USMNT vs. Uruguay instant reaction: 5 questions, 5 answers

  • How did the U.S. men’s national team play against Uruguay? Let’s talk about that.

Let’s talk about USMNT 0-0 Uruguay, shall we? We debuted this “five questions, five answers” format right after the United States’ game against Morocco on Wednesday and we’re back at it again today. 

I’m sharing some of my quick thoughts on the match in the form of answers to five specific questions. We’ll also have a more detailed piece on this game and what it told us about the U.S. men’s national team out later and Adam Snavely will share some of his thoughts on the game in Monday’s Weekend Recap.

Here we go!

What’s your one sentence reaction to that game?

The United States put together an imperfect performance against Uruguay, but one that still helped us learn more about this young group.

Can you give me a little more than that?

Despite Diego Alonso’s decision to rotate the vast majority of his team for this game against the U.S., Uruguay was still another strong test for Gregg Berhalter’s team. Uruguay pressed more aggressively than Morocco did on Wednesday night. They also caused the U.S. some problems with switches from left to right in the opening stages of the game. 

But, by and large, the USMNT withstood Uruguay’s advances. They didn’t break defensively and they did put together some nice possession sequences.

We also got to see many of the U.S.’s healthy core players on the field together to start this game and we got an extended look at Joe Scally at left back and then right back (more on him later). 

Did Berhalter make any tactical changes?

A little one, yeah! In this game, we saw the U.S. buildup/possess in a 4-2-4 shape, as opposed to the 3-2-5 that they used against Morocco or the 4-3-3/2-3-5 that the U.S. used for the vast majority of World Cup qualifying. 

Again, it’s not that we’ve never seen the U.S. use a double pivot in buildup. It’s happened a handful of times in the past, usually for brief moments. But this was a rare, purposeful and extended look at that 4-2 shape in buildup.

The United States made mistakes while building from the back in that shape. But I do think there is some real value in continuing to develop that double pivot in buildup: it takes much of the responsibility in possession off of Tyler Adams’ shoulders and puts a chunk of that responsibility on Yunus Musah, who is more comfortable on the ball.

The possession spacing wasn’t perfect in this one, but I think there are things that the U.S. can take away from their usage of the double pivot in this game.

Who impressed the most?

Speaking of Musah, I thought he was darn good. He still relies a little too much on his dribbling to progress the ball, but man-oh-man was he good at progressing the ball today. There were a half dozen moments in this game where Musah’s quality on the ball helped the USMNT move forward in possession.

Who struggled?

Joe Scally. 

His defensive reads weren’t great today and he didn’t bring much in the attack, either. To my eye, it looks like some of the issues that have plagued his game at Borussia Monchengladbach have made their way across the Atlantic.