The US men’s nine-game undefeated streak came to an end against Switzerland, as did some of the good vibes and positive momentum it had built up during that career. Sunday’s game escaped the United States in the second half and the final score of 2-1 was ultimately flattering given all the opportunities Switzerland created.
But like in all international matches, there are many caveats: the Americans played against a strong opponent (Switzerland is ranked 13th and is full of accomplished professionals) and they were missing their best player (Christian Pulisic, due to Champions League duty). ) and its most influential player (Tyler Adams, injured). They also had heavy legs from their high altitude training, as Captain Weston McKennie explained after the game.
The attitude and the desire were the great positives and the United States had several good moments of pressure that translated into their best scoring chances. The Americans were heavily engaged in the attack when they had Switzerland caught in their own half. But when it came to building from behind and maintaining sustained ownership, the quality just wasn’t there and the freebies were plentiful. It is a dangerous game to play internationally.
And those problem areas left exposed against Switzerland could plant a seed of doubt heading into America’s next game: a Nations League single-elimination showdown on Thursday against Honduras, a country that has regularly targeted the USMNT.
Here are five takeaways from the match and the ratings of each USMNT player:
1. McKenzie can do the job
There is a free spot in the starting center back with the injury of NY Red Bulls stalwart Aaron Long. Mark McKenzie had the opportunity to take the place alongside John Brooks and proved that he is definitely a candidate to be the long-term solution. Not only did he make great plays, but he also brought calm to the position. USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter gave him a positive review after the game.
2. The center forward is wide open
You have to give it to Josh Sargent (photo below). His level of struggle and commitment is out of the ordinary. But at some point execution matters, and not just when it comes to scoring goals. He offered little when it came to holding play or combo play to help the US push the field. While the clamor for Daryl Dike and Jordan Siebatcheu is sure to grow, it’s hard to see Berhalter move out of Sargent just yet. In fact, he felt that Sargent “played a good game.”
3. Gio Reyna… luxury player?
Perhaps Reyna was one of the players who suffered the most from the heavy legs referred to by McKennie. Reyna only appeared when the United States reached the Swiss penalty area. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have known it was in the game.
His pressing and defensive presence was several levels below his other teammates in attack. And he didn’t make up for it with plays that made a difference. In fact, he had a low passing percentage on the team (79.5 percent). Berhalter’s United States national team, which relies on collective pressure and movement, cannot afford luxury players. Reyna was that back in the day.
4. Aaronson won a starting job
While Reyna was disappointing, Brenden Aaronson was one of America’s bright spots. When they struggled to find outlets for their development, there was Aaronson. He constantly showed the ball, controlled it well for the most part and took a beating from the Swiss players. His passing could be better, but he had a tremendous work rate and was also dangerous in the area (he assisted in the only goal for the United States). When Pulisic returns, Reyna is the stranger right now.
5. Central midfield
This is the area of the field that could present the greatest challenge to the system Berhalter is trying to build. Without the right players running as a unit at a high enough level, things can quickly fall apart. That cohesion just wasn’t there against Switzerland and America’s struggles for possession and accumulation came down mostly to midfield shortcomings.
The position of the center of the waiting field is the one that should be followed more closely in the next matches. Jackson Yueill (pictured below) had one of his toughest outings for the United States, mostly on passing and possession. Kellyn Acosta brought more mobility and a change of pace to passing in the second half, but was still outmatched. Two deep central midfielders could provide the most balanced solution until the team buzzes at full blast again.
US Player Ratings
Ethan Horvath: 6.5
After a quiet first half, he made big saves in the second half to keep the game close. He could do little with either of the two Swiss goals and hit the penalty that went wide.
Sergino Dest: 6
It is not a classic performance for Dest on the left back, but it is still very important for the attack. He has the knack of making something out of nothing and nearly scored in a solo career in the first half. He committed a handball infraction in the area to lead the failed PK of Switzerland.
John Brooks: 6
He combined timely interventions and clearances with forgettable moments, especially in the second half. It is still a lock as a starter in the rear.
Mark McKenzie: 6.5
Quiet, clean and safe presence on the back. One mistake aside, this performance will give American fans a little more restful rest after Long’s injury. Berhalter’s only criticism of McKenzie postgame: He needs to do more to help the defensive line move forward to keep the team compact. That will come.
Reggie Cannon: 6
He definitely had his hands full defensively, but for the most part he did his job. With as much as Dest pushes forward to the left, Cannon has to be selective about his attacking forays from the right wing. He did well to pick good moments, especially in the second half. When he pushed up, he was quality with his passing, decision making and crossing.
Jackson Yueill: 5
This was a difficult game for Yueill as a safe middle, especially when it came to helping America get out of its own side. Not only did he deliver the ball in key areas, but he also looked physically overwhelmed when pressed.
Weston McKennie: 5.5
An ups and downs performance from the captain. He showed strong decision making and good positioning and delivered a couple of world-class passes. But he also had a handful of bugs and a stretch where he couldn’t find the game. This US team needs McKennie to be a leading force. A week of altitude training after a long season may be the culprit in this case.
Sebastian Lletget: 7
Lletget is the perfect two-way midfielder for this team and is a fixture in this lineup as long as he continues to play like this. He could have done more to help Yueill prepare for the game, but there is no mistaking his work ethic, defensive commitment, and attacking instincts. He has a knack for perfectly timing his runs and is decisive and sharp when receiving the ball.
Brenden Aaronson: 6.5
He worked hard to get into the game. Aside from some misplaced passes, he generally made a positive contribution when he got the ball. His ability to show a pass and commit fouls helped alleviate some of the pressure the United States faced in their half of the field. Aaronson grew weary as the minutes passed, but this was a performance to build on.
Gio Reyna: 4.5
He had some good crosses, a dangerous shot and a good combination with Cannon in his 72 minutes, but overall he struggled to make a mark. America’s attacking movements actually seemed to slow down as the ball hit it. It was not a defensive factor.
Josh Sargent: 4.5
Hard day at the office. The effort was there, but he struggled to keep the ball aloft, and when he did, his pass was generally wrong or he coughed it up. It was put at the end of a couple of crosses in the area, but that’s about it.
Tim Ream: 4.5
A difficult place for Ream. He replaced Brooks just when the US was under the most pressure and was almost immediately burned by Swiss forward Breel Embolo. Haris Seferovic easily defeated him in another case.
Yunus Musah: 5
In his 29 minutes in place of Sebastian Lletget, he struggled to get into the game.
Kelly Acosta: 6
Compared to Yueill, he was faster and more decisive in the deep position, but he was still nothing to write home about.
Jordan Siebatcheu: N / A
A quiet 18 minutes as a striker for the man who plays his football in Switzerland.
Tim Weah: N / A
He provided a boost of energy and was willing and dynamic on the right wing, but had no impact for 18 minutes.
DeAndre Yedlin: N / A
This was more of a welcome back for his first few minutes as a right-back since 2019. Eight of them, to be exact.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.