On the back of a chastising 0-3 defeat against Mexico, United States next face Uruguay in a friendly at the Busch Stadium in St Louis, Missouri, on Tuesday (8pm ET, live on FS1 / Univision).
It was a result tipped by USAbetting in our game preview. The United States were never really in the game against Mexico on Friday. Their visitors took the lead 20 minutes into a first half in which USMNT struggled to progress the ball forward. Two more goals as the pace dipped in the final quarter-hour gave Mexico a comfortable win.
The United States had a predictable game-plan and Mexico set themselves up to take advantage of it. Time after time, Mexico forced turnovers with their pressing as the US attempted to play out short from the back. Only a few moments of individual inspiration from Christian Pulisic enabled Gregg Berhalter’s side to overcome the press and advance.
Afterwards, Berhalter received some criticism over his team’s approach. The truth is that he is simply following the path that any national team coach with a defined playing style would take in their first year or two in the job. He is introducing the basic concepts and repeating them until they have been fully taken on board.
Whatever your opinion on his coaching ability or the suitability of such a coach to international football, his side are where you would expect them to be at this stage of the cycle. The problems will come if Team USA are still playing the same way another 18 months down the line, without variations to help them overcome teams who attempt to stifle Plan A.
Perhaps it is just because there is so much anxiety around the national team because of their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but it seems as if each and every individual match is picked over in unhealthy detail. The relatively positive signs of progression at the Gold Cup, when Berhalter had an extended amount of time to work with his team, should provide more reason for optimism than a subsequent friendly defeat does for negativity.
In Pulisic, Tyler Adams (absent through injury this international break) and Weston McKennie, the USMNT have the makings of a midfield capable of acting as the ballast for a developing side. They aren’t quite there yet and wily opponents know exactly how to set themselves up to make things difficult for them.
Uruguay are nothing if not wily. Even without the experienced and feted trio of Diego Godin, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, all injured, they still have enough quality and smarts to prevail in St Louis, home town of USA players Josh Sargent and Tim Ream, on Tuesday.
Oscar Washington Tabarez’s won 2-1 away to Costa Rica on Friday. A late first-half penalty from Giorgian de Arrascaeta was equalized early into the second half, only for Jonathan Rodriguez to come off the bench and fire home a crisp 90th-minute winner.
Uruguay created the better chances of an encounter in which 19-year-old Los Angeles FC winger Brian Rodriguez made his debut and first start for the national team. De Arrascaeta provided a number of moments of quality coming in off the left, while there was a good balance in the midfield trio, allowing them to get up in support of lone striker Maxi Gomez.
The midfield zone was the first area of renovation for Tabarez’s side at last year’s World Cup. There are now a number of younger defenders and forward-minded players coming into the pool. There is a neat equilibrium between youth and experience that will be of benefit as this World Cup cycle unfolds.
Our Betting Preview’s USA vs Uruguay Predictions & Picks Verdict
Both the ELO (Uruguay: eighth; United States: 40th) and FIFA (Uruguay: fifth; United States: 20th) ranking systems have Uruguay far ahead of the United States at this point in time and it is difficult to make much of an argument for USMNT coming out on top on Tuesday. Uruguay are a solid team with a number of strong partnerships, the sort the US have not yet really established.
A Uruguay victory in a relatively low-scoring match looks the most likely outcome if you are planning an investment with one of the American, legal, offshore sportsbooks. This is our USMNT vs Uruguay prediction and betting pick for this match preview: