U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter and his team are preparing for upcoming friendlies against Jamaica (Thursday) and Northern Ireland (Sunday) during a break among European club competition.
The current training roster features several players in camp from various European clubs, including Antonee Robinson from Fulham. Robinson and fellow defender Aaron Long previewed the friendlies on Monday with reporters. Here’s what they had to say.
Year ahead a ‘great opportunity’
The year ahead will hold several important competitions for the USMNT with CONCACAF Nations League, the Gold Cup, and 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying. Robinson believes the current group of players are in good position to continue building toward meaningful matches moving forward.
“Obviously there was a pretty big impact with COVID stopping a lot of the games early on in the season. So we haven’t had much time to play together and sort of gel as a team, but I think since Greg’s been coach, he’s had a pretty clear mindset of how he wants to play. And just the work rate that he wants the team to play with and the hunger and desire, Robinson said.
“I think ultimately all the players that are being called — the guys over from the MLS and the European-based players — we all share the same same goals. That we want to win trophies, we want to change the way that the world sort of views American soccer. …You know, there are a lot of young hungry players, and we’re excited to try and win stuff, and a lot of time is coming off in the summer, and then obviously qualifying afterwards. It gives us a great opportunity to showcase that.”
The current training camp roster features players across several European clubs. A small number of MLS clubs are represented within the roster, but the mix is unique and representative of the current state of the USMNT. New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long has been enjoying getting acquainted and re-acquainted with new and former teammates ahead of this week’s friendlies — both of which will be played in Europe.
“I think for me, this is the first time I’ve been on a camp where there’s mainly players [from] Europe. So, that’s new to me and we’ll see how this camp takes shape. And like I said, I haven’t seen a lot of these guys in a couple years which is different for me as well,” Long said. “Usually, I’m getting together with a lot of these guys you know every month, or two months, three months, you get to see the group again. But a lot of these guys haven’t seen since 2019. So, I think that’s probably the biggest difference for me this camp.”