Pressure Mounts On US After 2 Draws In World Cup Qualifying

Sep 7, 2021, 12:05 PM

Christian Pulisic #10 of United States gathers himself after being knocked to the ground by Alistai...

Christian Pulisic #10 of United States gathers himself after being knocked to the ground by Alistair Johnston #2 of Canada during the first half of their World Cup qualifying match at Nissan Stadium on September 5, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Players walked off the field dejected. Nervous American fans are in an uproar.

No, this wasn’t four years ago. This is the here and now for the U.S. soccer team, which has just two points after its first two World Cup qualifiers, three injured regulars and a team leader sent home for violating COVID-19 protocols.

A 1-1 draw at home against Canada, which last reached soccer’s showcase in 1986, caused concern and ratched pressure. Instead of a revival under coach Gregg Berhalter, the Americans are sputtering heading into Wednesday night’s game at Honduras, their third in a seven-day span. The U.S. hasn’t won a qualifier since 2013 in Central America, where it has one win and three draws in its last eight matches.

“The hole’s starting to get a little deeper,” former American defender Marcelo Balboa, now a commentator for Univision, said Monday. “It puts more emphasis on the away game in Honduras, which we know, the grass will be thick. It’ll be hot. It’ll be humid. The fans will weigh — the buzzing sound for three hours leading up to the game surrounding the stadium.”

Defender Sergiño Dest (sprained ankle), goalkeeper Zack Steffen (back spasms, positive COVID test) and midfielder Gio Reyna (strained hamstring) won’t make the trip. Jordan Morris, Paul Arriola and Tim Weah already were hurt before the opener.

Midfielder Weston McKennie, a member of the team’s six-man leadership council, was told to return to Italy by Berhalter after violating team COVID-19 protocols. McKennie, among the top American players, was kept off Sunday’s game-day roster by Berhalter for the rules violation. Breaking COVID-19 protocols by hosting a party caused him to be dropped by Juventus for its Derby della Mole against Torino in April.

“There are high expectations for those who are a part of the U.S. men’s national team, and in order to be successful it’s important that everyone in the group is accountable,” Berhalter said in a statement.

San Jose midfielder Jackson Yueill was added to the roster and trained with the team Monday at Lipscomb University.

This team has its most accomplished roster, led by players headed to this season’s Champions League in Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), McKennie, Dest (Barcelona), Steffen (Manchester City), Reyna (Borussia Dormund), Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg), John Brooks (Wolfsburg) and Jordan Pefok (Young Boys).

They have managed only slightly better than the awful start to the previous cycle, when the U.S. opened with a 2-1 home defeat to Mexico and 4-0 thrashing at Costa Rica.

“It’s a team sport,” Adams said. “It doesn’t matter where we come from. If we don’t go out there and do the things that we’re good at, that we’re just a group of names on a piece of paper. Other teams, maybe they don’t have the players that play for these big clubs, but it doesn’t matter.”

And suspensions may become a factor soon. Defenders John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin and Mark McKenzie have received yellow cards along with Adams and Pefok. Any of those would receive a one-game ban for an additional single yellow card.

Play in the first two games was subpar.

“We needed much faster ball movement. Everyone could see from the outside it took just way too long on the ball,” Berhalter said.

Some faulted the coach for waiting until the 83rd minute to make three substitutions aimed at getting a goal. Berhalter said he held off because he thought Aaronson and Pefok were among the better Americans on the field.

“I can understand how it looks like we should have acted quicker 100% in this situation,” Berhalter said.



Kyle Ireland

Orlando Pride Blast Utah Royals FC In Rout

The Utah Royals suffered a blowout loss to the Orlando Pride less than a week after snapping a long losing streak.

7 hours ago

Real Salt Lake Chicho Arango RSL...

Chandler Holt

Real Salt Lake Hosts LA Galaxy: Streak, Top Spot In West, Redemption At Stake

Real Salt Lake returns home from Kansas City and will look for another three points against the LA Galaxy on Saturday.

1 day ago

Andres Gomez Real Salt Lake RSL...

Chandler Holt

Real Salt Lake Sets Franchise Record In 4-3 Win Over Sporting KC

Real Salt Lake set a franchise record with the 4-3 win over Sporting KC at Children's Mercy Park on Wednesday.

2 days ago

Matt Crooks Real Salt Lake RSL...

Chandler Holt

Matt Crooks Scores First MLS Goal To Put RSL Up Two Late

Matt Crooks scored his first MLS goal at a very opportune time as he gave Real Salt Lake a late 4-2 lead over Kansas City on the road.

2 days ago

Andres Gomez Real Salt Lake RSL...

Chandler Holt

Andres Gomez Makes It A Brace After Halftime To Extend RSL Lead

Andres Gomez opened scoring for Real Salt Lake very early and added another goal after half to give his club a 3-1 lead in Kansas City.

2 days ago

Anderson Julio Real Salt Lake RSL...

Chandler Holt

Anderson Julio Responds To Kansas City Equalizer With Chip Goal

After an equalizer took some wind out of Real Salt Lake's sails, Anderson Julio stepped up to give the road club another first-half lead.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!

Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption...

Hans & Scotty’s Day Of Adoption

Join the KSL Sports Zone for Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption, in partnership with the Humane Society of Utah, on June 25th, 2024!


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Pressure Mounts On US After 2 Draws In World Cup Qualifying