On the first episode of Allocation Disorder: 1v1, Paul Tenorio sits down with the U.S. men’s national team manager, Gregg Berhalter. They discuss Christian Pulisic’s consistency at Chelsea, Gio Reyna’s return to the field at Dortmund and Berhalter’s future after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Berhalter on expectations for midfielder Christian Pulisic this season with Chelsea:
“You know, I think if there’s one player in our player pool that really understands how to deal with adversity and deal with the competition at the big clubs, it’s Christian. He’s been doing that at a young age at Dortmund, a big club in Germany, moving to Chelsea and just clawing his way into playing time and results and performance and goals and assists, and he has a great mindset about this year. I’m excited to see how he embraces the challenge. Any time you’re at a big club, there’s always going to be competition for spots. Any time you’re an attacking player at a big club, there’s always going to be competition for spots, but the way that he’s equipped himself to deal with that, he’s going to be in a really good spot, and I can see him certainly performing at a high level and certainly making a big impact at Chelsea this year.”
“So with Brenden, it’s going to be important to see how he finishes his offensive actions, right, with goals and assists at the Premier League level. It’s a very, very difficult level. It will really, I think, increase his chances of being on the field at the World Cup if he can do it in the Premier League. That’s the best league in the world. So that’s what we’re going to be looking at, is he able to perform offensive actions in the Premier League at a really high level.
With Tyler, for us, it’s a combination of things. I think defensively, for him to continue to work on his ball-winning, which he’s bordering on elite at. He’s a very high-level ball-winner. Press after losses is huge for him, as well. He really helps the group maintain possession when he’s able to press the ball immediately after losing the ball. And then it’s in build-up. Can he get on the ball? Can he be breaking lines, finding attacking players in between the lines or behind the line? One thing that we’ve been on him about is turning to face forward, passing forward, and taking more risks with the ball with his passing.”
Berhalter on Gio Reyna’s play, best position with the USMNT:
“Well, Gio’s a difference maker, we know that. We know that he can make a difference when he’s on the ball with his final pass, with his finishing actions. He’s really good at that, so that’s one thing that we’re excited to see, how he gets back to form, back to fitness, and then applies his game to what Dortmund’s doing this year with their new-ish coach, right? Not completely new. And then in terms of where we play him, that variation, the flexibility that guys like him – Gio gives us, Brenden gives us, Malik Tillman gives you – you can put them in a number of different positions and they can perform at a high level. For that, it gives us variation in both offense and defense, because if we want a more defensive formation, we can choose other players. If we want to go more offensive, we can choose the guys that I mentioned. So it’s a problem, but it’s a good problem to have when you’re faced with those difficult decisions and you want to tilt the team in a more offensive or defensive look.”
(Photo by John Dorton / ISI Photos / Getty Images)