Former US coach Bruce Arena says the USMNT were ‘not quite ready’ for the World Cup because they played ‘far too easy games’ after Covid-19… and wonders if Gregg Berhalter understands ‘we have to play smart’ against England next
Bruce Arena believes USA will come out of Group B at the World Cup and qualify for knockouts, but had strong words about the state of Gregg Berhalter’s squad.
Arena has coached Team USA twice before, but his second spell ended in humiliation when they were beaten 2-1 by Trinidad and Tobago to fail to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Despite this, Arena believes the United States faced too many CONCACAF teams – Caribbean and North and Central American nations – and left them under-prepared for the tournament in Qatar.
USA drew 1-1 with Wales in their World Cup opener in Qatar – a disappointing result
Former USMNT coach Bruce Arena feels team is underprepared due to recent games
“Still think USMNT will make it to the Round of 16, probably needing a win over Iran on the final day (November 29) and hoping for a point against England on Black Friday,” wrote Arena on MLS.com.
“But it’s also clear that this team, in this cycle, didn’t have enough experience against quality international teams to be fully ready for a World Cup.”
“It’s mainly because of the pandemic, so it’s hard to lay the blame, but it’s also a fact that we played a bunch of CONCACAF games that were way too easy. You need those teams high level that really challenge you.
The USA will certainly be challenged in the next match, against England. Gareth Southgate’s side beat Iran 6-2 on Monday in a declaration victory.
Arena believe that if Berhalter’s side want to get something out of the game, the coach will have to be more defensive.
“The game against England is shaping up to be a real test, having beaten Iran 6-2 and sent a goal-to-goals differential in their favour.
Timothy Weah (centre) put the United States ahead against Wales but Gareth Bale equalized
Arena thinks coach Gregg Berhalter will have to change his setup for England game
“The question is whether we are adults and do we understand that we are an underdog and we have to play smart, we have to play defensively, play a little bit differently from the way we play.”
While Arena’s second stint coaching USA ended in humiliation, in his first stint he helped USA reach the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
The United States lost to second-placed Germany.