How the USMNT is preparing for the World Cup

AL-RAYYAN, Qatar — Preparing a team for the World Cup is always a difficult process. Sometimes, they can make or break a match. Germany’s thrashing in Brazil in 2014 was widely hailed as the key to their title. However, the United States national team’s decision to stay in a remote facility in 1998 has been cited as one of the reasons for the team’s problems in France.

The truth is that every tournament has its own characteristics, be it the host nation, the venues, the training base or the opponents. The US staff, led by USSF director general Tom King, is well aware of this fact. The 2022 World Cup, however, will not be the first to be held in the East.

The start of the competition in November usually falls in the middle of the European club season. That created all kinds of obstacles and wrinkles in the process, and that’s true of the US

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga and more (US)

Usually, the US training camp and three friendlies take a long time to prepare and get things right. Then come early to the host country to rest. Not this time. European players and clubs played until these past weeks. Most MLS and national team players struggled as if their seasons were up for a month or more.

For USA manager Gregg Berhalter, the run was difficult given the shape and physicality of his players. Every week he puts a microscope on the performance of his players and prays for their recovery. He also hosted a camp for MLS players to keep their lives alive, resulting in seven of the final 26-man roster, though the game’s sharpness — or lack thereof — could be a problem.

Now that the roster has been named and the team is in Qatar, the short term has increased. The US will play Wales on Monday, the second day of the tournament, and Berhalter’s side will have more than a week to make final decisions and preparations. Compare that to Berhalter’s long camp and 14 days in the country when he played in the 2002 World Cup in South Korea. But the American operator likes to think about this short flight path.

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“Everybody wants to continue,” Berhalter told ESPN in an exclusive interview. “We have been waiting for this for a while, with the junior team, we just want to go about our business. In the World Cup competitions, we are used to changing quickly. and we are ready to go.”

The question is how much the short term will affect the team’s tactical preparations. At the team’s meeting for the September international window, Berhalter said how much attention is paid to small details – such as how the team feels when fans break and change fields – not subject-oriented.

“What we’ve lost is people who have been away for three and a half months,” Berhalter said. “They all worked in the previous season with their clubs where they were learning different things, and our original pressure was not right. The second part is that the guys who came to the camp are different the starting points and the construction phase of the game. .”

Berhalter said he doesn’t think the six weeks between camps – too short for a European team – will be a problem in Qatar.

“They just stayed with us [in September]so I think that’s a really good thing,” he said of the team’s culture. play against Wales.”

There has been some discussion as to why the United States did not make a plan between getting the players into camp and playing the first game against Wales. Berhalter said there was very little time for socializing since some of the players were not available until this past Sunday night. The coach said the best time to play a game is Thursday, but he only had three days’ recovery for the Wales game. There is also the risk of injury, something that the US has experienced to varying degrees during flight.

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“I don’t really know the teams that are playing in the tournament [second] the day of the World Cup, that’s right,” he said.

One area where a short period of time can help is surveillance. In previous World Cups filled with pre-tournament friendlies, the scouting process was almost rushed. Not this time.

“This gives you more lead time,” Berhalter said. “The work is done and the investigation is done. In my opinion, this is an advantage.”

There is a lot to do about the weather in Qatar. The extreme heat of the summer was the reason why the competition was moved to the fall. By the time the American Games begin at 10 p.m. local time, temperatures should be in the 70s. Adjusting the players’ bodies to play at that time of day can be very stressful.

“We’ve got to move these guys up the list, and we have a plan for that,” Berhalter said. “We’ve talked to experts in that area about how to do that. We’re going to have a different wake-up day throughout the tournament, and that’s just part of it.”

The US cannot justify its base camp and training facility. The US Soccer Federation visited Qatar nine times, checking every available venue, before listing the prestigious, five-star Marsa Malaz Kempinski hotel at The Pearl-Qatar, an island built by man on the beach of Doha, as his home. base. The USSF has left nothing to chance, its proposal has been submitted within seconds of opening the portal in October 2019. The hotel has a private beach and 10 restaurants.

“The hotel, when we walk in the doors, all the staff are waving flags, our rooms are great,” said guest speaker Kellyn Acosta. “Our chef does a great job. We have a gym, we have everything we need. It’s great. We have a TV, a pingpong table, a PS5, a putting green, the whole nine yards. , very important.”

Confidentiality also emerged in the US team’s choice of training base, with the US set to use the facility of Qatari club Al-Gharafa. The site includes historic amenities such as locker rooms, coaches’ offices and a cafeteria.

“We didn’t want to share one training ground with another [team]”Berhalter said. “A lot of teams need training opportunities. We think the theater we have is a good place for isolation training and filming.”

Not all of the team’s preparations focused on football. The run-up to the race has seen a focus on labor and human rights, given the sometimes brutal labor practices in the country, and inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community at events. To that end, the USSF has made an effort to educate players on the issues while participating in on-ground programs. These include inviting staff for their own training sessions where they receive training from American players and staff at the training ground. The USSF plans to display rainbow flags and recruitment posters during its pre-party nights in Qatar.

The USSF and the US embassy in Qatar, the Supreme Committee, FIFA, the US Chamber of Commerce and various Qatari government agencies are working hard to ensure everyone’s commitment to providing a safe environment. and welcome to all US citizens planning to attend the event. World Cup. The USSF is also supporting the creation of a compensation fund proposed by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UEFA Working Group to provide for migrant workers and their families who need a safety net for free wages, injury and other damage.

“We are preparing [the players] for a year and a half now,” Berhalter said. We have a weekly announcement about that. So I think it’s important to let them know, so we’ve prepared them.”

For America, we hope all these arrangements will be beneficial and make the competition memorable.


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