ligue 1 goalscoring standings. At just 22 years old, Balogun’s decision to commit his international future to the USMNT without hesitation is a significant development, possibly the most important one since the World Cup.
Despite only playing two games in the League of Nations for Canada against Mexico, he has shown glimpses of excitement in his appearances, wearing the blue and white jersey.
In what position should Gio Reyna be deployed?
There are multiple factors that have led the team to look more dangerous at any given point in recent years – with Balogun stepping up to the top spot, Reyna playing here, and Aaronson, McKennie, and Yunus Musah playing ahead of him. When Musah shifted centrally and Reyna played in a more attacking midfield role, it had a great effect on the League of Nations. Although he wasn’t a central attacking midfielder, he had some freedom to roam. Under Berhalter, Reyna was exclusively used on the wing, but there was a significant divergence from Berhalter’s approach in how Callaghan used him, especially in the 15-minute stint as a striker against the Netherlands in the World Cup.
In the final third of the game, Qatar collectively lacked experimentation, but the midfield group consisting of Adams, McKennie, Musah (also known as “MMA”) worked well together. They were faced with some challenging decisions, particularly with Reyna’s movements.
Unless both of them signal that they have resolved their issues, it will continue to be a subject of discussion. Berhalter admitted during his press conference upon his return that there was a need for “effort” in fixing his connection with Reyna following the humiliating familial conflict that unfolded after the World Cup. Additionally, with Reyna, there is an undeniable issue that must be addressed.
New beginning, verified
A number of important participants are undergoing training with fresh clubs in Europe.
Pulisic is currently in a position to produce at a high level in Europe, but it is also important for him to stay healthy.
Leeds currently suffered from a lack of defensive proficiency that would prevent them from being a team that Aaronson would join Union Berlin within the UEFA Champions League. Despite being relegated, Aaronson desired to relocate but still managed to participate in 36 out of 38 matches in the Premier League following a $30 million transfer to Leeds United from FC Salzburg, FC Union Berlin, Brenden Aaronson.
Depending on the perspective, Timothy Weah’s move to Juventus might be seen in various ways. From the player’s point of view, it is an impressive transfer to a prestigious club where he likely had a specific role in the starting XI. This is fantastic. However, the USMNT has some doubts about this move because the role assigned to Weah is at right wingback, a position that is not utilized by the national team.
Weah, who plays as a right winger for the U.S., Will do a lot of what he does, still, with the backline and wide stretches providing him the opportunity. He caught the attention of Juventus and further back on the field at Lille, he was progressively used during his time there.
PSV, the club league champions, could potentially be a strong contender for the Golden Boot with Pepi, who had an impressive 12-goal season on a team (Groningen) that got relegated. After such a scenario, it feels like the best-case scenario for PSV to move him and likely cost Augsburg a spot on the World Cup roster. However, the situation is not guaranteed, and Pepi’s move to Fair or a different club is also a possibility. Each forward path is unique, and the best one is not always for the sake of Europe. It is a reminder that Europe has been the goal for Pepi in the past two years, and PSV is making all the necessary moves to ensure his success.
The transfer rotating platform is not completed, and here are a few additional players to monitor:.
Thus far, no developments have occurred, but he has been associated with numerous clubs. He is likely to have many interested parties to ensure his presence in the premier league, and Tyler Adams, who plays for Leeds United, emerged as one of the few positive aspects in an otherwise gloomy season at Elland Road.
McKennie arrived for preseason training, however, various reports from Europe suggest that he is unlikely to participate in the club’s American tour and will not return. McKennie’s loan stint at Leeds was unsuccessful, and now he finds himself back at Juventus with an uncertain destiny. Weston McKennie, Juventus.
It will be interesting to see Pulisic and him together, but he doesn’t necessarily need to make a move. Musah has reportedly agreed to personal terms with the club, as hinted at by La Gazzetta dello Sport’s reporting on Monday. There has been speculation for weeks about the possibility of Musah joining AC Milan with Pulisic. Might we see Musah teaming up with Pulisic at Valencia?
If he fails to secure a position during the preseason, it would be more advantageous for him to locate a place to consistently participate. However, Dest expressed last week that he plans to strive for his position at Barca. Dest, who lost popularity at Barcelona and was scarcely utilized during his time at AC Milan on loan, experienced a mostly unproductive 2022-23 season.
Traveling across the Atlantic?
Europe is a stage in their careers where both players, Pepi or Balogun, Vazquez or Ferreira Jesus, and Brandon Vazquez, either seriously challenging each other, should go to find clubs where they will have the opportunity to be a starter in every game, rather than being seldom-used players in the MLS. However, it’s not the right time for them to go up a level again, but they shouldn’t just go to any club.
Elsewhere, it is evident that there is no time left to see how their game translates in MLS and both Robinson and Zimmerman proved to be key players during World Cup qualifying.
What comes after this?
Before the team can set its eyes on preparing for next summer’s Copa America, the focus is on the World Cup. However, given the lack of continuity over the past few months, the team has lined up one of the four friendlies in the fall to sideline Berhalter’s return on Louis St. On Sept. 9. That’s when the 2026 cycle will truly begin.