United States manager Gregg Berhalter to make ‘a bunch’ of changes vs Chile

HOUSTON — United States manager Gregg Berhalter said that he will make “a bunch” of changes to his lineup for Tuesday’s friendly against Chile, and that Club Brugge keeper Ethan Horvath will start in goal.

Horvath will take the place of Sean Johnson, who went the distance in the U.S. team’s 1-0 win over Ecuador last Thursday.

Berhalter had hinted after the Ecuador match that some roster changes would take place, necessitating alterations to his lineup. Midfielder Tyler Adams returned to club side RB Leipzig in a move that was planned, while midfielder Weston McKennie is out with an ankle injury.

Berhalter said he is expecting Chile to present a very different kind of challenge than Ecuador. Ecuador sat deep and tried to catch the U.S. on the counter-attack while Chile’s style will be more aggressive.

“I would expect to see Chile come out in a very high rhythm,” said Berhalter. “I would expect them to be pressing very high, very often. And it’s up to us to take advantage of that, and what I mean by that is we need to be brave enough to play, we need to make them expend energy. Because as you saw in the Mexico game, in the second half, the game changed, and we need to create that change in the game as well by opening up, being expansive, making them move.”

The progression of games in terms of the opponents’ style is similar to what the U.S. experienced in their two January friendlies. Against Panama, the U.S. were forced to break down a low block defense, whereas Costa Rica pressed the U.S. higher up the field.

Mexico’s 3-1 defeat of Chile last Friday will certainly give Berhalter some data as to how to combat La Roja‘s style.

“We want to be able to play through pressure,” said Berhalter. “We know there’s going to be times where it’s going to be difficult. We want to set up to give them problems and then it’s just about the right moments that we’re able to play through them and get opportunities.

“That’s the key. We need to continue to break lines because once you play through one line, the next line comes, and you need to continue to break lines. When Mexico did that, they were really successful, and ended up in some goalscoring opportunities.”

Berhalter has also analyzed the positives and negatives of the Ecuador match and will be looking to see improvement from his side, especially in attack.

“It was [about] breaking down the midfield line of five, trying to draw out their central midfielders, and then penetrate their line,” Berhalter said about the Ecuador match. “And when you can’t do that, we needed to play more diagonal behind their line. And I think we lacked the diagonal-behind-the-line, that should have been used much more. They were shifting over to one side and we could have been playing behind their line more often.”

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