The USMNT lost 1-0 versus Panama on October 10th, 2021. The only goal of the game was an own goal by Gysai Zardes in the 54th minute. The game was 50/50 possession; the USMNT had zero shots on target while Panama had four. The midfield felt flat and stale and could not progress the ball up the pitch; Turner’s distribution was horrendous. Fans were left confused and frustrated at the game. 

Gregg Berhalter ran a 4-3-3 with a midfield trio of Acosta, Musah, and Lletget. The midfield was congested and could not progress the ball to attackers. Musah attempted to move the chains but was left isolated with no options. Acosta constantly hovered behind Musah while Lletget seemingly refused to make runs. A side that should have dominated possession struggled throughout the game. The loss of runs from Lletget caused problems for Arriola and Weah. They did not have outlets to link up and progress the ball into the final third. Acosta struggled with ball distribution and felt very invisible. These problems continued throughout the entire game; Adams replaced Musah at halftime and provided more defensive stability but added no offense. Berhalter made no other subs in the midfield.

Turner’s distribution put the team in vulnerable positions. 2 mishits from Turner led to goal-scoring chances. The inability to calmly receive and progress the ball forward led to center-backs, fullbacks, and Turner himself continuously punting the ball upfield. This issue created disruption and an inability for viable offensive chances.

In the press conference, Berhalter admitted to putting out an inferior squad to play their best team on Thursday against Costa Rica. Berhalter said: “Now it obviously doesn’t look like the best choice, but I think we have to wait till Thursday. Because if we would have played the same players from the last game … I’m not sure we position ourselves in the best way to win a game on Wednesday.’’ as reported by Charles Boehm.

This is confusing, everybody recognized that Panama was the most challenging opponent. Why would we play an inferior roster against the best team in the window so we can put out the best possible lineup against Costa Rica?

This game left fans, reporters, and players confused. Gregg seemed to lack a game plan and relied on players that were not performing during the match. His in-game solutions did not work, and we entered the final 25 minutes without the ability to bring in substitutes. The players seemed to have no motivation. Berhalter lacked honest explanations for obvious coaching errors. The USMNT plays Costa Rica on October 14th, 2021. Can the team bounce back? How does the loss impact the team’s momentum? How will Berhalter react?