Ex-USA coach Bruce Arena claims USMNT was ‘not fully ready’ for the World Cup because they played ‘games that were way too easy’ after Covid-19… and questions if Gregg Berhalter understands ‘we have to play smart’ against England next
Bruce Arena believes USA will make it out of Group B at the World Cup and qualify for the knockouts, but had some strong words over the state of Gregg Berhalter’s team.
Arena has coached the USA side 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 that, Arena feels USA has been playing too many CONCACAF teams – Caribbean and North and central American nations – and that it has left them under prepared for the tournament in Qatar.
USA tied 1-1 with Wales in its first game in the World Cup in Qatar – a disappointing result
Ex-USMNT coach Bruce Arena feels the team is underprepared due to its recent fixtures
‘I still think the USMNT are going to reach the knockout stages, probably needing a win over Iran on the final matchday (Nov. 29) and hoping for a point against England on Black Friday,’ Arena wrote on MLS.com.
‘But it’s also clear this team, in this cycle, didn’t have enough experiences against quality international teams to be fully ready for a World Cup.
‘That’s mainly because of the pandemic, so it’s hard to toss blame, but it’s also a fact we played a bunch of CONCACAF games that were way too easy. You need those top-tier teams that really challenge you.’
The USA will certainly be challenged in the next game, against England. Gareth Southgate’s team beat Iran 6-2 on Monday in a statement victory.
Arena believes that if Berhalter’s team is to take anything from the game, the coach will need to be more defensive minded.
‘The England game is shaping up as a real test, after they beat Iran 6-2 and sent goal differential/goals scored in their favor.
Timothy Weah (center) put the USA ahead against Wales but Gareth Bale equalized
Arena beleives that coach Gregg Berhalter will need to change his setup for the England game
‘The question is are we grown-ups and do we understand this is one where we’re an underdog and we have to play smart, we have to play defensively, play a little bit differently than we talk about how we play.’
While Arena’s second spell coaching the USA ended up in humiliation, in his first spell he helped USA reach the quarterfinal of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
USA lost to Germany, the runner up in the competition.